What are people looking forward to most, post-pandemic?

From booking haircuts and beauty treatments to enjoying live music and events... social media analysis shows what people are most looking forward to doing after lockdown.
06 April 2020
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Andrew Nelson

Client Director, Media Division

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Living through the recent lockdown, citizens are starting to realise what they are missing. As Boris Yeltsin said in 2003, “We don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. Freedom is like that. It’s like air. When you have it, you don’t notice it.” So, what are people most looking forward to doing after COVID-19?

We applied human and artificial intelligence to social media conversations around COVID-19 to identify what people are most looking-forward to doing after lockdown.

You would think that seeing friends and family would be the most anticipated activity people are looking forward to. It is in some respect, with hanging out and doing things with our friends and family present in 10 out of the top 12 activities we identified. Going to visit, see and spend time with family and friends is also a category in its own right. However, it is not the top one. Here is our count-down of post COVID’s most wanted activities.

1. Pampering

What people want to do after lockdown is get some beauty therapy. This includes going to the barber, salon, getting our hair cut / dyed, having our nails or eyebrows done. As one user aptly summarised “my eyebrows and nails have gone rogue”. So, if you own a hairdressing business or beauty salon, prepare for a boom in business once quarantine is over. We might also expect to see an increase in demand for beauty and make-up products. For brands looking to reconnect with consumers it is going to be about demonstrating the value of the brand experience.

What activities are we looking forward to most after one week in quarantine?

life after COVID

Source: Global English language social media mentions in connection with what people are looking forward to after COVID-19/quarantine/coronavirus, 24 to 30 March 2020

2. Eating out

“First thing I’m doing when this quarantine is over is going out to eat!!”

Many people want to head straight to their favourite restaurant and feast on their favourite food. The meals people seem to be looking forward to most are Sushi, Mexican, Steaks, Ribs, Seafood and Pizza. Some of the comments combined eating out with catching a movie. People are also looking forward to take-away food.

3. A night out

Clubs, pubs and alcoholic drinks brands will be pleased to hear that a night out is high on list of post-COVID activities. This could be on a date or with friends, but for many it means having a post COVID-19 party.

4. Festivals and gigs

With festival season almost upon us, but with all the main events cancelled, it’s no wonder that the public are craving live music. Experiencing one’s favourite band live again is high on the priority list. Some are already considering booking tickets and looking forward to tours. Expect any live shows and performances to be sold out, quickly.

5. No changes

Staying at home suits some people just fine. They quite enjoy being alone, reading, watching Netflix or playing video games and seem to be enjoying the same thing during the lockdown as they would normally do... and will do the same after.

6. The Outdoors

Going to the beach and enjoying the experience is among the activities consumers crave, including reconnecting with nature. After one week, the thought of a prolonged quarantine is already giving these people itchy feet. Beaches, national parks, and mountain resorts/lodges be prepared for many people taking road trips to escape the confines of their city abodes.

7. Retail therapy

Online shopping is still possible but not quite scratching the itch. The thought of shopping in retail outlets, trying on and buying new outfits, is far more appealing. This is good news for high street fashion retailers with some of the sensory experience of traditional shopping being essential to fashion-conscious consumers.

8. Travel

After just a week, people are already starting to think about their next vacation. Many just want to jump on plane or book a flight with no specific destination in mind. It is too early to say, but airlines could expect significant bounce back as desire for an escape, anywhere, will lead to heightened demand. Some people are already booking trips, giving them something to look forward to.

9. Sporting events

Watching or playing sport is also top of the list for some people. With loyal fan bases, most sports will undoubtedly experience a bounce back. What will be interesting is what the impact of COVID-19 has on sports participation. Time will tell if the quarantine has motivated more people to take up a sport. Some people also just want to get back to their routines, go to work or go to the gym.. the things we perhaps took for granted.

One thing is for sure: social media posts strongly indicate an inherent desire for social interaction. While people are resorting to video conference and video calling apps, it is clear that social interactions are a key priority.

As we likely near the end of lockdown, the marketing and communication industry has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create engaging, entertaining, brand-building and above all memorable content. The challenge will be to strike the right balance and stand out.

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