COVID Conversations week #6 report

7 May 2020


This week, we explore the fall out of isolation on our wellbeing and the newly formed habits of Kiwis in level 3 lockdown

Since late March, we have been conducting weekly surveys with thousands of New Zealanders, exploring different themes each week and understanding where we are at as a nation, and how our mindset is changing on the way we see ourselves and the world we live in…

Weeks 1-6: a snapshot of our lives

Last week

The first taste of 'ordinary life' returning? Kiwis started craving fast food as we began to consider what our 'new normal' would look like

Our key findings were:

1. We are still feeling luckier than ever to live in NZ, and we have a newly found appreciation of those closest to us as the lock down is allowing us to spend what is normally in short supply – TIME! This is also creating a fresh appreciation for stepping back, slowing down and appreciating the little and simple things in life

2. We haven’t lost our desire to explore and are starting to turn our eyes to domestic travel. And with a ‘new normal’ weighing down on Kiwi’s, even our domestic travel may change. We now have a different priority of needs when considering a destination, focusing more on hygiene, cost and no crowds

3. Coming out of lockdown our craving for fast food surpasses our plans to visit friends and family. The extraordinary times we are experiencing is giving us a newly found appreciation for the ordinary and the familiar

Click here to see our Week 5 report

This week

We aimed to understand the changes to the well being and newly formed habits of NZers.

Our three key findings were:

1. Our concern about COVID-19 has reduced alongside the alert level, but our concern is shifting from us as individuals, to our lives, our country and the world we live in, which is far more reaching than even our concerns for our jobs and future travel opportunities.

2. The COVID-19 crisis has negatively impacted every aspect of our perceived wellbeing, with our financial wellbeing taking a hit. NZ consumers will be feeling this pain going forward and will be cautious with spending, whilst trying to heal their overall wellbeing by connecting with people when they can and continuing on their path of physical wellbeing.

3. We are forming new habits and a new normal is potentially coming into focus – ones that may have implications for sustainability and our overall health. And underneath it all, NZers are hopeful for some of the positives of lockdown life to come through. Brands need to quickly find their valuable role in this new normal.

What did our fellow Kiwis tell us?

We are are happy with our new habits and while concerns about COVID-19 are decreasing, we are shifting these concerns to something way, way wider

Our concern about COVID-19 has reduced over the past weeks, from percentages of concerned NZers in the high eighties, to 70% now. Our concern is following the reduction of the alert levels; as the alert level drops so does our concern. NZ’s alert levels are a guideline for how concerned we should be – at alert level 4 we were alarmed and concerned about the impact the pandemic would have on our families but also our country and the world. The reduction in alert level signaled to NZers that the threat was reducing – and therefore our concern could follow suit. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have other concerns that are increasingly weighing up on us.

Even with new freedom and successful virus mitigation, we’re still very worried about the future. Despite a shift to level three and a string of low COVID cases and our collective success in controlling the initial impact of COVID, it’s clear that Kiwi’s are still highly concerned about the impacts of the crisis on their families, the nation and the world. We’ve accepted the impact of COVID on our social lives, travel aspirations and children’s schooling but in uncertain times are looking to understand the long-term impacts. Previous reports have shown that we are looking to adopt a more cautious approach to spending and planning, and this is likely to continue for as long Kiwis feel uncertain about the future. 

It seems that the impact of our response to the virus overshadows fear of the disease itself. So, NZers will continue to fear the unknown and be in a state of caution and preparedness for a while; saving for the future, limiting big spends, avoiding large crowds. Now is the time for businesses to help mitigate these fears, showing genuine care and understanding, whilst acknowledging the state of caution consumers will now be in.

And different aspects of our wellbeing are suffering - our positivity is dropping

As our previous weeks have shown, we, as a nation, have been getting outside more and cashing in on the positives that spare time is able to bring. But this does little to compensate for the other areas of our lives where the stress and worry for our families – and the financial fallout of a crisis – have had an impact on our overall wellbeing, with our feelings of positivity towards our well-being taking a dive. The small, in the moment benefits and tastes of ordinary life don’t assuage the looming anxieties – something to keep an eye on going forward.

Our sense of normality – and of time – has been turned on its head, and our one freedom and escape has been exercise outside (and no takeaways available), so our physical wellbeing has become core to our overall wellbeing. Our social and mental/emotional well-being has been fed by the ability to connect online with others keeping our social and emotional connections alive, with 53% of us having been connecting more with people via online video chat than they did in person prior to the lock down. Despite not being physically able to catch up with people, we have caught up from a distance, but it's the physical face to face connection we miss. 

While it’s our sense of financial wellbeing that has taken the greatest hit, the impact of COVID-19 on our total sense of well-being has been profound, and arguably we are at the beginning of the process. We face an uncertain level of future restrictions across aspects of life we took for granted; freedom, ability to socialise, touch, travel, connect and freedom to spend on things we value. There may be some positive shifts among the negative. While many may be without jobs, financial security and feeling uncertain, this is likely to prompt new ways of behaving; a new frugality and re-prioritisation. So our perceptions of the things that are important to our physical and emotional health may shift; time together, home, work life balance, sustainability, and anti-materialism...this is something to keep a close eye on as the story evolves. Brands need to find a way to play a new role in the authentic wellbeing of NZers.

Our new habits and new normal is potentially coming into focus - ones that may have implications for sustainability and our overall health

We believe this gives insight into what will form part of our new normal:

Local & Back to Basics. 

We are valuing and appreciating more the things that we already have and for new things, we are trying to buy local. We are enjoying our homes and getting back to basics, saving money rather than spending. We are getting back to the good old days and this may see us become more sustainably minded, realising that many things are reusable rather than just replaceable and that we can do without many non-essential things. 

Creating balance. 

Taking the TIME to do things we enjoy – cook, bake, care for our homes, spend time with family. This has positive implications for many aspects of our wellbeing as we find more of a balance between work and life. 

Re-establishing some normal.

There also remains some hesitancy to continue working remotely – an eagerness to get back to work. Although technology is available, a lack of experience – and having it suddenly become a necessity – is uncomfortable to many. And the desire for some degree of normalcy – e.g. going to work – remains.

Adapting to new technology.

While our behaviours feel traditional, our adoption of tech has surged. Technology is making it possible to physically distance ourselves from others, whilst continuing with work, life, and social connections. However, we are not feeling quite so comfortable yet with the new ways of shopping that were thrust upon us quite quickly – contactless, click and collect, online shopping. Despite becoming a new norm, online purchasing and click and collect/ delivery is an uncomfortable, unfamiliar unknown to many – with under half feeling they now have a better understanding and feeling more comfortable with the technology. Living digitally is still quite scary journey of learning for many. 

And a new normal is not necessarily a bad thing

NZers think post-COVID life will be different – and underneath it all they are hopeful for some of the positives of lockdown life to come through. On the surface it seems people are quite pessimistic about the future – unemployment, financial hardship, disconnection, cultural difficulties with social distancing. Greater hygiene and social awareness was also predicted but not seen to be a negative thing, with working from home also seen to be more acceptable. But there is an underlying hope that ‘the basics’ will be brought forward and combined with our new and digital lives – innovation and entrepreneurship, more environmental awareness, giving ourselves more time to do what we want, appreciation for the simple things and work/life balance. Brands need to quickly find their valuable role in this new normal.

There is also a spark of awareness growing for those businesses who genuinely care about their customers – essential services like Countdown, New World, Pak’nSave (and local businesses) are seen to be genuine in their care and concern for customer safety – those actively putting visible safety measures in place whilst supplying things essential to our lives and who have shown they are here for us.

Next week, we'll be talking about...

  • What precautions are we planning on taking for Level 2?
  • Where will our priorities lie as we gain more freedom? 
  • What will make us more comfortable: taking public transport, shopping, travelling, working…? 
  • What is the future of retail, restaurants and entertainment – is going out now an experience we are willing to pay for and at what cost?

We’d love to hear your questions. Be part of the One Picture COVID Conversation.
Please email them to Questions are posted every Friday, with findings available EOB Wednesday. We look forward to you being part of it.

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Tags: Travel & tourism, Remote working, Wellbeing, COVID19, Lockdown, Insights