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UK Media & Consumer Market Update — April 29, 2020

UK Media & Consumer Market Update — April 29, 2020
29 April 2020 Zac van Manen

Accurate as of: 29 April 2020

Current UK status:

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  • As of 9am on 28 April 2020, a total of 763,387 people have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19), of which 161,145 were confirmed positive.
  • 21,678 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.
  • 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, has made a full recovery from COVID-19 and is back fronting the public in his role as Prime Minister.

UK travel restrictions:

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  • As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice.
  • Most flights in and out of the UK are cancelled. Airlines are cancelling flights approximately 7 days out from departure.
  • Brits abroad are strongly advised to return to the UK now, where and while there are still commercial routes available.
  • UK travellers are still banned from entering the US, as well as many other countries around the world.

Media commentary:

  • The Future of Travel has been discussed in an article by The Telegraph, predicting that in the short term travel will be cheap, but be more expensive later on; many tour operators and travel companies will go bust; people will see the value in package holidays that are protected; and independent travel (e.g. by car) will be more popular due to health reasons.
  • In an article by Travel Weekly, the Gatwick Airport CEO is calling for virus tests for airline passengers 48 hours before departure, and that travellers should also be required to carry ‘health passports’ to prove they are clear of coronavirus before flying.
  • 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 and an article by The Guardian states.
  • British Airways have said they will need to cut 12,000 jobs from its 42,000-strong workforce due to the collapse of leisure industry during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Travel companies are asking the FCO for clearer updates on travel advice, with Advantage CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said saying travel agents and consumers needed a timeframe from the Foreign Office on when travel advice would change so they can make informed decisions about holidays.
  • 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).
  • The virtual travel space is becoming a bit saturated, with hundreds of travel companies and destinations producing this content. Demand for this from media and consumers has largely dropped.
  • UK media (e.g. The Guardian) are showing signs that they are not covering the US, likely given the perceived poor management from the Trump Administration re COVID-19 and the ramifications involved. The UK coverage of Trump’s management of COVID-19 has been largely negative.
  • 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:

  • A survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that 71% of retailers saw a decrease in sales in April, with only 16% reporting an increase. The -55% slide matches the December 2008 post-financial crisis drop. UK consumer confidence steadied in early April but remained at its lowest level in over a decade.
  • 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.
  • 60% of Brits are dreaming of a summer holiday, of which 31% are dreaming of holidaying abroad, while 31% are dreaming of holidaying in the UK (Markettiers survey)
  • 42% of Brits are still looking to book a holiday abroad for 2020, with nearly 1 in 5 looking to book as soon as lockdown is over (Markettiers survey)
  • 53% of Brits with 2020 holidays in the diary are confident their trips will still go ahead this year (Markettiers 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:

  • As a reminder, usage stats remain about 40% higher than usual across the board.
  • Head of Instagram @mosseri has started posting schedules of upcoming high-profile Instagram Lives.
  • New Instagram Story stickers — food orders, donations, and gift cards — are now live. Food orders are placed through Deliveroo and UberEats and gift cards are run through Gift Up!, LoyLap, and SumUp. Donations are open to a list of preapproved organisations which can be found through the sticker. COVID relief is the priority though charities with other causes are also approved for the program.
  • LinkedIn has published new data on content engagement trends. Obviously, there’s been an enormous spike in company posts mentioning COVID-19, but the “coronavirus posts that got the most engagement were about how big companies were stepping up to help relief efforts, in ways big and small.”
  • On LinkedIn, company posts about work-from-home are also trending globally, particularly across Asia-Pacific and the United States. Makes sense.
  • Facebook Messenger has launched its own Zoom competitor, Messenger Rooms. These group calls can hold up to 50 people with no time limit. Hosts can invite anyone to join — even if they don’t have a Facebook or Messenger account. It’s currently rolling out to selected countries and will launch globally in the coming weeks. Find out more here.
  • iOS Twitter users will have seen a new ‘retweets with comments’ option on tweets recently. This will help consolidate retweets with comments into the ‘parent’ tweet as, until now, they’ve been considered separate tweets. No more URL trickery. TBD on Android or desktop expansion of this feature.
  • Social ads are still reasonably priced though, as advertisers do come back into the fold, costs are rising. Overall, costs are down about 30% which is a spike on the 60%-70% discounts we were seeing two weeks ago.
  • TikTok is now also available on desktop for analytics and upload. They’ve also been pushing the TIkTok Ads platform to social ad influencers (they exist) so stay tuned for updates.
  • Outside of social exclusively, Google will start requiring identification for new advertisers. The program has begun in the US and will roll out globally, applying initially to Search, Display, and YouTube ads. The move is designed to provide users with more transparency around the who, why, and where of the ads they’re being served across Google platforms.

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