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UK Media & Consumer Market Update — April 22, 2020

UK Media & Consumer Market Update — April 22, 2020
22 April 2020 Zac van Manen

Accurate as of April 22, 2020.

Current UK status:

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  • As of 9am on 21 April 2020, a total of 535,342 people have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19), of which 129,044 were confirmed positive.
  • 17,337 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.
  • The UK lockdown has been extended for three weeks, and will be reviewed again following.
  • By 7 May, the UK Government is required to give an update to the British public regarding any changes to 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 still recovering from COVID-19.

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.
  • A new report from the World Tourism Organisation reveals that as of 6 April, 96 per cent of all worldwide destinations have introduced travel restrictions in response to the pandemic. Around 90 destinations have completely or partially closed their borders to tourists, while a further 44 are closed to certain tourists depending on country of origin.
  • The FCO is still working with airlines to fly back British tourists stranded abroad (mostly with BA).
  • UK travellers are still banned from entering the US.

Media commentary:

  • Low-cost airline Norwegian has reported its staffing subsidiaries in Denmark and Sweden have filed for bankruptcy, meaning roughly three quarters of its pilots and crew will lose their jobs.
  • Virgin Atlantic is in severe financial trouble and Branson has now injected £215 million to save the brand. It is highly likely that Virgin Atlantic will be in discussions with the Government and to ensure competition remains on long-haul routes, however it is expected this will be met with criticism.
  • All of the UK’s biggest airlines and most big holiday companies are systematically breaking the law by denying timely refunds to customers for travel cancelled during the pandemic, researchers have found (Which?/Guardian).
  • 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.
  • It is expected that health & safety will be a much higher priority moving forward in all aspects, especially travel.
  • Travel content that people have said they want to consume are: Government travel advice, special offers for 2020/2021, tips on safest places to visit, consumer rights on cancellations, UK holiday ideas (MMM survey).
  • Travel content that is high in demand includes advice, destination guides, virtual experiences, local recipes, educational resources, and news (new openings and offers applicable from September 2020 onwards). Good/positive news is sought, as people want to consume more of this as COVID-19 news is so negative.
  • Most media are not publishing calls to action/booking details, instead hoping to inspire readers for later travel.
  • 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.

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.
  • It is expected that people will be more conscious about where they choose to travel post COVID-19, considering safety, health resources, sustainability, etc.
  • Whilst 3 in 4 say that consumers should try to be understanding and help companies during this time, an equal number feel not enough was done to contain COVID-19 (MMM survey).
  • Experiences with travel companies are mixed, as is the reaction towards the industry. Brits sympathise with the unforeseen impact of the pandemic but are frustrated by travel companies’ reactions (MMM survey).
  • 1 in 3 hope to book a trip later in 2020 (MM survey).
  • 50% of people agree there is no point planning travel at this time, travel enthusiasts are pining for the day the restrictions are lifted and many are planning their next adventure (MMM survey).
  • For those considering booking in 2020, September is the most popular month under consideration. 54% of readers think UK travel restrictions will be lifted by September but are more unsure when it comes to short and long haul destinations (MMM survey).
  • Beach and city breaks are the most considered and have the highest 2020 conversion, while spa breaks and scenic holidays are the next highest for consideration in 2020 (MMM survey).
  • The pandemic has created a cash crisis for travel companies, and the Government has yet to respond to the travel industry’s request for urgent action to protect jobs and customer money.
  • Companies not providing refunds remains an issue which is building Government interest.

Social media:

  • With social media usage up, it’s good to know exactly how other platforms are performing. Stats from Captiv8 reveal:
    • Facebook comments up 20%
    • Instagram video views up 23%
    • Instagram likes up 30%
    • Instagram Live views are up 1000%, with ‘top talent creating content for thousands of fans tuning in daily.’
    • TikTok saw an 18% week-on-week uplift in US downloads at the end of March
    • YouTube’s seeing a 20-30% increase in engagement, particularly around health, fitness, arts, culture, DIY, and makeover niches.
    • Twitch recorded a 31% growth in viewership and recently beat its all-time viewership record.
    • Snapchat recorded a 20% jump in active users year-on-year for Q1.
  • It’s likely none of this is a big surprise but it’s worth tracking growth rates as the demand for digital content has never been higher.
  • LinkedIn Learning reports a 300% increase during lockdowns.
  • Desktop Instagram has been progressively rolling out upgrades as desktop usage grows. Desktop DMs rolled out last week and now Instagram Lives are accessible from desktop too. A sneaky upside is that now you can provide a URL to other platforms to encourage people to join in rather than just directing them generally to Instagram.
  • Across Rooster’s clients, customer service enquiries across travel have fallen back from March records to about 10% up on February numbers.
  • Facebook has just invested $5.7 billion into Indian internet provider Jio. Facebook previously tried to hitch its wagon to the Internet Project in developing countries so this may be an attempt to revive this project throughout India as it’s now reached full electrification.
  • Social ad costs have risen slightly from their steep lows over the Easter long weekend. They’re about 10-15% up on then but we’re still seeing costs a third cheaper overall than they used to be. Still a great time to advertise if you can.

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