Not another ‘new normal’ report

The fact that marketing is prone to hyperbole aside, I’d like to provide a counterclaim to the daily industry spamming about how COVID-19 is going to change everything, forever.

It’s doubtful. In our three million plus years of human evolution we have seen and been through a lot. Adaptation is our game. It’s what made us unique and successful as species.

We might be over sentimentalising our current, temporary, predicament to conflate something we perhaps wish for in marketing services; that we are entering a brave new world where suddenly we will step out of our front doors and into a new post-vaccine landscape where our lives will be changed forever. So, in preparation, we better read (insert report/podcast/video/Zoom live meeting invite…)

It’s certainly a convenient platform for AdTech, eCommerce, data providers and the flux of digital crystal ball navel-gazers, but perhaps we should take a dose of our own short-term vs. long term medicine cabinet.

Two things to note in this regard:

Firstly, COVID 19 is an accelerant for change, not the cause. It is merely quickening the pace of what has been happening over the past 20 years. The truth is the 4th industrial revolution has

been gradually disrupting legacy businesses for some time now. Like natural selection, the weak and ill-equipped firms have gone bust, and many new ones emerged. The old marketing principles are still as relevant now — follow and anticipate people’s behaviours.

Secondly, behavioural economics are not going to shift overnight. With regards to following and anticipating people’s behaviours ­– we are largely creatures of habit who are genetically engineered to always seek the status quo and equilibrium. This means cultural and economic paradigm shifts are always gradual. People will look to get back to similar routines, albeit slightly accelerated in the context to digitisation platforms.

The long-term view is that the virus is a speed ramp (in the scale of human pandemics) to quicken the pace of wider change.

Any lasting impact from the virus will likely be more subtle and perhaps more to do with self-identity, community spirit, and how we value and prioritise our personal time.

I’ve stopped reading the reports. Their purpose really was only to initially orient ourselves not to navigate us. For me, true navigation happens only through experiencing the world first-hand. In this instance, in all its virtual wonder.

What I see is an increased level of productivity related to our cultural industries. And the great irony is that it’s because of lockdown.

Confinement and restriction breed creativity. I wonder at the number of new books, music, screenplays, apps, art and ways to engage in self-expression and community that will be developed as a consequence. I imagine it will be considerable.

It’s the time well spent in quality endeavours that interest me, and it brings it back to something more human, which is that the power of ideas and creativity to connect and engage is timeless. Still, it’s the ability (how) to create those ideas which have fundamentally changed in the digital economy. Evidence of this can be found on any social platform, be it Twitch, TikTok, or podcasts (shameless plug). The ingenuity, humanity and creative spirit is alive and well, perhaps even more so than ever, and you don’t need a report to witness the humanity.

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