A post virus era for a new beginning?

Many scientists have foreseen a pandemic outbreak bringing halt to life as we know it.

For many years now we’ve understood that in order for our species to survive, and for our planet to breathe again, we need to change drastically the way we live, consume, travel and entertain. There’s no way we can continue to produce as many goods and the many choices we’ve grown accustomed to. And in our trend reports we see that the younger generations have a different approach to fashion for example, or the ownership of a car. The impact of the Coronavirus is very layered and complex. Going from disbelief and anxiety, to the social pressure of doing the right thing, to the realization of separation, home offices and isolated retreats.

We question everything we’ve grown accustomed to

This virus slows down our pace, refusing to do unnecessary travels to work, to travel without questioning, to find again joy in long days and nights with families, to be self-fulfilling, to be creative with the things we own, to stay healthy in body and mind. Suddenly the Milan Design fair seems out of place, the different ads on travel and cars invasive and ridiculous, the thought of future projects vague and inconclusive.

Will it even matter? Will it still make sense?

Every day since we’ve felt the changes in our daily lives, we question everything we’ve grown accustomed to since birth, and we wonder if things will ever be and feel the same. Slowly we’ll realize that we’ll need to get used to living with fewer possessions and travelling less, as the virus – and the threat of new possible viruses – disrupts global productions and networks. Unfortunately, in this situation there’s no immediate cure. We’ll have to pick up what’s left and reinvent new ways once the virus is under control.

A world of empty shelves and mediocre goods

Many people have not yet understood the vast impact this virus will have on our economy and on our consumption behavior. For sure many of our Belgian companies will suffer for their existence. The effect on what will be produced in Belgium will decrease. And off course in the rest of the world. For example 90 per cent of all oil-derived substances such as plastic and polyester are made in China. The luxury fashion industry in Italy is on hold, as a re many other industries in the US, Europe and beyond. We will soon see empty shelves of shoes, phones, clothes, toothpaste, clothes and even medical supplies. E-commerce and online delivery will be dominated by mediocre goods to answer the demand.  

The true cost of this virus, next to the many deceased people, thorn families and social inequality, is an unseen economic disaster. All sectors will be shaken, foremost airlines, hospitality, electronics, luxury brands and imported foods. 

The quarantine of consumption

One of world’s most renowned trendwatcher, Lidewij Edelkoort, talks about a quarantine of consumption. ‘It seems we are massively entering a quarantine of consumption where we will learn how to be happy just with a simple dress, rediscovering old favorites we own, reading a forgotten book and cooking up a storm to make life beautiful,” she writes.

We are shifting from an economic recession to an economic disruption. ‘The virus also shows how economic disruption can have environmental benefits’, concludes Lidewij. Recent pictures of the air above China showed how two months without production cleared the skies and allowed people to breathe again. Nature is recovering now that many big production facilities have closed down. This will surely be visible on a larger scale…

Let’s build a better world

I think that this unfortunate time for all of us could carry a seed of optimism, for another and better system. The time is now more than ever ready for a new beginning. To reflect on and change the way we live, eat, buy, travel, etc. To have more respect for human labor, conditions and the environment. Hopefully people, companies, marketeers, product developers and even countries will seize the moment to reinvent or re-question their true reason to exist, to bring the valuable brand purpose to live in a different more future proof sustainable way.

Improvisation skills and creativity will become the highest asset. Local initiatives will gain momentum and people-based initiatives will take over with even more farmer markets, play initiatives and wonderful new DIY initiatives in all kinds of categories. The future can be bright if we all take on the courage to not continue blindly where we’ve left but to reflect on how to create a ‘healthier’ world together.

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