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. 

Every month, we’re looking at behaviors shaping the Now, and what they tell us about our culture’s Now values.  

Best Served Cold
U.S. restaurants are moving warily into fall, hoping their slow recovery persists despite the new challenge of chilly weather and a pandemic that’s expected to claim even more lives. What’s the social buzz? Consumers are sharing facts, stats and fears about dining in the winter.

Academic Atrophy
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released its first look at fall enrollment through Sept. 10, confirming what many in higher education already suspected: that the public health crisis would lower head counts at the nation’s colleges and universities. What’s the social buzz? Despite the initial struggles and frustrations, we’ve seen heartwarming resilience online from teachers, students and parents alike. Teachers are sharing their excitement for meeting their students and parents are sharing their appreciation for teachers and schools.

Pop The Bubbly
Winter is coming. Start building your COVID-19 bubble now and get ready to socialize in the cold. What’s the social buzz? Most of the conversation about COVID-19 bubbles still centers around sports – NBA, NHL and MLB. But some are sharing about their personal bubbles and the precautions they are taking to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

It’s fair to say that uncertainty and ambiguity will still very much be present this fall. But, there are a few governing principles that are unfolding and guiding smart, relevant and topical engagement:

  • Community – More than ever, customers are looking to brands as guiding forces and taking note of how they’re reacting in a time of crisis. As companies look to deliver impactful customer experiences and services, those who prioritize community, whether at a micro or macro level, will see the long-term benefit of brand affinity.
  • Value – Added value is now the expectation. As daily norms continue to be upended, brands are increasingly stepping up and providing the tools and services to improve consumers’ new realities and day-to-day lives.
  • Empathy – Understanding the human experience affecting customers today, the brands providing impactful forms of relief or aide are cultivating meaningful relationships. Placing human needs and well-being before profit, employee-centered initiatives rank equally among consumers’ top expectations when it comes to safety and empathy.

Find more COVID-19 and fall communications analysis from Padilla’s Insights + Strategy and Digital + Social team here: