2021 will be the year in which we begin to overhaul the systems and industries that were the foundations of society for decades. Talk of the new normal should be left behind. Instead, the focus for businesses needs to be on creating the new extra-ordinary.
This marks a seismic shift in a consumer mindset that will have varying implications for different sectors. As the long-term impacts of economic collapse, remote working, expedited digitisation and a collective health crisis are felt on a micro-level, organisations will be the ones to foster a re-ignited sense of optimism and rebuild their entire businesses for a polarised commercial landscape.
After all, the responsibility for creating safer, greener and more robust systems is being placed on businesses as never before. A global study by Edelman recently found that 55% of consumers believe brands are more accountable than government – and faster to take action to change things for the better.
‘This is a rare opportunity to change course because it won’t be long before the societal antibodies from this once-in-a-century pandemic begin to fade,’ says Toby Ord, senior research fellow at Oxford University.
This is a rare opportunity to change course before the societal antibodies from this once-in-a-century pandemic begin to fade
In 12 months, we have come far from the novelties that came with the first wave of global lockdowns. In stark contrast to what was initially dubbed a collective sense of solidarity, the disparities in government action and progress between countries have left the world at startlingly different stages of the pandemic response.
Truly disruptive behaviour, services and business actions have taken place across sectors. Wellbeing and social inequality have been thrust into mainstream consciousness, businesses have changed at a moment’s notice, consumers have adopted entirely new ways of living and working on a mass scale, and brands have reset antiquated missions to focus solely on solutions.
Dislocated World: Consumers and businesses alike have been dropped into a new reality of daily unpredictability in which the only certainty is constant change. But while citizens are adapting their lifestyles en masse, the younger generation will be the ones to face the long-term consequences.
Accelerating Technologies: According to McKinsey & Co, we saw five years of digital progress in the first eight weeks of the pandemic alone. With technology becoming ever more intertwined with our daily lives, its advancements are transforming the speed at which we live, work and forge connections.
Urban Mindset: With their own cultural and economic micro-climates, cities were already undergoing transformation before the pandemic. Covid-19 has only accelerated this process, unravelling the flurry of city life and placing a greater emphasis on slow living, sustainability and health.
Global vs Local: The notion of a Post-growth Society has been brought to the fore as the pandemic revealed the inefficiencies and inequalities of the capitalist system. With governments flailing, businesses are now being expected to integrate new metrics that will put health, happiness and the environment at the heart of the economy.