AUSTRALIAN NORMALITY INDEX – WE’VE TAKEN A BACKWARD STEP

AUSTRALIAN NORMALITY INDEX – WE’VE TAKEN A BACKWARD STEP

Is it surprising that Aussies are now feeling less normal than we did a month ago?  Victoria’s spike in the tail in the past 10 days has certainly had a distinct impact on Victorian’s sense of normality and looks to have had a dampening effect on the rest of the country.

This is our first monthly pulse check (Week 16) using the Normality Index.  Four weeks ago we, like many, we were assuming a steady but positive trajectory based on our success in flattening the curve and the lifting of restrictions. That is now history as we experience a savage spike in community transmission in Victoria and the subsequent re-introduction of restrictions and increasing border closures.  So no more than ever it is timely to be checking the mind, mood and behaviour of Australians.

KEY OBSERVATIONS FROM THE NORMALITY INDEX –  WEEK 16

  • AN INFECTION SPIKE SHIFTS OUR FOCUS…VERY QUICKLY:  If Victoria is the bellwether for our nation, then we can learn what happens to consumers and their general behaviours when placed under the stress of a resurgent COVID-19 and its restrictions.  The key driver in our Normality model for Victoria immediately shifted from prioritising ‘economic wellbeing’ and reverted to ‘comfortable to move about in the community’ (which is where it was in week 6).  Or in other words, from ‘livelihoods to lives”.
    The key driver for the rest of Australia remained as ‘economic wellbeing’.
  • ANXIETY PEAKS (AGAIN):  Nationally we are on the path back to our pre-COVID-19 emotional state.  But the situation in Victoria has thrown a spanner in the works.  As the state has had to accept the second lockdown, Victorians’ emotional state moved quickly back toward increases in Anxiety, Shame and Sadness. The levels recorded approximating the levels we saw early in the early weeks of COVID-19.  These are all negative emotions which may suppress motivation.
  • TRUST Dissipates  QUICKLY: Trust in the ethics and capability of the Victoria state government has been tested.  There were no changes in the ratings of the Federal government in these areas.  It appears that we are looking to state governments, and Premiers,  to lead the management of this crisis. The effect has been that state government ratings are very high in WA and significantly negatively impacted in Victoria. Whilst our survey focused on government, there are potentially lessons for brands in this insight.  Damage Trust, and you have a challenge to effect behaviour.
  • CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY:  We continue to see sharp negative responses to the tone deaf use of language related to COVID-19. Continue to be wary of how you are communicating in this environment. And also in where you are communicating.  There may be a case to consider tone and content for communications based on mind and mood in differing locations such as Victoria.

This past 10 days and the Victorian experiences shows us how quickly the world can change (again).   Our task as business leaders is to identify the changes happening to our markets, understand them and then reframe, rethink and reorient if we are to continue to play our role in the rebound of our organisations and the broader economy.