The new outdoors – what marketers need to do next

Our relationship with the world outside has changed in recent years, but the scale and intensity of this has been accelerated by COVID-19.

Jul 31, 2020

by Neil Davidson

CEO and Partner

Our relationship with the world outside has changed in recent years, but the scale and intensity of this has been accelerated by COVID-19.

Many legacy outdoor behaviours and trends have been boosted by COVID-19, as necessary behaviour changes in response to restrictions and dangers may well become entrenched positive behaviours. Glamping in the UK, cookouts in the USA, outdoor markets in Australia and drive-ins and outdoor cinemas in South Africa aren’t new but will be important in 2020 and 2021.

Parks, green spaces, pavements and streets are our new spaces to socially connect while feeling safer and viewing the outdoors differently and more positively in those too-often times when the sun doesn’t shine.

These social connections seem like miniature outbursts of what sociologists call “collective effervescence”, in response to lockdown. It’s when a community or society comes together and simultaneously communicates the same thought and participate in the same action, unifying the group.

The new outdoors offers opportunities and threats to brands. It demands creative and functional responses to help people still finding out how to make the most of this new outdoor socialising.

  1. Enable the new outdoors to re-connect your brand with people Be a brand that helps people truly enjoy this renewed freedom offered by outdoor socialising, while balancing a desire for novelty but knowing that novelty, strangeness and strangers can also mean danger currently. 
  2. Think creative physical (don’t always think digital workaround) How can you still connect in physical spaces now, but by being creative, responsible and safe? Yes, digital takes away risks but it also takes away connectivity, particularly when we are all Zoomed out at the end of the day and the end of the week.
  3. Make meaningful memories Previously connecting through experiences often had to choose between scale and depth but in a world post-lockdown experiences need to be more about connecting with smaller groups who then create, share and amplify content because they are part of deeper collective social experiences.

The socially distanced ‘Cinema on Water’ from Häagen-Dazs is a great example of tackling these opportunities and challenges creatively and creating an experience that is right for the brand and these times, and therefore gets the brand amplified:

https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/life/things-to-do/floating-outdoor-cinema-boats-703624.

The new outdoors is here to stay and smart brands are already reacting.