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With festivities just around the corner, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the ‘holiday’ season we once knew will look and feel quite different this year.

Bubbled households, places of worship delivering services via Zoom, spilling mulled wine on the living room carpet rather than the tiled floor of your local pub… are all notable changes that serve as a harsh reminder of the impact COVID has had on our lives, and effect how we can celebrate the uniquely human rituals of the festive season.

So, as the Winter-y days turn ever-darker, and as our news is filled with rising R rates, dictatorships continuing to fail their people, and former-Presidents denying democracy…it is easy to feel lost in this seemingly perpetual ‘darkness’. …


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As a host of European countries are plunged into another series of restrictions and national lockdowns, it would seem to be all too easy for brands and businesses to simply keep the ship afloat, putting growth plans and innovation agendas on the back-burner.

During the pandemic, it’s been said that “change is the only constant and disruption is the new normal”. With this in mind, brands must look to lean into these prevailing winds rather than attempt to hide from them.

If the first 8 months of COVID has taught us anything, it’s that fostering bravery, belief (in your vision), and creativity is the only way that brands will overcome these ‘uncertain times’ and charge into 2021 with their commercial health intact. …


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Has there ever been a more significant or polarising US Presidential Election? Donald Trump or Joe Biden? Who will be leading the Western World after next week? And could there ever be a bigger contrast in what it means to be a leader?

Love or loathe Donald Trump (and to declare my bias upfront, I’m firmly in the latter camp), you just can’t ignore him. His box office appeal is solid gold. …


Source: Business Insider

Last year, if someone had greeted me with a ‘foot shake’ I’d assume insanity, but in October 2020 it’s practically de rigueur. Instead of a hug we’re now exchanging tentative waves. Even Trump now accepts an elbow shake rather than touching another’s “disgusting” hand. Fundamentally, the ways in which we greet each other have changed as we physically distance ourselves from one another, in an attempt to keep the world safe.

An interaction as simple as a handshake between two strangers is no longer a friendly greeting but a potentially embarrassing, risky and ‘irresponsible’ act in the age of COVID-19.

Greetings may now be preceded by a moment of hesitation to decode another’s ‘COVID comfort level’. Is there yet a COVID-specific word to articulate the acute embarrassment of misreading the signs and getting the greeting wrong? The feeling of being left with a handshake hanging in mid-air, your gesture returned with a curt nod. …


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We’ve always believed that focussing on human feelings and emotions is critical in our insight and innovation work, so it’s interesting to note that financial services are now also seeing the true monetary value in understanding human beings.

We’ve read Deloitte’s latest publication around the Human Experience and applaud the auditing giant for making inroads towards empathy and swapping stats for stories. We believe imitation to be the greatest form of flattery, so we aren’t sore about the name of the report (the cheque, we assume, is in the post). …


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If lockdown and virtual working has taught us anything, it is perhaps the value and importance of our teams, and how we all work and interact together. So, as we slowly begin to spend the odd day back in the office, it made me think about why.

Why do we do what we do? If it’s all about productivity, then many businesses have been managing just fine. But it’s not, is it? Surely there is some bigger, broader purpose to our work. A sense of belonging, a shared culture, a collegiate team. …


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The “best marketers will be upping, not cutting, their budgets”. Whilst that may be the message from Mark Ritson, the truth is almost half of the UK marketers plan to cut their spend in the second half of 2020.

Though global brands such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Adidas have all said they will reinvest in marketing to boost their businesses as lockdowns loosen, data suggests that many are still concerned about the pandemic’s impact on the economy, restricted consumer spending, and uncertainty over a second wave.

As such, just 7% of UK marketers say their brands are taking a strategic approach to invest more in marketing during the coronavirus pandemic, with the vast majority forced to maintain or cut spend in the face of business disruption. …


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You’d be forgiven for reading the title of this post with a degree of scepticism, or even confusion, as we remain in the midst of the global pandemic. This is perhaps the greatest, and most visible global problem we’ve faced in a generation.

Across the world people are utilising a desperate situation, using it as an opportunity to address issues that go beyond the immediacy of the here and now to focus on problems that plagued humanity long before COVID.

Lockdown has provided a period of reflection; months spent without seeing family and friends, a summer without sport, and no easy way to jump on a plane to escape the whole ‘thing’, has forced many of us to revaluate how fortunate we were BC* (before COVID). …


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Source: Shutterstock

We recently ran a Post-Traumatic-Growth webinar, looking at 5 psychologically grounded principles to help brand and business recovery. One of the salient themes that really struck me was a discussion around how the “mass deprivation” exercise we have all been through has forced us to assess what we really value in life. So now we’re beginning to emerge into the world again, what have you missed most during lockdown?

The trite answers for me are watching football (aka “soccer”) and drinking draught beer in a pub. The combination can be devastating. But as sport came back, and pubs dispensed takeaway pints, I realised that it was about much more than this. Football without fans is just not the same. It’s one of those hollow experiences, like low fat chocolate, mimed ‘live’ music or fake suntan. I have become addicted to the fake crowd noises, and even feel better when fake cardboard cut-out spectators adorn the stands! …


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Source: Shutterstock

It’s shocking to think that a virus — a microscopic particle that is invisible to the naked eye — was successfully able to put the entire world on hold. While there have been many industries facing the wrath of this ‘invisible enemy’, as borders closed, travel came to a halt and people huddled in their homes for several months at a time. It is no surprise therefore that this resulted in devastating losses for Airlines in particular — an industry already notorious for its low profitability.

It’s safe to say that airlines and airports around the world will need to have a ‘Covid-19 makeover’, creating a different travel experience and taking on a whole host of new challenges head on; how will passengers be seated and in-flight services managed? how do crew members greet with warm welcomes whilst dressed in PPE? and with elements of ‘luxury’ stripped back for safety and financial reasons, will a Business or First Class experience ever feel the same? …

About

The Human Experience (HX)

Human-Centered Insight, Innovation and Trends from Brand Genetics www.brandgenetics.com

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