The Covid-19 pandemic may be temporary, but economists and behavioral experts say it may leave lasting impact on society. From futuristic business ideas to society norms, here are the predictions for the post coronavirus world from a marketer’s perspective.
For most of us living today, Coronavirus is the first global event of its kind – a pandemic that nobody expected, spread globally in the matter of a month and reduced our species to frightened helpless beings. If history is any example, such events leave lasting impact on society, human behaviour and the economy.
Forecasting the Key Themes in the Post Coronavirus World
While the pandemic has temporarily changed the way we work and live across the world, some of these changes will become permanent. We are already observing new norms in behaviour, such as how people handle mental health, how social distancing and work from home is gaining acceptance. People are also focusing on personal hygiene and overall health.
But what will be the lasting effect of Covid-19 – what will the post Coronavirus world really look like? Will things just go back to the way they were? Not at all. According to a paper published by Phillippa Lally, health psychology researcher at University College London, it takes anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form new habits.
It’s been four months since Coronavirus started spreading, and it’s already had a major impact on society and business. Ever since the spread of Coronavirus was given the status of a pandemic by W.H.O., that’s all we have been seeing everywhere in the news.
Yes, there are numerous articles and thoughts circulating all over the internet, where people are trying to tell us how to steer our business and what’s going to happen to the economy, but I doubt any of these writers have any real experience facing a crisis like this. It’s very easy to say things like, ‘keep our costs low’ and ‘optimize our supply chain,’ but such advice is a no-brainer. I am no pandemic expert either, but I will give my honest foresight here about the post Coronavirus world without being pedagogic.
1. We are not going to fall short of people.
With the rising death tolls, many are fearing the world’s population will reduce in the post Coronavirus world. With roughly 8 billion people on earth, we are unlikely going to fall short of man power. Some countries like Russia, which are struggling to increase their population may get affected if their death toll is high. However, most countries should survive, including the small ones, as they can always change their migration policy and optimize their population.
Globally, we have 1.75 million road deaths annually, which are approximately 37,000 daily deaths. With so many less deaths happening due to no road accidents, it’s unlikely we are going to have any impact on the world global population. My prediction is that this daily traffic-related death toll is likely to decrease, as people are likely to travel less by road in future. This will more than compensate for the pandemic loss of human lives.
2. Rise of personal hygiene, sanitization and sensor industry
The 9/11 terror attacks gave a boost to the security equipment industry. Things like metal detectors, and luggage scanner etc. became a common place. Similarly, we will witness something of this sort in the post Coronavirus world, where people will sanitize themselves and rooms before and after meetings, or walking in public places. Things like hand sanitizer, mask, gloves, etc. will become the norm.
This fear will be repeatedly sold to us and it will become a kind of status symbol.
We will witness zero touch facilities, which will have things like auto-open doors, infra-red sensors or voice commands for every possible operation, so that we just don’t need to touch anything in public places. The more expensive the experience, the less surface-touching there will be.
3. Accepting pandemic as black swan event in business plans
All entrepreneurs will face this irritating question in the post Coronavirus world – is their business pandemic proof? What measure they will take to sustain their business in such a scenario? Additionally, businesses or startups that solely focus on ideas that took a hit during this pandemic will find it more difficult to receive funding, at least in the near future.
Furthermore, I believe investors will be very sceptical about investing in additional production capacities with the fear that such back swan events may occur again. Going forward, it’s almost certain that the consumption is going to take a big dip, and it’s going to be some time before consumption exceeds existing production capacities.
4. Rise of the Virtual World
I believe we will start living in a more virtual world than we are now. We will start spending more time indoors and new businesses will try to deliver more value directly to our homes. For example, entertainment, fitness, dining and other such experiences will either become home-focused and touchless.
As such, we may see the next pizza prepared in a bot-run kitchen without human touch. Our experiences with the next big brands will be in hyper-reality. Instead of retail stores, malls, etc. brands will try to connect with consumers online. Brands will also try to move more of their advertising budgets from billboards to internet.
5. Rise of Vegans
In the post Coronavirus world , meat eating civilization will realise that eating meat is not as healthy as they believed. The origins story of corona virus will make more people move towards a vegetarian diet or at least reduce their meat consumption. This will give boost to the synthetic meat industry. In fact, some venture capitalists have already been betting big on them.
6. Increase in work from home culture
It’s anyone guess, that companies will prefer more employees work from home rather than from office as it’s more cost-effective for companies. This is will reduce the demand for overpriced commercial real estate. Also, new businesses that can fully function with work-from-home employees will have better chances of receiving funding.
Shop floor jobs will be become more automated and managers will access manufacturing dashboards from home. Automation and AI will further reduce jobs globally, and family incomes may reduce further. Demand for bigger homes will rise as people are going to spend more time in their homes.
7. Ripple effects of social distancing on relationships
Employees may also start preferring jobs that have work from home benefits and less travel. Families will start spending more time together and it’s highly likely there may be more fallouts in relationships.
Social distancing will become a habit for most people in the post Coronavirus world. Forget shaking hands with strangers, people across cultures will consider it polite to maintain a distance when talking, both with strangers, friends and colleagues.
Alternatively, online first dates will become the norm, and establishing a physical relationship will become a big step for new couples.
8. Emergence of Delivery and Doctor Bots
Bots will become the norm in many more industries. People will prefer being treated by bot-doctors and online therapy sessions. Patrons will prefer bot servers in restaurants.
Delivery bots and drones will become as common as pizza delivery guys in the future.
9. Demand for personal transportation will rise, but public transportation will fall
People will start fearing to travel in cabs, buses, metro rails, etc. Personal transportation will provide people the hygiene they desire. We may be looking at single-driver vehicles or trains with private cabins.
Any place of visit will require pre-booking.
People will consider it unhygienic and impolite if visitors present themselves without notice.
We will start taking personal space much more seriously. Big live events and festival will become things of the past in the post Coronavirus world.
10. International Travel
When traveling to different countries, governments will demand a ‘health visa’ that certifies a traveller’s heath to ensure that they are free of any communicable disease. In pro-cycling, the authorities do a similar check to ensure that no participant is under the influence of performance-enhancing drugs. Called a ‘biological passport’, this is a digital health record of the rider collected over a period of time.
11. Filtration Systems
People will not prefer any space without clean air. Cabs, airplanes and trains will invest in filtration systems. So will office, cinemas and malls. People will begin to prefer personal air-conditioners in residential buildings rather than central cooling systems.
12. End of big cities and the rise of small towns
Once the global trauma of Coronavirus is over, governments will try to spread their populations across cities and towns. Big cities with populations above 20 million will need to de-populate themselves and smaller cities will grow. The post Coronavirus world will also see more concrete inter-city and inter-state borders.
For the wealthy, living in small towns will become more preferable than in downtown areas of metropolises. Having a personal pool and gym will be the status symbol, instead of having a membership of top-class health centers or public pools.
13. Organic and un-processed food will be next luxury
People around the world will want consume more organic food and depend less on processed food. The next health startups will focus not just on weight-loss and aesthetics, but also on holistic health and immunity. Businesses won’t be able to attract customers solely for superficial fitness or belly-fat reduction anymore.
Furthermore, countries will try to make themselves self sufficient in fresh food and reduce their dependency on international trade.
14. Investment in Distance Education Technologies
Currently, universities design courses to encourage class discussion, and social interaction inside and outside the classroom is a big part of education. During the pandemic, educators are learning how a lecture delivered via Zoom or Microsoft Teams is unengaging, and doesn’t provide the experience they intend it to. Moreover, certain schools don’t even have the resources to provide digital education, which is resulting in students missing months’ classes. Some may have to repeat the whole year.
So, in the post coronavirus world, universities and schools will invest more in distance learning technologies. They will try to develop the students’ communication skills through digital methods as well. Prospective students will prefer applying to universities that can uphold the standard of education even through the next pandemic.
15. Shared Spaces will Reshape
This pandemic will change the way people use space. In open office plans and restaurants, people will prefer to sit at least a distance of six-feet from their co-workers. Augmented reality (AR) will become the next thing for businesses to invest in.
Interviews, meetings, dates and even holiday dinners with families in AR will become common.
Masses and religious gatherings may slowly become a thing of the past, or may observe smaller crowds. Spaces that require shared bathrooms like university dorms, spring festival quarters or camping sites will become uncommon. Students, campers, attendees, etc. will prefer personal suites.
16. Fall of global currencies
The coronavirus pandemic is going to have a grave impact on economies around the world as international trade is going to be severely affected. Currencies that are pegged to the US dollar will also dwindle. Since we today depend so much on international trade, a loss of confidence in the US dollar will make international transaction a big problem.
Countries will then need to hedge their currencies with a tangible commodity like gold or silver. This further will give rise to global crypto currencies pegged to a commodity like gold. And countries will need to back them in the post Coronavirus world.
17. Coronavirus pandemic will impact our mindsets
This pandamic (COVID-19) will impact different generations in different ways. It’ll have the biggest impact on generation-Z (age group 4 to 24 years in 2020). Seeing their parents feel worried and helpless (and for some, jobless) for the first time will leave a lasting impression on their young minds.
They will accept social distancing and Covid-hygiene as their primary need, and their purchase decisons will be based on the same. These pandemic concepts will be become part of their subconcious. For the generation Y or millennials (age group 25 to 39 years in 2020), they will not buy the concept of social distancing and personal hygine as deeply as Gen Z. And this will define the generation gap between these two generations (Y and Z). The latter’s hygiene habits will be considered excessive by older generations like Gen X (40-54 year olds) and baby boomers (55-75 year olds).
Gen Z will become the primary consumer segment in the coming years, and will have grown up consuming products that fulfill their need for social distancing and hygiene, subconsciously always ready for the next pandemic.
The 2019 Coronavirus pandemic is going to change our lives in a far greater way than we can imagine right now. In the future, this will be the major episode we are likely to look back at nd say those were the days before Corona virus.
For millennials reading this article today in a lockdown, we should look at this as we have retired early in life. Wasn’t this the ultimate fantasy – to retire by 40? No one knows how and when we will resume our normal lives, but I would say this – it’s only up to us whether we spend our future lives living in fear of another pandemic or live fearlessly as we have in the past. And this is the exact thought that will reshape our society tomorrow.
The learnings of current generation will become the fundamentals and traditions of the next generation.
Also read: The Coronavirus & the Commoner
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Abhishek Sareen is a marketing professional with over 16 years of experience. He started his career as a management consultant and currently works in international business. He has set up businesses like Track & Trail, BrooksBicycles.com and created consumer brands like Montra, Machcity and Roadeo. He’s is a passionate cyclist and participated in several endurance competitive events like MTB Himalaya. His interests are in behavioral psychology, economics and chess. He is a graduate in Computer Science and an MBA in Marketing. He completed his executive education from IIM-A in 2016 focusing on business strategy.