The pandemic as a catalyst for culture shifts

For trendwatchers, the pandemic is a remarkable and fascinating event that spurs slow-moving macro trends and acts as a catalyst for culture shifts. As a result, COVID-19 has rapidly altered the trajectory of existing consumer trends we’ve been tracking, as well as creating entirely new ones. Although we are used to living in a continuously changing environment, we have not encountered such a disruptive event on a global level since the financial crisis of 2008.

As Head of Culture + Trends at InSites Consulting, I’ve interviewed leading-edge consumers and consulted with our local trend advisors to understand the longer-term impact of this pandemic. One area that I’m particularly excited about is how the mega trend of ‘eco mandate’ has been accelerated by COVID-19.

The confinement to our homes during lockdown made it clear that we need the beautiful untamed glory of nature to boost our mood and overall well-being. From moving out of the city, or finding a home with a garden, to burgeoning plant ownership – people actively tried to bring more green into their everyday life. As soon as COVID-19 regulations allowed, many rediscovered the joy of spending time outdoors and installed a new intimacy with nature around them. Think for example about the renewed interest in stargazing, forest bathing, hiking and camping, or even the rise of the ‘cottagecore’ fashion trend with its long prairie dresses, cozy jumpers and floral patterns.

Post-COVID-19, I expect we will maintain this drive to live closer to and more harmoniously with our environment. As our appreciation for nature grows, people will recognize we need to nurture nature in order for nature to nurture us. This will shift consumer expectations from harnessing nature for our benefit – simply taking what we need and want – towards a more respectful relationship. I predict a growing demand for brands that support this human/nature symbiosis by helping consumers bring nature into their home, or to rewild their outdoor spaces. The ‘going back to nature’ trend creates a demand for products that use unadulterated ingredients or alternative materials, and services that support our enjoyment of the great outdoors in ways that make a genuinely positive impact on the planet.

Curious how the pandemic acted as a tailwind, accelerating shifts both on the consumer and the business side? Download our latest digital bookzine Better Together: From consumer intelligence to consumer intuition.

Eager for more information on how our Culture + Trends offering can boost your consumer understanding? Get in touch or sign up for the virtual launch of our 2021 Culture + Trends Report: Happiness Reset.
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