• Stephen McCarron

New lockdown behaviours may not last forever

For some brands lockdown created new opportunities.

The constraints of lockdown triggered new consumer behaviours.

The extremity of the threat prompted reappraisal of attitudes and values.

One example is in the area of health and fitness, and in particular exercise.

When we went into lockdown we were told that we could only each have one portion of outdoor exercise per day, otherwise we had to stay indoors.

Scarcity (of opportunity to go outside), made exercise feel more vaulable.

The gift of time (and drudge of boredom) removed pre-lockdown barriers (excuses) for participation.

The streets were flooded with sweaty joggers, new to the sport, determined to use their daily allowance.

According to YouGov data (chart below), non-participation of weekly exercise dropped from a 2020 high of 30% in Feb to 21% in the first month of lockdown - an enormous 30% drop.

That's potentially a 30% increase in demand for sports clothes - a fantastic opportunity for athletics brands, especially if many of these are new people coming into the market.

However, since then, we have gradually seen the levels creep back up again - we're back at 27% of people doing no exercise in the last week.

It's a salutory warning that even following times of emormous upheaval and change, new behaviours quickly recalibrate to the old equilibriums.

So, this is a rally cry for brands everywhere who have cashed-in on lockdown behaviour change. It may not last forever. The past three months have been about Operations delivering unforseen surges in demand. However, these surges will soon settle. It's now time to hand the baton to Marketing, to figure out how to translate these short-term behaviour shifts into long-term habits that generate value for business and brand. Whereas lock-down success was about cashing-in on circumstance, post-lock-down prosperity will involve smart marketing which perpetuates the habit. It's time for Marketing to take centre stage.

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