Lockdown united the nation, but as we emerge, underlying concerns faced by audiences are diverging once more. These play out differently by generation: baby boomers face short-term unhappiness driven by fear of the virus, whereas Generation Z face an uphill uncertainty over their future. Brands should adapt their comms to address these differing anxieties.

Touchpoints’ data from earlier this year showed an increasing divide between the media habits of Baby Boomers and Generation Z.  But then COVID-19 arrived, along with a swathe of lockdown restrictions. The result? The nation was united by Zoom calls, Thursday nights clapping and daily government TV briefings.

Differences in lifestyles were smoothed over as younger audiences, usually out and about, were homebound. They rediscovered the joys of in-home experiences such as live TV and took up new hobbies to pass time, like baking and crafts (1). Meanwhile, older audience adopted new digital behaviours to keep connected with the outside world.  Over half of 55+ used video calling to stay in touch with family and trialled online shopping (1). This gave brands an opportunity to reach both generations in new places.

But as we come out of lockdown, it’s important to acknowledge the differences re-emerging in these audiences – while there may now be more similarities in media consumption than pre-lockdown, their concerns and challenges post-lockdown differ significantly.

On the face of it, Generation Z seem able to bounce back from the disruption of quarantine. They have more spontaneous lives and so are more responsive to changing advice: over a third are already comfortable returning to pubs (2).  However, this short-term confidence disguises the longer-term uncertainty they face. They are now more likely to suffer unemployment and financial concerns, added to their existing worries for the future of the planet more broadly. This makes them more susceptible to two different levers: value and brand values. This means showing why a brand is worth share of their wallet by demonstrating what it stands for in the current cultural context.

By contrast, Baby Boomers, who profited from booming property prices, are less concerned about finances. Despite this security, almost half report feeling less happy than this time last year (1), and 80% are worried about a second wave (2). For them, the worry is not financial health, it is personal health. Their need for short term reassurance means brands should use trusted comms channels and create customer experiences that address these concerns.

Are there new audiences or new advantages that brands can speak to by solving the issues faced today? Likely yes. But first, just as audiences have adapted to the changing world, brands must challenge their pre-lockdown beliefs.


1 the7stars QT

2 YouGov “Returning to the Pubs” https://yougov.co.uk/topics/food/articles-reports/2020/07/24/how-do-brits-feel-about-reopened-pubs