The fragmentation of the Covid experience

Category: Covid-19, eCommerce, consumer

The fragmentation of the Covid experience

Since The Cocktail Analysis began to monitor the Covid experience, we have been identifying a progressive fragmentation of the experience: if in the confinement there was a certain homogenisation of the experience (same rules for everyone, shared moment of shock), the de-escalation began a process of differentiation, since we 'went out into the world' in very different ways depending on various factors (having or not passed the illness, having suffered economic losses, being or living with someone at risk...). At present, these fractures, both material and emotional, seem to be deepening. But let's start with some cross-cutting features... 


Widespread frustration and scepticism towards 'big' messages calling for unity.


The month of October has been characterised by an accelerated worsening of the health situation, emotional exhaustion and disorientation about the rules to be followed. Thus, compared to the sadness of March, the resignation of April and May and the confusion of the summer and September, the most frequently mentioned feeling now is frustration.


And this is noticeable in the perception of advertising campaigns: in April, highly 'emotional' campaigns with messages appealing to the unity of society received an excellent rating and brands managed to convey values of commitment and feelings of optimism and hope. 


However, these same codes are now sterile: epic appeals to the shared drama of the pandemic and the possibility of overcoming it together do not resonate: the lack of political consensus, the dynamics of mutual accountability and, above all, the feeling that not everyone is going to 'pay the price' for the crisis to the same extent cause scepticism towards brand messages that refer to "collaboration" but in a vague way, without offering concrete benefits, and claiming an importance that does not correspond to them. 

Shrinking social habits and spending restraint.


October looks even weaker than September in terms of social habits (bearing in mind that the survey was conducted before the partial hospitality closures and curfews came into effect, so presumably the trend is even more acute now): leisure in shared spaces was much reduced, with figures for visits to bars, terraces, restaurants and shopping centres down compared to September and compared to the outlook in July.


In terms of spending, we have been speculating for months that the consumer will adopt an attitude of spending control and that time seems to be approaching. Although there are differences by category, compared to September, the gap between those who say they will spend less than the same month last year and those who will spend more widens to double. 


The fragmentation of the experience: attitudinal profiles.


We began by saying that the experience of the pandemic was fragmenting, and these fractures become clear when we look beyond the overall figures. The classic socio-demographic variables show statistically significant differences:


  • By gender, women fare worse: they experience more frustration and more anger than men, and less hope and support. They are also more likely to be caring for dependent family members as a result of the pandemic.
  • By socio-economic status, the lower strata have fewer teleworking options, more cases of coronavirus around, have been more affected in terms of income and feel more sad.
  • By age, and this is very significant, young people (18-34 years) experience more frustration and bewilderment and have much less confidence that "everything is going to be alright".


In order to deepen this analysis of the fracture lines of the Covid experience, we have carried out a clustering exercise, and these are the 5 groups identified with respect to their way of 'transiting' the Covid experience:


  • The resilient: The crisis has affected her both economically and emotionally. She is particularly concerned about her economic future. However, she tries to overcome the situation, trying to lead as normal a life as possible.
  • The frightened one: she has had close cases of Covid and is very sensitive to the health issue. Emotionally she feels very affected, focused on sadness and grief. However, she has avoided the economic impact. 
  • The empowered: She has come out of the crisis unscathed. It has not affected them economically and has affected them weakly emotionally (much less than any other group). They feel optimistic about the future and try to "take the heat off" the situation.  He thinks that people "are too worried about it". 
  • The expectant: he is concerned about the long-term evolution of the economic question, more as a matter of expectations for the future than for the present. He feels emotionally unaffected and denies that the pandemic is omnipresent.
  • The shocked person: feels very affected emotionally. They find it difficult to switch off and feel a certain obsession. His mood is even worse in this second wave. They have had people close to them who are affected. The least shares the idea of "I refuse to live in fear". Financial issues are also a source of concern. 


Recommendations for brands.


Given the economic and emotional fragmentation, brands' strategies on what and how to communicate should be equally fragmented.

Opt for a smaller us: communicate for my benefit and the benefit of my people.

Monitor the potential for spending retrenchment.

In communication, references to the social context should take a back seat to messages that highlight the direct benefit to the consumer. Need for consistency in what you say/do. 

You can consult the full report here.