As society unlocks further after months of restrictions, we’re beginning to see a clearer path to the return of pre-pandemic life. What have we missed during the pandemic exactly, and what do we want to remain a part of our lives?
A new study from Oracle of over 3,200 consumers in the UK, US, and Australia found this differs considerably between geographies, genders and ages often in surprising ways.
For those in the UK, reconnecting with people is most important, after months spent in lockdown. More than anything, Brits have missed hugging family and friends – with 78% missing the human touch. Gen Z missed hugging the most of any UK age group – only 7% saying they didn’t miss it at all.
Nor can Brits wait for the chance to reconnect with loved ones and friends with leisurely experiences – away from the unpredictability of British weather. 29% of Brits intend to choose indoor dining as their first activity when it reopens next week, with travelling abroad second (19%), and indoor clubs and bars a close third (18%). The US is similarly most excited about indoor dining (26%), while Australians put staycations first, with 26% choosing travelling out of state.
The research also suggests consumers are getting considerably more comfortable with the idea of gathering in larger groups again. In the UK, 40% and 58% respectively are planning to enjoy live sporting events and concerts and festivals. Men are more than six times as likely as women to rank live sports as their top choice.
While Brits in particular are craving human connection, they will also miss the convenience, ease and calm of being able to access things from the click of a button. Top of the list of things which haven’t been missed was commuting (44%), followed by business travel (30%) – suggesting those in the UK won’t be rushing back to the pre-pandemic world of work. In fact, many digital experiences are here to stay. 69% of Brits said they’ve used contactless or cashless payments more in the last year and will likely continue to use them as well as delivery services, which 60% of Brits favoured. Virtual doctors’ appointments were also favoured by 29% of Brits.
These findings reiterate the importance of paying close attention to how consumers behave, and how they experience and react to brands. “Last year, our lives were impacted in ways we couldn’t control, and therefore our behaviour changed, making it harder for brands to keep up with evolving consumer habits and connect with customers,” said Yorick Astier, vice president, customer experience UK, Benelux and Netherlands. “These experiences will continue to have massive implications on our consumption and buying behaviour as we move forward in a post-pandemic era.”