Amidst the very real external crisis of a global pandemic, we are faced with an internal dilemma as well: how to react and sustain ourselves mentally and emotionally. The ‘Great Pause’, as some have begun to call it, has left millions of us to our own devices at home—giving us plenty of time for introspection. A popular way of coping is to focus on personal growth and self-care. This is a fundamentally hopeful pursuit, whereby people aim to emerge from this trying time positively transformed in some way, without losing sight of self-compassion in the process. Life on the usual treadmill leaves us very little time to audit our lives and assess our priorities. Many people are now capitalising on this space to do so in meaningful ways.
Even prior to Coronavirus, ‘’Burnout’’, a state of chronic stress that causes exhaustion and detachment, was becoming a more prominent topic for discussion. How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation, Anne Helen Petersen’s virally-shared article for Buzzfeed, struck a significant chord last year. Life and career coaches have evolved to be ‘burnout coaches.’ Professional sabbaticals have become more popular. Often people turned to branches of the wellness economy to mitigate burnout, seeking out travel and retreats for self-discovery and restoration. The global market size of ‘wellness tourism’ was originally projected to reach $919 billion by 2022. Now we are looking for ways to bring this sentiment indoors. Meditation apps such as Calm and Headspace have seen major rises in downloads over the last couple months as people strive to build resilience through a daily mindfulness routine. Some have opted for ‘gratitude journals’ or ‘happiness jars.’ Others have turned to online yoga and fitness classes—many offering ‘30-day challenges’ or tools for students to establish a regular practice.
Yale University’s online class, The Science of Wellbeing, has received record levels of attention since the lockdown. As of late March, enrollment had shot up 265% with 1.3 million people enrolled. Today, it has over 2.3 million. While bookstores remain closed, book sales are up as people look to expand their horizons and their reading list. Language learning app, Duolingo, has also reported a 108% global rise in new users over the month of March, as people use their free time to develop new skills. Natural beauty is having a moment too as many set the hair straighteners aside and lean into greying hair in the spirt of self-acceptance. Other beauty devotees are putting in the effort to research and hone their skincare routine, tuning into iconic beauty educators such as Jennifer Rock of The Skin Nerd or Sali Hughes of The Guardian.
It is important for brands to understand that your target consumer isn’t necessarily in hibernation during this time. There is a good chance they are in a process of transformation. Successful brands will know their consumers beyond a static persona, consider the journey they are on, and speak to those goals.