The Age of Unfluence

            So, what have you fallen out of love with during the pandemic? Shopping? Movie theaters? The Media? Fast Food? It feels like this is a typical conversation starter now, talking to others about what they do and don’t miss since the pandemic started. Where most years people acquire new interests, passion points, and indulgences, 2020 has been the opposite for many. People have spent the year dropping routines, embracing adaptability, and revoking the influence brands, experiences, and traditions have over us.

           The biggest question then, is what is the new sphere of influence after the pandemic? As we see things such as the fashion and entertainment industry having to revamp their approach to market to maintain consumer relevance, you have to wonder how long after the pandemic is over the new age of consumer adaptation will continue. Will brands and consumers swing back to a state of normalcy, or will we maintain our new distanced view of the world as we knew it?

           What is interesting to think about is the notion of “normal” as an influencer. After a year of drastic changes and alterations to routines, a return to normal is going to surge in popularity. We won’t be chasing the next best thing or trying to one-up our aesthetics, we’re just going to be happy to be out of the house. So, the question then is will we see a reversal of the new campaign styles that the pandemic has brought into our lives. The focus on safety, security, and togetherness—will it be replaced with a joyous roar of mediocrity, simply because we’ve been without it for so long?

           Mediocre moments, such as going out to dinner, shopping in a physical store, or attending parties—will these become the new messaging focal points where brands will craft their stories? And more importantly—will the consumer be influenced by a sudden surge of normalcy? We’re still not sure on the lasting impact of behaviors developing within the pandemic, but it has at least proven itself to be thought-provoking when it comes to how people behave in different scenarios.

           Everyone is still in adaptation mode, focusing on getting through the immediate future, with less focus on a plan for tomorrow. Brands, too, are in this position, as the pandemic has leveled the playing field, and both product and target back at square one. However, as we begin to think about the other side of that, will we welcome our return to mediocrity and the return of branded influence? Or have we become too rooted in a much more personal connection to how we engage with daily life to think about the way things were?

           The next age of influence could be one of hope, simplicity, and embracing day-to-day life, beyond the shadow of COVID-19. While we still have the winter to get through, and an unknown timeline, the rise of a new set of personal values is emerging. This includes a focus on smaller things and the ability to do tasks we take for granted without reference to the pandemic. Everything we’ve taken for granted, becoming influential because at the moment we cannot have it.