COVID-19 has overwhelmed lives and businesses around the globe and let’s be honest, it’s going to be defining us for the rest of this year if not for several more. As businesses begin to analyse and assess the impact, it’s worth considering what will be the new norm?

We have all been through the physical and emotional wringer. Our culture and day to day behaviours have been completely disrupted. We will eventually overcome this, but what will the new norm look like? And how close to the old norm will it be?

It’s worth looking at the seeds of adaptation and the greater roles they will no doubt be playing in our lives. Certain categories are seeing booming sales that offer us insights into potential new trends and behaviours emerging.

Halfords saw its shares sore 23% this week off the back of strong bike sales [see here], one bike store commenting that it was typically dispatching 20-30 bikes per week and now over 50 per day.  A lot of the drive for this is having the ability to spend more time with the family on quieter roads but also the rush to beat the commute. With the virus uncertainty set to continue, who is going to want to go back to shoulder-to-shoulder train and bus commutes?

The big weekly shop is back! For how long, nobody knows. It’s a logical consequence of lockdown and consumer behaviour would suggest that even with a loosening of lockdown we are going to be far more aware of our surroundings and the proximity of others for a while. Kantar reported shoppers spent £524m more on groceries in April, despite the fact that the number of supermarket visits dropped sharply. There was also a near 40% increase in convenience store sales as people turned to local shops to satisfy their daily needs. What does this mean for FMCG brands in the retail space, especially when consumers may have been forced to try different brands within their basket do to availability. How are brands staying front of mind and creating standout in the retail space?

Consumers beverage priorities are set to change too. During lockdown, unable to pop to favourite cafés and bars, it’s been necessary to drink what can be made at home. Inspired by social posts and online tutorials by brands, people have been learning new skills, even experimenting. Look at the whipped dalgona coffee craze that became a sensation in March and April, plus and the raft of cocktails creativity. Mintel* predicts that the increased consumer sophistication of home-made drinks, coupled with greater working from home and desire to save money, will see consumers replicate the on-premise experience to drink more at home.

As an agency ourselves we have been able to be fully operational during lockdown. An online scheduling system and daily zoom team huddle have enabled us to all work with similar if not greater efficiencies than before. Does this begin to question our need for an office? It certainly questions the need for a typical 9-5, 5-day a week approach to being behind a desk.

It’s going to be an interesting period of personal adaptation and change when we emerge from lockdown. Brands that have had the ability and agility to change and react, will be the front of the new norm. Who knows, the new norm may well be a fresher, newer, nicer one. / 020 8546 0150

*Drinks in a Post-Covid-19 World report 30th April 2020.