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.  

Merry and Blight

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified big holiday gatherings as high-risk activities and families are weighing their options and risks through a pandemic lens. In fact, 70% of Americans expect this winter to be their “most challenging ever.” And two-thirds believe the coronavirus pandemic will ruin their holidays. 31% of Americans said they would skip the entire holiday season if they could and 51% say they plan to gather with extended family, despite the pandemic.

Overall, everyone is confused and trying to make the best decisions in a future of ambiguity that is everchanging.

Travel Unravel

68% of Americans say they’ll be traveling less than usual for the holidays, with most people reporting they aren’t planning to travel for or around Thanksgiving (75%) or any winter holidays (72%).

As Covid-19 cases continue to rise globally, there is growing concern of spreading the virus via travel – especially as the holiday season is looming. As a result, each country is determining what that looks like and how to put criteria around a travel quarantine list.

Mindful gift-giving

Consumers’  focus on the holidays will be less about traveling and more about gift-giving. Twitter users are excited about holiday shopping and conversation is overwhelmingly positive, despite coronavirus. There is also a call to action on social media to buy from independent retailers in efforts to help these small businesses survive the pandemic.

It’s fair to say that as we enter the holidays, uncertainty and ambiguity is challenging what normally is a period of planning. But here are some guiding principles for tackling the holidays during COVID:

  • Comfort – People are trying to find comfort in the things they can control. While it’s projected to be a difficult quarter for online retailers, people took to social media to share their excitement about purchasing holiday gifts. The idea around this being that even if we can’t see our families for the holidays, we can still give them gifts and that provides comfort.
  • Fluid – From travel to spending and everything in between, there is going to be a lot of charged emotions this season as more disruption sets in. Staying nimble and reactive is never a bad idea but it’s a necessary part of a plan and strategy for the near term.
  • Family – For many, the past summer highlighted how important family and friends (and general human contact) are for sanity. Be careful not to capitalize on this need state of belongingness but also know this will be a massive pain point for many this season – how can you help people through it?

Find more COVID-19 and Hol-NO-days communications analysis from Padilla’s Insights + Strategy and Digital + Social team here:

For questions, guidance or support with your brand’s communication efforts, Padilla’s COVID-19 Response Team is here to help.