‘New normal’: new rules?

Several months ago, terms such as ‘social distancing’ and ‘new normal’ were hardly day to day terms and yet it’s just about everything that’s talked about right now – to the point of saturation.

Depending on what you read, watch or listen to, fake news, conflicting reports and some evidential double standards, it’s difficult to know what to believe or when it may happen – which clearly makes it so much harder to plan for.

However, some things are apparent: behaviours are changing, consumers are more concerned about the future and brands are having to think or rethink very much on their feet, particularly within the hospitality and travel industries, arguably some of the hardest hit and slowest to recover. In a GWI Coronavirus survey conducted in May, a whopping 79% of those surveyed expected to either take domestic holidays (49%) or staycations in the local area (30%) for the next 12 months and in several countries, 90% or more of the population now expect the global situation to take 6 months or more to resolve. (Interestingly, many of these are Asia-Pacific regions, suggesting that they feel the rest of the world is playing ‘catch up’ with the perceived progress they have made).

So, it’s clear that the same old, same old just won’t cut it and being agile and adaptive are perhaps the ‘new norms’ to drive awareness and traffic. Whilst it’s certain that routes to market are permanently changing – digital channels for example are seeing first time users becoming regular users, it’s as much what you are saying as to how you are saying it – although we’re globally starting to move into more of a ‘relief’ phase of behaviour as case decline and there’s some sense of normality creeping in, this is swiftly followed by a feeling of apprehension as medical, societal and financial reservations kick in. Therefore, it’s vital that your messaging echoes positive action, reassurance and assurance that you’re doing all you can to create that safe environment.

It’s very much a time to take positive stance and show your colours too. As Bozoma Saint John, CMO of William Morris Endeavour succinctly put it in Contagious Magazine recently, “The biggest challenge facing any business is being less afraid. Less afraid of admitting mistakes, less afraid of connecting on a more human level, less afraid of having a strong point of view. This will require a lot of introspection and radical candour about who you are and what your company stands for. But once you crack the code, your consumers will applaud you.”

Or, as an old boss of mine also used to put it, but less succinctly: “time to pull up those big boy pants and get on with it, eh?”