We would love for the pandemic to be in the rearview mirror but it’s not over by a long shot. We do expect greater uncertainty for the next year, and that the New Normal won’t ever be quite the same as the Old Normal. Because it never is.
But that doesn’t mean the New Normal won’t be okay. As a society, we adjust, and we believe that’s a positive perspective — we will get through this. We develop a new routine way to live, work and play.
We already issued our main trends for 2022 so here are our Covid-and-Midterm Edition of trends:
- Covid uncertainty amplifies credibility crisis. Months of evolving guidance has created distrust in the CDC, which it explains is the result of “fast-moving science.” Unfortunately, that distrust is exacerbating things at a time when distrust in American institutions is the highest its been since Watergate. What this means: This is a problem for marketers because the media is generally seen as less credible, across the spectrum, and marketers use media to communicate and engage with their audiences. Further, because the media world is increasingly polarized, companies may alienate customers based on whether or not they advertise or boycott certain media properties. Also, it is not easy to rebuild trust and credibility; it took the better part of a decade to recover from Watergate mistrust, and we didn’t have social media to contend with at that time.
- Consumer Price Index and inflation will get a lot of attention. The media will pay attention to the CPI and inflation – which are related but not the same measure. We also expect to hear the phrase “shadow inflation,” which refers to when companies hold prices but reduce the net weight of packaged food products or when travel and hospitality companies start charging for services they used to include in the purchase price. Gas prices will especially get coverage. What this means: As with supply chain, we expect inflation will improve later in the year but it will get coverage through October since this is likely to be a mid-term election year issue.
- Because it’s an election year, the media will pay attention to the two Americas separated racially, economically, politically and by access to opportunities and healthcare.Covid will continue to be the major story but because of the upcoming midterms, we think the media will try to report on the big gaps between the haves and the have-nots. What this means: We mention this not to open a political discussion but because there’s a limited “newshole,” and it’s important to know what reporters will be covering because it means less time or space for them to write about your company.
- Big Tech, particularly social media, will continue to relied upon and hated. There’s awareness that social media is causing societal problems and that Congress, which for years has held hearings to determine a solution, has not done anything more than grandstand rather than provide a solution. We expect ongoing media coverage of the problems across various platforms but we don’t expect Congress to provide a meaningful solution because too many in Congress think the answer is to break up some of these companies as if they were traditional monopolies or to replace Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which is designed to protect freedom of expression on the internet. What this means: Not much will change.
- Infrastructure and 5G will be important topics in 2022. Updating the country’s infrastructure is seen by some as a way to make the U.S. more competitive and also improve access to necessary services to the have-not Americans who, for example, lack access to high-speed internet. As 3G service is discontinued, it is necessary to help provide 5G access in parts of the country that lack high-speed access. What this means: reporters will be interested in experts who can discuss what needs to be done and how infrastructure investments can impact rural communities, the poor, etc.
Of these, we think the Covid uncertainty will have the longest-lasting impact although none of these is really a short-term trend.
We have another 10 trends — for a total of 20 to mark our 20th anniversary — to roll out over the next few days. Let us know if you agree or disagree.