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UK Media & Consumer Market Update — April 15, 2020

UK Media & Consumer Market Update — April 15, 2020
15 April 2020 Zac van Manen

Accurate as of 15 April, 2020.

Current UK status:

Visit for all official information.

  • As of 9am on 14 April 2020, a total of 302,599 people have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19), of which 93,873 were confirmed positive.
  • 12,107 patients in the UK who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
  • The UK remains in the delay phase with lockdown restrictions preventing people from leaving their homes unless for essential work, supermarket shops and exercise.
  • Increased testing facilities for NHS staff, critical key workers, and their families, have begun this week.
  • By 16 April, the UK Government is required to give an update to the British public regarding any changes to lockdown restrictions. Media coverage thus far has signalled that there is unlikely to be any changes and the lockdown will continue. The daily number of new cases and deaths is not decreasing enough to warrant lighter lockdown restrictions.
  • The restrictions continue to cause a collapse in commercial activity, fuelling concerns for the longer-term physical, mental and economic health of the country.
  • The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is currently recovering from the virus. He is no longer in hospital and is recovering back at home. The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, is still deputising for him until he has made a full recovery.

UK travel restrictions:

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  • The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice remains that all non-essential travel within the UK AND international travel should be avoided in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus. Many flights are cancelled out of the UK due to travel bans around the world. This remains in place until at least 17 April 2020, and will then be reviewed.
  • The FCO is still working with airlines to fly back British tourists stranded abroad.
  • UK travellers are still banned from entering the US.

Media commentary:

  • Travel content that is high in demand includes destination guides, virtual experiences, local recipes, educational resources, and news (new openings and offers applicable from September 2020 onwards).
  • Travel content relating to natural landscapes, the outdoors, escapism, and getting active is increasingly sought, as following global lockdowns people believe that holidays incorporating the great outdoors will be popular.
  • Content that media are requesting remains inspirational, with few media publications including calls to action or booking details.
  • Some media outlets are showcasing what coronavirus has done to positively impact some destinations (e.g. Venice and its increased wildlife in the canals, reduced pollution in Beijing).
  • Publications are writing less about Europe, and more about the UK and long-haul destinations.
  • Countries with a high death count are less likely to be written about, particularly Italy, Spain, and the US.
  • General feedback from publications is that press trips are on hold, but they will look at trip invitations from September onwards. They may not be able to commit 100% just yet, however.
  • Many publications are still encouraging readers to delay/reschedule their holiday bookings, rather than to cancel them outright; however consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated at the delays in reaching customer service teams, denials of refunds, and the like. The Government is being called to take action and make it compulsory for travel brands to offer refunds and more relaxed booking change policies.
  • TTG reported that Norwegian Airlines will look to restructure its debt in an attempt to raise the equity it needs to qualify for £236 million in state aid (note as Norwegian is one of the main carriers servicing London to Tampa).

Consumer commentary:

  • It is predicted that domestic travel will bounce back first, followed by international travel. This is because should there be uncertainty regarding getting ‘stranded’ somewhere, people would rather be closer to home.
  • Companies not providing refunds remains an issue which is building Government interest.
  • Customer service teams in the travel industry are at full capacity, with long wait times for customers.
  • Research suggest that brands need to speak up now more than ever, with people spending time at home and thinking about planning ahead for future travel. People will make more considered choices in where they choose to holiday, and destinations need to remain front of mind. However, destination messaging should be considered and measured.
  • Brits are still searching for holidays online (and have more time for this now).
  • The top 3 areas Brits are searching for are Oceania, North America, and the Caribbean
  • 75% of Brits believe that it will be safe to travel in 6 months’ time (September) – Skyscanner poll.
  • 21% of Brits will look to UK-based travel, while 20% will be seeking a break overseas – Skyscanner poll.
  • First to re-book holidays will be those in the higher income bracket (£80k income) who want to ‘escape’ overseas, and 18-30 year olds wanting a great deal and to get in quick, and who value experiences – Skyscanner poll.
  • People remain heavily influenced by social media, websites and TV right now (less so by print, magazines, billboard ads, etc).
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been welcomed hugely by UK businesses, and the scheme is being widely used in order to retain jobs. However, this is only in place until 31 May currently. It is unknown how long the scheme will run for.

Social media:

  • Overall social media usage up by 40% while the platforms are expecting to take a 40% hit in advertising revenues this quarter as advertisers stop spending. This does, however, represent an opportunity for advertisers who still have product to sell.
  • We’re seeing some of our cheapest paid social results since Rooster started advertising. These clients are largely in the higher-end consumer space with product values starting from £180. Impulse buy purchases remain down but social media buyers across the board are experiencing great direct-to-consumer results.
  • As long as you have a stable budget, a great product, striking creative, and a solid supply chain you can buy some cheap attention and make cost-effective and ROI-friendly sales at the moment.
  • Organic content for travel clients remains inspirational and distant with no calls to action. Some clients remain silent other than customer service posts, others are posting about their coronavirus relief efforts (flying planes loaded with medical cargo, etc.), and others are posting interactive Instagram Stories asking people to guess where a particular letter is taken — keeping in line with their surprise holiday brand.
  • Users remain open to brands’ content schedules — we’re still seeing good reach, good engagement, and willingness to engage with posts that don’t necessarily remind us that we’re in a weird time. Better to work with the situation and acknowledge it implicity through your content strategy rather than explicity in your copy.
  • Steak-umms, renowned ‘brand Twitter’ account, went viral again this week with a thread about using data against anecdotes to inform the way we think about/talk about/consider our coronavirus response as individuals. It’s worth noting that everything Steak-umms does is unusual and they’re considered a pioneering Twitter brand. This can cut both ways however.
  • NB: For more information on the history of brand Twitter, read this great article (written by Nathan Allebach, the guy behind the keys of the Steak-umms account).
  • Livestreams across Instagram are way up and a great way to engage users but it’s important that you have a plan and a representative that knows how to entertain. Also worth making sure your livestreams are saving down to your Instagram archive — otherwise they’re lost.

Confused about how best to communicate with your customers during this period? Get in touch.