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The authority on gender empowerment in business for nearly 20 years.

Nicola Cooper, senior trend researcher and analyst looks at The New Normal

Written by Staff Writer

May 18, 2020

As we enter into the staged, easing of lockdown many are attempting to understand what the long and short term ramifications of COVID-19 will have on our economy, businesses and day to day routines.

The idea of life resuming to a sense of normalcy seems to be a desire of what has gone before, every day we are understanding the present there comes a slow realisation that, though some aspects of life may return to similar routines as before, many will be forever changed and asking ourselves if it is a bad thing?

With the new discernment towards health, wellness and well-being, permanent shifts in the supply chain, retail, e-commerce patterns, and hygiene customs and a greater value shift as people questioning what is essential in their lives.

As this develops, so too will purchasing priorities and patterns, with this shift likely to collapse outdated practices, and, hopefully, lead the development of ground-breaking innovation or to accelerate necessary and inevitable change to a ‘new normal’.

The landscape is a scary one of extraordinary change on a colossal level that will inevitably be met with similar stages of grief anger, denial and of course it will, we are living a trauma, a crisis there is no business as usual, and if there is a manual on pandemics very few of us had access to it. It is going to take us a while to let go of the romanticism of Pre-COVID to reach a level of acceptance, that is perfectly natural.

But, with all the negativity and devastating impact of COVID-19, there are a few silver linings and once we have grieved life as it was, accepting that there is a new now and a future that we get to define or create. If that is not powerful, what is?

There is an impact for consumers of all backgrounds, of all interests, of all age groups. And there are ramifications for every industry, the best we can do is arm ourselves with constructive insights to support in the steps into a better understanding the present and to best prepare for the new future.

We have selected 3 important macro trends that translate across categories, races, age and geographical boundaries that we refer as ‘the golden thread’ in the trend world.



Wellness has been an impactful lifestyle trend that has created many business, innovation and product development opportunities. Times of uncertainty and crisis have proven to ignite great innovation and creative solutions; seizing an opportunity and embrace new ways of living.

Wellness expenditures in 2017 surpassed half of the healthcare-related spending during the same year. Data provided by the World Health Organisation pinpoint general healthcare spending to $7.3 trillion in 2017.

Analysts also seem to believe that these numbers will continue to increase, given the population growth and the rising popularity of the trend and the awareness the COVID-19 has perpetuated.

The wellness landscape has developed well beyond nutritional intake or exercise into a far more holistic space with a view on wellbeing, providing physical, emotional, mental and financial health, as a means of creating a sense identity, pride and control in a landscape where people feel lost.

Consumers are observing the response to the current crisis – manufacturers are re-adjusting their production to help with shortages, communities are rallying together to take the power of change into their own hands, which will ensure that brands/businesses will be held accountable and loyalty for future consumption is what is being formulated at present.

While some of these trends surfaced already, the wellness category is still a rising one, the impact will be more significant in light of the future of our economy and the switch we’ve experienced in our lives during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Individuals are wanting a better, safer and healthier life and what we do can to assist them on this path will lead to a great journey of discovery, invention and engagement.



Now, more than ever, recognising changing behaviours and understanding your consumer’s lifestyles and attitudes demanding the adaption to forward-thinking and emotional intelligence needs to guide your future strategies and developments.

A sudden shift of values reminds us of the most central ingredient of culture and one, dare we say, which has has been lacking – humanity.

COVID-19 has highlighted the worse of society and simultaneously the very best. These lifestyle shifts are currently driven by the COVID-19 virus but if continued, will improve our overall wellbeing, creating meaningful connections and a valuable reminder of humanity.

Shifts we have been watching for years are fast-tracked into enforced early adoption. Some of the most rigid of businesses, hesitant to transform into viable remote systems, have had no choice but to adapt, and are realising, that, in most cases, it is possible to succeed, with some forever changed and beginning to let go of the old office structure.

The ability to work from home and the emergence of digital office rental services such as WeWork are changing how we think about work, travel and wellness.

Our homes have become multipurpose environments with the increase of home offices, home gyms with digital workouts or even the creation of isolation pockets for those who need to decompress in a peaceful surrounding.

In addition to us reimagining our homes COVID-19, despite the immense fear, pressure and uncertainty, has also highlighted the importance of community. From neighbourhood WhatsApp groups checking in, to the reappreciation of essential workers, to the adaptation of businesses to support those they value and care for, the necessary support we can offer one another has emphasised how working together to build a future of possibilities has taken on a new significance and broader appeal.



Slower consumption and putting the planet before industries will be integral to building our new business models. The current global pandemic is the accelerant to creating smarter, more sustainable processes with people, planet and profit outweighing unnecessary purchasing or ‘aesthetic desires’.

The world has witnessed our impact on the environment and the reduction of air pollution across the world. Waters have become clearer and wildlife is returning. While this is temporary and life will resume, the awareness will still exist and consumer purchases will be made with much more consideration; is it a necessary purchase? Is this ethical? Can it be recycled?

Consumers are no longer purchasing products without the deeper desire to align their choices with their values, their aspirations and desires.

In 2020, a business’s view on issues such as an ethical works force, diversity and inclusion, climate change and sustainability will become even more important, and not just for our younger consumers – Gen Z or Gen Alpha.

Businesses with foresight taking a strong stance about social and political issues might seem counterintuitive but it has been found in RetailMeNot’s report that a 87% of retailers said that it’s worth it. And even more striking, 83% believe that not taking a stand is bad for business.

What has been coined ‘The Brand Stand’ extends beyond marketing innovations with consumer trust at an all-time low – and the demands for the bigger picture and how or what local business are doing to positively impact the country or benefit their consumers, their communities or their workers is far more than brand activism, such as Nike’s Caster Semenya campaign or featuring diversity in an advertorial.

Radical Transparency is in demand across the board in the fashion industry, from design, supply chain and production through to mark-up to item profits, and continues to push and disrupt all facets of businesses. The more forward-thinking brands are looking to do more than just raise awareness. They are looking to influence and change the rules of the game for the better. And where they lead, customer expectations and demands will follow.



The above macro trends mark the most predominant and fundamental message. The emphasis on humanity – the fragility of life and the vulnerability of our neighbours and communities has created an inevitable shift in how we approach life with COVID-19 and how do we prepare or ensure long-lasting change when this crisis passes and when the road to recovery lay before us

We have a moment to ask ourselves are the changes we have made, or are making, for the better? Are we approaching the worlds ‘new normal’ with the learnings of COVID-19? Do we have a better understanding of our fellow consumers shift to opt to engage and support business, brands or products that align to their existing or newly awakened, personal opinions, do they support communities and minorities? Ask yourself, how you are going to adapt to consumers inescapable shift towards a new form of positive, truthful engagement and conscious consumption, because, if you were waiting for a sign, here it is.

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