DOWNTIME IN A TIME OF COVID-19

DOWNTIME IN A TIME OF COVID-19

The Coronavirus lockdown has plunged the UK into uncharted territory and forced the British to get creative, adapt, and try to maintain a certain level of normality in life.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, plenty has been written about the impact this would ultimately have on people’s mental and financial wellbeing.

However, little has been said about their downtime.

When even so basic human needs like socialising are off the table, what do people do in their free time? What are we doing to have a good time in this age of restriction?

Late 2019, we interviewed over 2,000 people from across Britain to understand how they are spending their downtime.

Interestingly, two insights from that research as well as the macro-trends we drew from them are very relevant today.

The first one, which we call A Cocooned Generation, shows that desire for more intimate experiences is widespread in the country, and is leading more and more people to choose to stay in. This is particularly true amongst 18-34 years old – amongst them, 61% are claiming to prefer to switch off and relax by ‘Staying at home’. (Source: Missouri Creative)

The other relevant macro-trend, named JOMO is the new FOMO, describes how our most connected generation yet is also the keenest to disconnect. In fact, 42% of 18-34s in Britain spend the majority of their downtime alone – this makes them the most isolated age group in the entire country. (Source: Missouri Creative)

However, we understand that staying in is no longer a matter of choice. So, we decided to share with you some relevant findings from our research, which may shed some light onto the way your consumers are spending their free time at home.

We asked people from England, Wales and Scotland to tell us how often they have chosen to ‘stay in’ on a weekend night to do one of the following activities: streaming or watching video / TV; playing video games; and hosting friends and family.

Below, you will find 3 key insights from our research.

1) SCOTS ARE THE BIGGEST IN STREAMING

According to The Independent, 78% of Millennials in the UK actively engage in JOMO at the expense of socialising with friends, whilst 1 in 5 of them say subscription services are leading them to enjoy greater levels of JOMO.

However, this rate is highest in Scotland, where 82% of 18-34s have stayed in on a weekend to stream video or watch TV over one month. Across all age groups, that figure is 78% – higher than the Britain-wide average. (Source: Missouri Creative)

IMPLICATIONS POST COVID-19

Confining people to their homes and telling them to radically change how they live is central to how the world is dealing with the outbreak. However, these social distance measures are likely to have a profound impact in the long-term too.

Although we don’t believe online gatherings will ever truly replace face-to-face interaction, we expect an acceleration in the growth of a trend we call ‘A Cocooned Generation’. So, as the ‘home’ consolidates itself as ‘safe-haven’, more people from across Britain may end up spending their nights in just like the Scots – Netflix and Chilling.

2) WELSH PEOPLE ARE THE BIGGEST IN GAMING

The UK is the 6th biggest gaming market in the world. According to the BBC, this accounts to approximately 37.3m people, and was worth a whopping £5.7 billion in 2018.

Across Britain, 20% of people claim to have decided not to go out and stay in to play video games at least three times in a month, but this figure is slightly higher in Wales (22%).

Amongst 18-34 years old, that goes up to 35%; also higher than when compared to Millennials-only in England or Scotland. This makes Wales the nation in Britain that is most in gaming. (Source: Missouri Creative)

IMPLICATIONS POST COVID-19

For years, the gaming industry in the UK has been growing at an exponential rate. Social distancing will accelerate this. A growing number of young people with more free time due to the lockdown will not only start gaming as entertainment, but also as way to stay connected with friends and to do something fun together in times of isolation regardless of where they are. The lockdown could also end up making it easier for gaming brands to reach other age groups, and soon what will start to become clearer to everyone is that video games are the social network of the future.

3) ENGLISH PEOPLE ARE THE BIGGEST IN HOSTING

If the ideal Friday night for you involves less hanging out at busy bars and restaurants, and more ordering takeout or hosting friends, you’re not alone. In fact, this is something you share with a growing number of Millennials in the UK.

Our research shows that 18-44 years old in England are Britain’s biggest hosts; and 56% of them claim to have made the decision to stay in on a weekend night to host friends at least once in a period of a month. (Source: Missouri Creative)

IMPLICATIONS POST COVID-19

Things may go in two starkly different directions. First, the outbreak could make a lot of people anxious about venturing out to busy bars and restaurants. That’s an outcome that would accelerate the rise of home entertainment.

On the other hand, Twitter is full of people saying how badly they miss going out to socialise – you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it! This would be excellent news for bars, pubs and clubs across Britain, which on top of seeing declining footfall for years straight, have been one of the hardest hit business during the lockdown.

If you want to find out more about how people in Britain spend their downtime, you can do so by heading to our insights page and downloading our latest Show Me paper.