27th April 2020

The New Normal - The oxymoron of lockdown

By Marco Rimini, Global Chief Development Officer, Mindshare

We all know that life will change forever but at the moment every day seems the same.

However, in the middle of the practical stresses of lockdown are being seeded the attitudes and behaviours that will lead to the ‘new normal’.

A new balance between work and home.

A new personal ‘zero based budgeting’ -  did it really matter what the brand of loo roll was? 

A new re-evaluation of quality time - after spending lots of it with family or for some without family, by yourself or with new partners.

A new reality of a life and career based on gigs and freelance contracts.

A new way of shopping limited by time, distance and availability.

A new entertainment paradigm - all screen based or home based. 

But this current situation will end.

Once we have transitioned through the stages of lockdown grief to the emotional release of a return to society, we will inevitably go through a period of reassessment and review where options for change seem possible and practical in a way they haven’t (in the West) for a generation.

‘If I can survive that I can change this’ – this will be the attitude that gives birth to the ‘new normal’. Born in lockdown, shaped in release and reassessment and then habituated in the phase of the new normal.

So for businesses close to culture, as all good businesses are, we could see an explosion of imaginative innovation and also existential structural threat:

  • A new yardstick for business transactions - if it can’t survive a lockdown it’s out.
  • A new impatience for bureaucracy - if we could move the office out in 24 hrs we can launch innovations more quickly than that.
  • A new belief in direct communication - Why don’t we talk directly to our customers, why do we allow the  retailers to own them.
  • A new focus on values - why do we sell on price not values? And why aren’t we selling direct?
  • A new re-evaluation of privacy - Why don’t we provide health services on top of digital platforms? And why do I care about data privacy if it’s saves lives?
  • A new belief in business transformation - Why does my supply chain extend to the other side of the world? Why do I source just in time?
  • Oxymoron is a beautiful word. It is autological, in that it is itself an example of an oxymoron. It is also derived from the Greek for two words ‘sharp’ and ‘dull’ – an antonym pair that aptly fits our new predicament.
  • During this period we will be measuring both the sharp transitions from one phase to another - from Lockdown to Release to Review and on towards the New Normal - and within those phases, the ‘dull’ tremors beneath the surface noise that may give sight of attitudes and behaviours that will shift from the periphery to the centre from the oddball to the average, from the unlikely to the new normal.

We will have to map how these transitions and tremors differ by region, because in Asia some of what we view in the West as the ‘new normal’ is simply ‘normal’. In those cultures where dramatic shifts have happened over the last 20 years such movements are more likely to feel like a set of cultural adjustments on an already fast flowing magma, whereas in the West they are more likely to feel like cracks in the bedrock.

Scenario Planning for the new normal can be structured around these phases.

How do we plan during lockdown, plan for release, plan for reassessment and review and so help create  a positive new normal for our clients?

Lockdown - All about The Now. What do I need now ? How do I entertain the family ? Are brands in this with me?

Release and Review - Maybe a slow or fast release? Adrenalin or Mindfulness. A period of rediscovery, relearning, review. What do I really value? What would I like to stop doing, start doing, continue to do? Are brands understanding where I’m going and going there with me?

And into The New Normal - I can’t believe there was a time I didn’t do this? I’m glad we’ve changed and feel optimistic about where we are going. My favourite brands are those that have been on that journey with me and understand where we are going .

If we can take some time to think positively about our new lives after this is over, perhaps out of this trauma can come great, good things for us our people and our clients

The ultimate oxymoron of our times – a ‘transformative lockdown’.

Mindshare Global
    Mindshare Global