Hot Topics: Q3 2020

If you’ve listened to any news update in the last month or two, there are basically three topics: pandemic, politics, and religion.

The first one is expected, as we are in the midst of something that evokes words such as “unprecedented” and “novel.” The second goes with the territory—with a presidential election just months away, and the mud-slinging that accompanies it every time. The third, though, is a bit of a head-turner.

Religion has always been a tricky subject for mainstream media. Not all news sources these days, however, are mainstream. Serious inroads have been made by both social media and new media that have taken a corner or two off the market block. Many of them have ventured into coverage of religion in new ways, bringing on commentators from various denominations, opening up about personal beliefs, and covering church news—even if it’s just to criticize churches for opening back up before the pandemic is over.

As we looked at our list of hot topics for Q3, religion popped up fairly prominently. Keep in mind that we have proprietary software that measures the shifts in behavior—we aren’t just making anecdotal determinations. Our analysis is that the pandemic has prompted new attention to faith and faith-based organizations, many of whom are trying to address everything from food giveaways to mental health counseling.

So, what else is popping up high on the list? Here are a few more areas where change is high:

Hospitality. Restaurants, hotels, Airbnb’s, even staying with family has undergone major shifts in behavior and attitudes. To adjust, hotels are offering WFH (work from home) packages that allow you to rent a room to get away from your home. Restaurants are continuing to update their apps, delivery processes, and outdoor seating.

Travel. It’s obvious, but we still have to point it out. Europe is off the list, at least for now. Cruises are offering huge discounts to try and attract people to take a chance. Cancellation policies have most certainly changed—just ask the airlines. If it’s not within 100 miles, some businesses have even asked their employees to get permission before personal travel.

Entertainment. It’s hard to interest anyone (even the majority of college students, who aren’t going to risk expulsion) in large venues with packed crowds. Outdoor events are the only thing with a little momentum, and even those are changing—just ask my community, which just announced its usual holiday turkey trot as a virtual fundraising event.

There are big changes coming in building, office and home design, in education, in both physical and mental health, and in how we spend our entertainment dollars. After years of technology being a step or two ahead of most American’s needs—where they offered something before we knew we wanted it—now we have people pushing for tech adjustments and innovation.

The world has shifted, and Q3-2020 is one of the largest indicators we’ve seen of that in 15 years of gathering and analyzing consumer behavior data. When the pandemic started, we offered hope of revolutionary innovation coming out of the rubble. We still think it’s coming.

And that, folks, is where faith pops back in. We’re praying, hoping, keeping our fingers crossed, and doing everything we can to will innovation into place. It’s the only thing that will, someday, give us healthy perspective on the pandemic and what we learned from it.

So, what are you still doing here? Go innovate!