The Youth Lab


Today, taking a welcomed break from US election analysis (and scrolling through ‘STOP THE COUNT’ Trump memes), we hosted a webinar for our clients entitled ‘Riding The Crest of Wave 2 Lockdown’, sharing an understanding of the psychology of consumer’s mindset right now and guidance on how best to show up to ensure immediate brand and business survival. This week’s 52INSIGHTS provides a brief summary of some of the insights we shared.


Early in 2020, the pandemic presented as an emergency scenario and we acted accordingly - survival mode kicked in. People tapped into their “surge capacity” to operate, as Ann Masten, PhD, a psychologist and professor calls it. Surge capacity is a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters.

In response to the shock to our everyday existence brought by Covid-19, during the first wave, we found within ourselves the energy to help others in need... 5K charity runs, delivering food to neighbours, collective clapping for carers etc. We were ‘in it together’ and acted accordingly, creatively problem-solving to find solutions to this immediate challenge.

Now, things are different. The pandemic is still raging and we’ve no real sense of when we will come out of ‘pandemic’ mode. The survival mode we went into before isn’t necessarily there as we no longer see the pandemic as this emergency we can find an immediate solution to. Our capacity has been deleted. We have had to come face to face with our destiny - the virus is STILL here, but the emergency phase has been replaced by a phase of chronic uncertainty.


According to KBC Bank’s Consumer Sentiment Index, October saw the lowest level reached on the sentiment survey since December 2012 (Apart from the wave 1 slump seen in April/May.)

Psychologically, what we are experiencing now, amidst this chronic uncertainty, is a sense of ambiguous loss - a loss that’s unclear and lacks a resolution. What people are collectively experiencing right now is a grieving for their life lost - where we have largely moved past the denial and anger stage, and are stuck in the sadness/depression stage edging to get out into the acceptance stage - the place where there is a sense of hope.

Brands looking to engage consumers need to do so by leveraging a more conscious, more emotionally meaningful connection with their audience.


As brands who have real impact and influence in the lives of consumers, the role that we can all play now is to help people - our customers, consumers of our brands - by helping them find their ‘inner surge.’

For now, this is about giving people the confidence to make consumer choices that help them feel better about living through Covid-19 realities.

For brands to drive consumer confidence and stimulate purchasing, the focus should be to help people make ‘feel good purchases’ by (1) helping people manage their losses and (2) promoting the gains of our Covid-19 reality.

Managing Losses is about acknowledging that as uncertain and uncontrollable as the bigger picture is, there are small things consumers can do to help themselves feel better and experience a sense of the familiar.

Promoting The Gains is really about recognising that as devastating as the situation is, it’s not all there is too life right now...the virus is there AND there is still joy, happiness and humour in our lives.

If you're interested in hearing more about our ‘Riding The Crest of Wave 2 Lockdown’ webinar, reach out via

See also


Let’s call a spade a spade… It’s been a heck of a week. Heading into winter with lockdowns facing many countries in Europe is not...