The global pandemic has created a world where the days and weeks blur together. Though the world is starting to open back up, the goals we set out to achieve in January feel out of sync with where we are today, whether it be buying a house or getting a promotion. One of our most fundamental needs – to feel a sense of growth, progress, achievement or purpose — no longer has a definitive end point.
“We are literally, ‘stuck’ but in order for me to feel healthy, I cannot also ‘metaphorically’ be stuck.
– Female, 39
Enter the home entertainment category. Not only are companies in this space helping us relieve our boredom, they’re fueling our continued desire for progress in new ways. From watching a seedling grow, to cultivating a garden in Animal Crossing, to reevaluating career paths, people are achieving a sense of progress in new ways as well as reflecting on their relationship with progress altogether.
Through hundreds of stories The Sound collected from people living in lockdown, we set off to illuminate what progress looks like today, what’s inspiring us to choose new solutions, and what that means for life post-pandemic.
By understanding these shifts, brands will be able to build strategies to ensure they stay relevant and can continue to grow.
An increased desire for progress coupled with a lack of clear destination has resulted in new behaviors
More than just a reaction to life on hold, people’s desire for progress has emerged as a way to cope with a number of new realities:
Some new behaviors are purely situational and may not outlast the pandemic…
More time means feeling pressure to make the most of it
For some of us, social distancing, lack of commute, and reduced work hours have led to a significant increase in spare time. The result: a feeling of boredom and restlessness. Rather than entertaining ourselves as a way to decompress from busy schedules, many are using this time to focus on passions, such as writing or painting, and/or are opting for more mentally stimulating forms of entertainment, e.g. educational podcasts, online courses, documentaries, and non-fiction reading vs their usual go-tos.
I started feeling bored and kind of gross just doing lowkey nights at home watching TV… I’ve been reading more, listening to audiobooks and interesting podcasts.
– Female, 23
Economic instability means leveling up professionally
People are anxious about their future plans, particularly around job stability. To prepare for unknown circumstances, we are enrolling in professional development classes, attending virtual industry conferences, diversifying skill sets, turning a hobby into a side gigs, etc. Growing professionally gives us more confidence to weather the storm.
I want to future proof my career.
– Male, 50
Stagnation means relying on activities that create a sense of forward momentum
Many of the ways in which we typically achieve progress have come to a halt, and as a result, we can feel stuck and unmotivated. In response, we are looking for ways to achieve a sense of forward momentum in our daily lives. Activities in general that convey a sense of time passing are grounding, e.g. the daily growth of a sourdough starter, building a muscle, leveling up on a language app. Creating a physical artifact, such as a plant or craft, can be especially satisfying by providing a tangible sense of accomplishment.
With something like running, I see myself incrementally improving, which helps to see time passing too.
– Female, 37
Some behaviors are more deeply emotional and may speak to a value shift that endures beyond the pandemic….
Feeling overwhelmed leads to desire for small victories that require little mental energy
The intensity of our desire to grow and the scale of progress we need during this time ebbs and flows on a day to day basis, depending on what we are emotionally capable of. Sometimes, we wake up feeling extremely motivated to power through a challenging online class, while other times, achieving a goal in a relaxing video game feels good enough (my Sim reaching the top of her career track was a personal highlight).
While people have always been overwhelmed, this extreme circumstance has led to the discovery of new coping mechanisms that they hadn’t considered and may carry forward beyond the pandemic. For instance, many people are entering gaming for the first time to play games like Animal Crossing, and the satisfaction of checking off tasks (fishing, fruit-picking, etc.) helps offset anxiety around the state of the world — a strategy they might return back to the next time they feel this way.
Been feeling spurts of motivation followed by an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion.
Forced pause and reset leads to a reevaluation of our purpose
Due to layoffs and furloughs, some have been forced to step off their career ladder, perhaps a ladder they had been climbing for years with an all-consuming focus. Now, we suddenly have the time and brain space to reevaluate our purpose and identity and are redefining what type of progress is truly meaningful, such as pursuing a different career path or spending more time helping our kids learn.
Likewise, many are learning the value of pausing and reflecting – and realizing they don’t need to define progress as a high-speed bullet train to somewhere. People are considering leaving the city, leading a simpler life…and no longer conforming to traditional metrics for success. They are re-evaluating what kind of progress really matters, gaining satisfaction from the small stuff, and placing less importance on ‘progressing’ in general…being present is enough.
I’ve been making more time for meditation and thinking about what I want from life.
– Female, 32
What brands need to consider as the world opens up
While some behavioral changes are situational, some are a result of deeper values coming to light. When it comes to progress, people are beginning to re-evaluate their goals and celebrating smaller victories, in their lives overall as well as in at-home entertainment.
Likewise, experts predict that we will be in an economic recession for quite some time. These “slow” forms of progress and smaller victories will be essential for everyone, especially for the next generation, coming of age at a time when pressure is high and opportunities are scarce.
If home entertainment brands want to last for the long term, anchoring to these deeper motivations can help them maintain a longer shelf life, beyond the quick fixes people are all seeking.
To win during the “big pause,” brands need to ask themselves, is what I’m offering delivering against a temporary solve or a deeper value shift?
Want to learn more about progress and what it means for your brand? Give us a shout!
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