Like everyone else, we’re locked down at home (day 5 at time of writing) and like everyone else we’re video conferencing with clients and colleagues (and getting plenty of insight to how people live – one person already had a white board up in their home office); staying in touch with relatives and friends in our new WhatsApp groups and watching everything – that’s everything – on Sky Q, Netflix, Amazon Prime and iPlayer. Never in history has a locked down population been so well resourced.
The problem with the new normal is it’s not normal
But I’m curious. How will all of this work in the so called ‘new normal’?
For every journalist writing on this subject i.e. nearly all of them, there are many more people experiencing job insecurity. Many people are already out of a job. The problem with the new normal is it’s not normal yet and as things take shape in coming err… weeks… months? our worldview will be different.
The ongoing cycle of coffee, box sets, music, razors, beauty, fashion, news, household chores, food delivery, dog walking, dog sitting, doggy daycare etc etc – all paid for by monthly subscription – feels like it may be in for some disruption.
Having grown accustomed to the little and often costs associated with all these services, it’s easy to forget what they amount to monthly. Add some of it up: Beauty Pie £10; Amazon Prime £7.99; Netflix £7.99; Spotify £9.99; Sky Q £25; Harry’s £3.99; Pact Coffee £6.95 = £78.86
Like those old gym memberships, they sit in the background. Salary covers it and life goes on.
But as the new normal emerges, there are plenty of people for whom that sort of money is going to be needed for some actual essentials – “but I can’t live without Spotify” well, this is the problem with the new unknown normal, is that maybe I actually can live without it.
How will the impact of this period of change affect those businesses built on debt? With a long (and often infinite) journey to profit, offering ephemeral services, this is discretionary spend in many cases. Will there be enough little and often consumers prepared or able to keep up with the monthly payments?
What do we really need?
Times of conflict (and this is one of them) usually trigger greater and more rapid innovation.
And maybe this is the moment when the platform model – which has demonstrated incredible agility and efficiencies - will be able to serve more people with services that can make a proper difference?
Hard to imagine right now, but maybe enforced home schooling will mark the beginning of a new era for education. The arts. Healthcare.
Whatever the new normal turns out to be, it feels like this is a moment to re-evaluate. What we can and can’t afford (Mercedes A-Class is the most popular leased – that’s rented – car); what’s really important. What do we really need?
I dug out a box of CDs. Awesome.