The rise of enochlophobia and what this trend means for your brand

From shopping and self-care to media consumption and entertainment, the current pandemic touches upon every aspect of consumers’ lives and is likely to leave a permanent mark on our habits and behavior. The changes in what consumers think, feel and do is something we also witnessed up close in our own global qualitative COVID-19 consumer community. From the early lockdown period to today, we deeply engaged with 102 consumers from 13 countries to get an understanding of (the changes in) their everyday lives. Some of these insights were presented in our Consumers Unmasked webinar, one of them being the rise of ‘enochlophobic crowds’, or in other words: crowds afraid of crowds.

While social distancing measures felt odd at first, consumers have embraced this different way of life to the extent that a ‘6-foot distance society’ is becoming the new normal for the coming months.

“I think we will be very careful about getting too close to people for some time. We will probably think twice before we hug and kiss each other as before.”

South-African community participant, 56+

Even in a post-lockdown situation, consumers (will) intend to avoid crowded public places, or at least limit their time spent there, for fear of contamination. This anxiety among crowds will have a major impact, since going to the cinema, an amusement park, or even just shopping will no longer be a relaxing event. Nevertheless, people are craving leaving their house, and they expect brands to offer relevant solutions to be ‘out and about’ safely.

Music festival organizers in Denmark and Lithuania recognized this consumer friction – and came up with a new way to experience live music: the drive-in concert. Similar to old-school drive-in cinemas, people can enjoy live performances from the safety of their car, where ’show me your hands’, is being replaced by ’now move those windscreen wipers’.

Mediamatic, a Dutch art center that also hosts a restaurant, thought about new ways to offer a safe dining experience. Inspired by the French concept of ‘Chambre Séparée’, they developed ‘quarantine greenhouses’ that combine contamination precautions with a unique experience of intimate dining.

A fresh perspective and out-of-the box ideas clearly are key to survive and thrive in a world where ‘enochlophobic crowds’ are the new normal. To explore this solution space, we launched a creative crowdsourcing competition on our eÿeka creative network, to get inspiration on how brands can help consumers overcome their fear of stepping outside. Within 12 days of the creative contest launch, the eÿeka network generated 142 ideas from 77 participants in 35 countries, spanning industries from FMCG to financial services.

So, what is your brand plan for the post-lockdown reality? Is your brand ready to engage with crowds that are afraid of crowds?

Tune in and hear from Joeri Van den Bergh (Future Consumer Expert & Co-founder InSites Consulting) and Sarah Van Oerle (our COVID-19 Community Manager) what consumers envision as their new reality. Consumers Unmasked: Insights into an evolving COVID-19 reality!

Interested in tapping into your own Consumers Unmasked community? Check out our dedicated COVID-19 online community approach and get in touch!

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