There’s a lot of talk about what normal looks like these days. People refer to “the new normal” and “the next normal” as if we might wake up one day and find ourselves in a new dimension, equipped with all the knowledge and skills to navigate it. Wouldn’t that be nice? But the truth is, it’s not about new or next. It’s about now. Now is ever-changing. Now is disorienting. Now is trying. But, Now Is Normal.

We deconstructed 2020 and looked at how evolving consumer behaviors are shaping the Now, and what we’re learning from our culture’s Now values.

Fragility
The pandemic, along with civil unrest and devastating fires, have increased our collective awareness that the systems, relationships and freedoms we have counted on for years are not fail-safe. Agility, adaptability and resilience are increasingly revered in businesses and individuals alike. Brands are rising to face new challenges and helping their audiences find new forms of gratitude and connection. The fragility of – well, everything – is front and center.

Slow Movement
Weeks in lockdown forced us out of our hustle culture habits, sparked introspection and fed a yearning for less frequent, more mindful consumption. There’s a growing tension between self-care and care for others that is influencing what we choose to engage in and how we prefer to be engaged. Brands are finding new ways to embrace the ethos of the slow movement by shifting their tone from rewarding the hustle to rewarding intentionality.

OPT Culture
“Control the controllables,” they say. By upending routines and putting more control in the hands of individuals, the pandemic has the potential to extend the “bubble effect” to all aspects of life. But media, used thoughtfully, can actually pop bubbles and help us find new perspectives. From the tactical to the strategic, brands are pivoting to shape our bubbles even when we’re in the driver’s seat. This push and pull tension of consumer engagement is creating an OPT culture.

For more of a deep dive into these 2021 top trends, here’s a recent presentation by our Insights + Strategy team: