The New Normal: Products and Services in post-COVID19 times

How can we recognize and adapt to innovation while keeping up with the times and with the revolution brought by the COVID-19 emergency? You can find the answers to this question and many others in the latest Doxa Futuring Lab “Special Report 2020: The New Normal”. The analysis aims at describing some of the ways in which the world is changing due to the current health emergency, but it also aims at helping companies to prepare for the upcoming future. The report focuses on four main areas: home and new features, digital boost, personal services, and social responsibility.

The changes the current health emergency is bringing due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus are impressive, and our way of doing business, just like our daily habits, have been revolutionized. Of course, this has repercussions also on how companies create and design products and services. It, therefore, becomes essential to understand new needs and new behaviors to keep up with the times and support growth in a time of deep changes.

For this reason, Doxa Futuring Lab has recently published the analysis “Special Report 2020: The New Normal”, in order to shed light on how the world is changing due to the COVID19 emergency and how to help companies to prepare for their upcoming future, despite the shared uncertainty. Doxa Futuring Lab, thanks to its know-how in market research and marketing, makes sure companies are inspired, and helps them to predict  trends and map the market in order to favor innovation and to allow partners to save time and money. The latest report focuses on four main areas: home and new features, digital boost, personal services, and social responsibility; it does not only discuss the trends in these areas, but it provides international examples of companies that are creating products and services that adapt to the current trends.

SMARTER HOMES, FOCUSED ON DESIGN – Home is increasingly more the center of people’s life. Due to the lockdown measures adopted to face the health emergency in the last months, people started re-thinking their own homes. For example, more space is needed to work remotely in a more comfortable way, technological tools need to be as effective as possible, privacy and isolated rooms are also needed, and increasingly higher attention is paid to hygiene and cleanness.

At the same time, looking for new features and solutions at home also means keeping up with new design trends and aesthetics. These post-COVID19 times strengthened Italians’ desire for products and items of clothing which are not only functional and efficient, but also nice to look at. For example, it has been observed that home clothes will be chosen based not only on comfort but on aesthetics as well. Compared to common objects, even air purifiers will be transformed from simple devices to real furnishings and design objects.

With the limitation of social contacts, it becomes increasingly more important to stay connected, also for medical-health needs. In this context of forced social distancing, there is space for new services in the field of connected health: the most recent applications range from the design of devices capable of providing remote health care, to the use of voice assistants or smartphone apps for clinical purposes.

DIGITAL IS CROSS-GENERATIONAL, BUT IT NEEDS TO INVOLVE EVERYONE – The COVID-19 emergency offered an important chance to those who offer digital solutions, which are increasingly being applied in different areas of our daily lives. Social networks are no longer used by new generations only, and platforms that were previously reserved only to remote company meetings are now used to chat with family or with friends and colleagues. In addition, considering the growth that has been detected in this market, e-commerce is becoming an opportunity for companies to seize.

At the same time, given the pervasiveness of technology in our daily lives, people are no longer thinking about the so-called “digital detox”. Young people’s fears and tensions have been forgotten and e-learning, with its current difficulties, is legitimizing the use of technology even among the youngest, who are increasingly more independent. Besides education, some brands are developing solutions to offer help to parents entertain children through speakers and vocal assistants, especially considering how overwhelming it can be to manage the whole family and house during the lockdown. Other brands are bringing younger generations closer to robotics, following the so-called “edutainment“, a logic that aims at combining education with entertainment.

However, the problem of the digital divide remains open. In Italy, in fact, not everyone has the same possibility of accessing digital tools. The most affected are the elderly and low-income families, who risk falling behind and not benefiting from what became a fundamental (digital) connection during quarantine in “phase 1” and social distancing in the current “phase 2”. Companies and institutions will, therefore, have to work so that everyone can access the online world and benefit from this new connectivity.

FOCUS ON PEOPLE – Despite the negative consequences caused by the health emergency, 2020 has offered us the opportunity to give more space to deeper values. Hobbies, personal development, and family have gained greater importance in our lives: some things can easily be replaced with online solutions, while others simply cannot be limited to virtual contacts. Therefore, there was a radical change in everyone’s habits, and some new routines started during this phase will become constant behaviors we will apply in the future to our “new normality”.

For example, there were people who used to go out for dinner very often. During quarantine, some rediscovered home cooking, while others relied on many restaurants that reinvented their menu and services. Restaurants started offering quality and innovation via home-delivered dishes, which definitely helps to keep the link with one’s own consumers alive. In the tourism sector, one of the most hit by the health crisis, the focus shifted on customers’ safety and health, two central aspects for the “re-start phase”, and what we will all worry the most probably for a long time.

COMPANIES AND COMMUNITIES: CSR IN CORONAVIRUS TIMES – In this second recovery phase, the psychological and social aspects imposed by the lockdown will continue to play a central role. Beyond our individual lives, we have discovered that we are part of something bigger and that there is a wider community that needs to be adequately safeguarded and supported.

In this context, brands have also paid particular attention to the social responsibility of their activities, providing verified information on the pandemic and involving customers to support, economically or with social activities, institutions, and organizations that are fighting the virus.

More attention should be paid to responsible, mature and conscientious behaviors. Brands that will be able to embrace a credible social role and take a position on cultural issues even after the crisis will be able to consolidate their relationship with customers.

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