Making the Difference in a Crisis

Yes, another blog about Coronavirus. But read on.

Change is happening, and behaviours are adjusting.

Work patterns are adjusting. I have seen some people comment they are communicating more effectively with colleagues since home working than they did when metres away in the office.

Social patterns are adjusting. Personally, I have had two (40-min Zoom restricted) visits to the virtual pub in the space of a week. Joe Wicks is bringing broadband to its knees every midweek morning at 9am as millions of us get our 30-minute in-home PE fix.

But behind every behaviour is a need, motivation or attitude, and it is the attitudes, in particular, that we expect are having the biggest shake up as a result of “all of this”.

Here’s hoping social attitudes, in particular, take a change for the better as a result of this crisis. Here’s to more compassion, understanding and respect. We expect it will be the brands that have demonstrated these values that will emerge stronger. The evidence of this will follow in due course in the brand trackers and ultimately the sales figures!

How we miss the things we took for granted.

Drinking Sangria in the park, feeding animals in the zoo, then later a movie, too, and then home.

Whatever your definition of a perfect day – the mountains, the café, the football, a visit to see family, a weekend away, a gym session, a browse round the shops, a pub crawl – we are all now more immediately appreciate of, and valuing of, the things we previously took for granted.

As well as this, we have finally stopped to consider, appreciate and value the people that made our perfect days possible.

How we appreciate the people we took for granted.

A couple of weeks ago when the schools closed, a debate ensued on how we define a “key worker”.

Without attempting a definitive list, when lives are being turned upside down by the pandemic, it becomes suddenly clearer who we rely on – in the foreground and the background – to keep the wheels of society turning and our citizens safe. The heroes in the NHS and the whole of the care sector, the grocery store employees, the delivery drivers, the utilities, the list goes on. If, like me, you were surprised by the length of the government’s “key worker” list then, like me, you were probably (unintentionally) taking people for granted.

Market researchers were not on the key-worker list.

Understandably so, I am not considered a key worker. I am now home-schooling whilst home-working. But that’s not to say Mustard, our fellow market researchers and insight professionals, insight managers, marketers, brand / category managers, consultants, etc. are not performing “key work”.

Over the years, Mustard has delivered research and consultation that has contributed towards increased bowel cancer screening rates, initiatives to reduce smoking, programmes to improve housing – as well as projects that have improved football boots, theme park experiences, insurance policy documentation and hairbrushes (do not underestimate the value of shaving minutes off morning haircare routines around the world).

Still Making the Difference

Making the difference has been Mustard’s raison d’être for almost a decade. Our job is interesting, rewarding and sometimes fun. Critically it has PURPOSE, which in most instances is linked to change and improvement – be that products, services or communications. These changes and improvements make a difference to our client’s organisations and the lives of their customers and service users.

Our industry remains as “key” and as relevant as ever before. Not only during, but also after “all of this” is over. Information and insight will be as powerful and as critical as it ever was, as different businesses plot their routes to recovery and strategies for adjusting to the attitudinal and behavioural changes.

And everyone else, keep on making the difference

For our clients in financial services and the care sectors who kindly emailed me this week, who have been pulled away from BAU activities and are supporting front-line operations, recruitment drives, etc. – thank you, you are making the difference.

For anyone furloughed, keep on staying home, protecting the NHS, saving lives, talking with people. It is making a difference.

Most of all, the key workers, the extraordinary volunteers, keep on making the (massive) difference.