Changes to Digital in a Post COVID-19 World
With the onset of COVID-19 and with each passing month during the pandemic, we have observed the world changing rapidly. While it’s been a challenging, and often stressful time, it has also been a time of transformation and positive change. Many consumers are understandably first and foremost concerned about their health and safety in the digital space and we’ve seen improvements in how important information is communicated and shared. Families that are not living in the same household are coming together more frequently through virtual technologies and feeling more connected. Telemedicine is becoming more the norm so we can continue with self-care and address health considerations. Digital concierge services have made it easier to get what we need. Online education is evolving. And we’re finding ways to bring some fun into our lives while staying at home, through online hobbies and concerts. At TBG, we are reflecting on some of the ways we see digital culture changing as a result of the events of 2020. Read on to see more of our observations about changes in the digital space, during these unprecedented times.
Health & Safety Concerns a High Priority Among Digital Consumers
Mara, Manager, Digital Strategy & Optimization
Due to COVID-19, many consumers are first and foremost concerned about their health and safety. These consumers are paying more attention to where products and services come from and how they are handled in order to determine their overall safety. The digital space is the perfect place to continue clearly communicating safety measures, sharing helpful information and data, and offering emerging digital solutions that reduce the consumers' overall risk exposure. Organizations that are able to marry these things in their digital presence will have more lasting success at converting consumers from a wide top of funnel experience into narrower, more transactional conversion stages within their funnel.
An Older Demographic is Adopting Virtual Technologies
Bonnie, Manager of Marketing & New Business
Grandpa has entered the chat! The fact that COVID-19 more negatively affects the elderly has created a need to keep physical distance from older friends and relatives. As a result, more and more families are relying on video conferencing and group chats to stay in touch. An older demographic is adopting these technologies now that they offer a safe way to keep in touch with relatives without exposing them to possible infection. Not only is this trend allowing families to stay in touch, but many families that were accustomed to only visiting with one another during family vacations are adding regular virtual visits into their routines and are connecting more often.
Digital Voting May Be Perfected
The chance of elections being disrupted driving new, broadly trustworthy, Blockchain-esqe technologies in the near term seems high, and mainly restrained by cultural or political resistances. This has the potential to lower the level of effort of voting, which in turn would drive greater levels of voter participation, an inherently good thing from a pro-democracy perspective. However, this change may also move politics more squarely into the "immediate gratification" culture of the internet, which may in turn have some unintended consequences, even if the voting is accurate and secure. Privacy may also be an issue, since more immediate, real-time derivative datasets outside of blockchain could be used by bad actors unless they are carefully anonymized.
Telemedicine Becoming the Norm Rather than the Exception
Emilie, Senior Account Manager
One of my first clients in the digital space was a telemedicine platform. At the time it was the first I had heard of doctors providing medical services over video chat. COVID-19 has made telemedicine the norm for many kinds of medical visits, from medication consults to follow-up visits. I have had several doctors' visits since the pandemic started, but all of them have been over the phone or via video chat. Many of my doctors have also begun accepting electronic payments, even ones who have only accepted checks after sending paper invoices for as long as I can remember. I hope this trend continues, as it cuts out time spent in waiting rooms (around other sick patients) and commuting to and from medical offices.
Marketing: Communicating the Impression of Togetherness & Inclusiveness
Amy P, Senior Quality Assurance Specialist
"We are all in this together—all of us" was the type of messaging seen during the first few months of COVID-19 in TV commercials, on website banners, and in emails from the gym and car dealership. I received reassuring emails from companies I never usually receive emails from. More recently, the nation’s divided opinion on the reality and other aspects of COVID-19 is steadily becoming more apparent. With this stark contrast, it will be intriguing to see if the messaging from companies changes as our nation's different opinions continue to emerge.
Expansion, Refinement & Augmented Reality in Digital Concierge Services
Susan, Director of Digital Strategy & User Experience
Over the past 5-10 years, companies like Stitch Fix, Blue Apron, FabFitFun, and Birchbox have offered services where a personal concierge-of-sorts curates a collection of goods that are shipped to your home. They've been mainly limited to clothing, food, and self-care items; however, with COVID-19 creating situations where consumers are skeptical of venturing out of their homes, I predict that there will be a greater need for these services for other product lines and at the local level—with smaller stores and service providers.
Online Hobbies Go Mainstream
Julia, Creative Director
Early lock-down, a friend on a happy hour zoom confidently told us, “we’re all coming out of this pale and buff.” Well it’s true, I have been working out more, given how easy it is to throw on whatever and do an online workout with no commute to the gym. I miss the gym, but wow, am I saving time and money. Pre-quarantine I had already been doing language conversation lessons with a tutor online, and my tutor has had to cut off new students due to the massive sudden interest. I have multiple friends and family members now doing lessons and using language apps, and steadily joining online for all sorts of experiences that would normally be in person: guitar lessons, abstract painting classes, even museum exhibit tours (so cool!). Time will tell if these new habits will stick, but in the meantime the digital world seems to be morphing around what’s possible to provide much-needed options for personal growth, to meet the unexpected demand.
Gamification of Education
Erika, Senior Account Manager
"Gamification of Education" is best known as an approach to education that motivates students to learn by using video game design and video game elements. Schools employed use of these sorts of tools and games prior to COVID-19, but now they're taking more of a spotlight as we parents (and teachers) try to engage our kids to learn while schools are physically closed. In addition to traditional education games for school-age children, I myself am seeing my youngest child learning through video games in his own way! He is only four and can't read yet, though he can navigate his way through Pokémon games (with lots of text and symbols) along with Mario Kart and some others. I watch him learn "sight words" as he figures out what the controls do. While "super effective" and "Pikachu" may not be traditional sight words, he's picked up on a few dozen words in our time in quarantine!
Concerts & Entertainment
Eric W, Associate Creative Director
Concerts and other live entertainment are moving from clubs and concert halls to online events. These events are being used as a way to regain some of the revenue lost from in-person concerts and clubs being closed (or open, but with reduced capacity). As a replacement for music tours, Geo-fencing is being explored as a possible solution which allows organizers to host a series of unique online concerts or events each limited to a targeted geographical area the way a physical in-person tour would be.
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