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Assertions about the 'new normal' are coming at us thick and fast – safety theatre, virtual nightclubs, extreme cocooning, working from home, contactless delivery, climate awakening, death of bricks and mortar, shopstreaming – but which are real? Which are here to stay? And which are just hot air?

In our latest Pandemic Culture series 'Is it a thing?', we’re putting ideas about the new normal on trial. By fact-checking media claims and applying our trademark analysis, we’re evaluating whether these shifts are real, and if they are, what they mean for brands. Join us this Thursday 2nd July for Week 3, where we'll be looking at 'Socially Distanced Retail'.

Here's a run-down of what's been on the webinar so far: 

Week 1 - The Lost Generation

Will Gen Z really become ‘the Lost Generation’ – or are they laying the foundations for social change? 

By dissolving campus life and cancelling post-grad placements, the pandemic has thrown a wrench into Gen Zers’ immediate plans. Coupled with a recession that will affect some more than others, the future isn’t looking too bright.

Disrupting campus life and post-grad placements, the pandemic has thrown a wrench into Gen Z's plans
Baylee Gramling (2020) ©

But at the same time, we’re seeing Zers play a prominent role in the Black Lives Matter movement. For a generation that has long been “institution-cynical” – and less likely to play by previous generations’ rules when it comes to work, education, and upholding the status quo – the present moment holds potential for monumental social change. 

So is it a thing?

This group has had to miss out on important life milestones, and a personal sense of injustice is shaping their wants and needs. But far from lost, progressive Gen Zers are spearheading important changes, and they're seeking meaning and coherence through humour.

Week 2 - Entertainment From a Distance

Will digital-first events stick around post-lockdown?

With more time, more distance, and more anxiety, people have been exploring various forms of virtual entertainment during lockdown, from live-streamed music festivals to esports games. It seems like no amount of Zoom club nights or pub quizzes can satisfy the desire to let loose – but will that be the case for all forms of entertainment?

Live-streaming presents opportunities for experimentation and deeper fan connections
Mikey Wu (2020) ©

In this webinar, we identify how lockdown has shifted people's entertainment habits, explore any permanent behavioral changes, and evaluate what leisure will look like in the 'new normal'.

So is it a thing?

Live-streaming is not going to replace real-life gigs any time soon, but it does present opportunities for experimentation and deeper fan connections. This could mean that live-streaming becomes a ‘third’ form of entertainment, with the potential to rival live events in terms of emotional significance. 

Week 3 - Socially Distanced Retail

What do shoppers want from stores and e-commerce in the ‘new normal’?

As stores and restaurants reopen across the US and UK, brick-and-mortar spaces are now being defined by yellow caution tape, makeshift shields, one-way arrows, and even infrared thermometers at the door. What’s more, homebound shoppers have become accustomed to ordering everything from produce boxes to designer dresses online.

So is it a thing?

How will store design evolve in the ‘new normal’ to keep customers safe while elevating the shopping experience, and how can e-commerce reinvent itself to improve discovery? Find out in this week’s webinar.

Want to work out which behaviours will make up the new normal and learn from best-in-class responses about how to adapt? Join us this Thursday 2nd July at 4.30 pm GMT for ‘Is It a Thing?’ the new Pandemic Culture webinar edition, with a focus on socially distanced retail. 


30 Jun 20
5 min read

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