There is no right or wrong way to navigate the time spent in quarantine. It’s completely disrupted our usual routines, forcing us to develop new patterns and reframe our daily lives. What's interesting to observe is our ability to adapt to this extraordinary situation with different coping characteristics.
At first, self-isolation causes a high level of anxiety and stress, no matter our individual situations. As time passes, people try to respond positively to the challenge of self-distancing and slowly move towards more resilient attitudes. Interestingly and despite the deficit of social interactions, we've become more united and compassionate to one another. Regardless of the stage, social media continues to provide a virtual space to socialise, and with it, insights on how to cope.
What kind of routines positively impact consumers? What does a successful quarantine look like? What position should brands take to stay connected with consumers? We observed two main mindsets (what we call “tribes”) emerging on social media, both trying to make the best out of the situation.
One tribe measures success by its level of productivity while the other is focused on their capacity to rest and chill. While the techniques differ, the ultimate goal is a common one - to reach the “feel-good” factor.
Three C's for quarantine:— Mediocre Bard (@Mediocre_Bard) March 29, 2020
Be Clean. Take steps to prevent the spread of your illness.
Be Cool. Accept that others deal with stress in different ways and remain tolerant.
Be Calm. Don't panic buy or let your anxiety creep on you.#ShowerThoughts #Quarantine
Quarantine as an opportunity to take action: #StayActive
For some people, it's when times get tough that they find a way to flourish, taking the lifestyle shift as a good opportunity to make things work. Indeed, many consumers tackle self-isolation with a “productive mindset”. They want to keep moving and building things as a matter of mental survival. A dedicated hashtag #StayActive emerged during the lockdown, symbolizing this philosophy well.
this quarantine is the perfect time to work on yourself and your surroundings. work out, try recipes, read a book, clean, learn something new. i’m working on this bc i find myself wasting time being lazy. STAY ACTIVE physically & mentally.😌☀️🦋— lvuren (@lvurren) April 4, 2020
The most discussed topic relating to a routine is “home workouts”. It has registered an increase of 133% over the last month. Many existing fitness consumers chose to carry on with their routines while others decided to start their fitness journey influenced by online workouts videos. As a result, the demand for at home sport equipment surged in the past few weeks, with retailers quickly running out of stock. Those who didn't manage to purchase in time, utilise online videos and personal trainers such as Pamela Reif who offers home workouts on Youtube. The instructor gained over 500K subscriptions and recorded + 43M unique views during the month of March alone.
Hashtags specifically aimed at offering communities a boost in motivation have emerged across the social web. #quarantineworkouts (18.8K posts on Instagram) and the very familiar #noexcuses hashtag which increased by 27% since the beginning of March, both imply that staying fit should be a top priority. Joining the conversation, Nike launched a digital campaign “Play Inside, Play For the World” encouraging fans to continue their exercise routine at home. So far the hashtags #playinside and #playfortheworld accounted for 28K and 19.2K Instagram mentions respectively. The brand reiterated its mission on April 6th with the #livingroomcup operation kicked off by the superstar ambassador Cristiano Ronaldo. As part of the activation, he challenges his followers to beat his core crusher record on Instagram, a post gathering 28M in reach and more than 85K engagement actions.
It’s not only fitness leading consumption behavior. Now more than ever consumers are dedicating time to health and wellbeing, and are seeking ways to educate themselves about the different paths to self-care. Conversations using this term rose by 85%.
“Healthy meals” increased by 109% in the past month, demonstrating that consumers want to explore new positive habits, taking inspiration from Instagram foodie accounts such as deliciouslyella who gained +202% followers over the last month. Although still a relatively niche topic, meditation seems to be gaining popularity as online users mentioned it 68% more during the month of March. Despite social distancing, worldwide meditation movements such as 444 Portal are still gathering thousands of faithful followers online.
Among these self-disciplined and proactive consumers, some choose self-education as a quarantine growth driver. Conversations mentioning “coding course” or the popular app Duolingo rose by 73% and 34% respectively, suggesting that users seek to either redefine their career or get out of the isolation with a stronger curriculum vitae. The good news for them is that learning material is abundant online, as companies strive to answer this specific demand by offering free courses and webinars.
Good 21st century wfh compatible skills you can start to learn during the lockdown:— 𝗪𝗲𝗹𝗹 𝗣𝗮𝗶𝗱 𝗚𝗲𝗲𝗸 🚀💻 (@WellPaidGeek) April 6, 2020
* UX design
* Social media marketing
* Online sales
Quarantine as an endless lazy Sunday: #QuarantineAndChill
Let’s move on to the second mindset which, in full transparency, represents the vast majority of us. Its often the target of blame in our hectic and busy lifestyles.
Expectation-free and more virtually active, the Procrastination mindset refuses to follow the fashionable norms of staying active for the sake of health and self-development. Indeed, quarantine disrupted their time management or simply brought back “bad habits”. At the same time, it seems to be the most convenient and comforting lifestyle so why not?
There are many reasons why consumers prefer to lounge. Some take advantage of this unique time to heal a mental or physical burnout, while others seek to live the Italian concept of “Dolce Far Niente” accounting for 5,300 posts in March, advocating for a slow life and rest.
Across all routines streaming comes out on top as one of the key activities occupying consumers’ days. The hashtag #NetflixAndChill rose by 109% in the past month, and is a reason why the company had to reduce its data rate by 25% across Europe.
This is the best time to get a good skincare regime, workout routine, healthy eating plan, early bed time, good nights sleep & save money. Am I gonna do that?— claire (@clgascoignex) April 5, 2020
No. My fat ass is staying up late binging food & Netflix, only moving between bedroom & kitchen & spending money on gin.
A rather trivial, even irrelevant activity, but very much at the top of the list is “browsing social media”. Consumption of content produced on social channels has risen exponentially. According to a report by Hammerkopf Consumer Survey, social media usage increased by 87% since the lockdown occurred in India, prior to the week it was established. Another report by App Annie tells us that consumers spend 20% more time on their phone, which corresponds with our social data demonstrating that posts mentioning TikTok increased by 72% compared to the previous month.
Although the browsing activity can be entertaining, an obsessive mindless scroll can leave a bitter taste and affect mental health. In fact, conversations around “screen time”, mostly generating negative feelings, rose by 39% in March. Users mainly question and raise their concerns on how technology is actually taking over their lockdown life, due to the high number of hours spent on social media “binge scrolling”.
Screen time on my phone has gone waaaay up since lockdown. Way too much mindless scrolling, need to start enforcing limits and use my time better. Technology is great but need to use it instead of let it use you.— Sam Neter 🦏 (@SamNeter) April 4, 2020
Understanding behaviours is key
These are extraordinary times to develop new bonds with consumers. Through tracking and comparing behaviors of specific tribes, brands can gain a deeper understanding of their global community.
Through observing the COVID-19 conversation we were able to identify two distinct mindsets and ways of living. Whilst they share an overarching goal, their tactics and consumption habits differ. Responding to those in a relevant, positive way and encouraging engagement is how brands can participate in this global conversation.