In the second installment of our examination into the casualization of culture, our focus has shifted to the permutations in fine dining and communication tools and how the way we communicate, work, and eat is changing in this new environment. Check out the first installment of this two-part series.
Via Zoom or other video conferencing platform, we are able to break through the office culture facades and – quite literally – peer into each other’s lives, homes, and – often – messes. From children photobombing a video call, to the family pet mewling in the background, to just seeing one’s colleagues and clients in their element, a fascinating phenomenon has taken hold. We are connecting more than ever before. Many feel more connected and comfortable with clients despite the distance. Business pitches and presentations are shrinking in content, paring down the slides and words on a page, relying more on connecting verbally and visually. Perhaps the digital wall of screens is not such a barrier at all, and rather, the conference room table is.
The educational system has faced similar challenges, from primary all the way to higher education. Kindergarteners and PhD candidates alike are interacting with their peers and instructors over video conferences and consuming digitized lessons and course materials. Kiddos begin classes by checking in with their classmates, offering giggles and words of support alike. Collegiates are gathering with their cohorts for impromptu video happy hours, toasting to dissertations and passing grades. “Student programming,” often impossible to enforce, has taken off organically as students crave and seek out the connection that comes with the classroom environment.
The implications for the office and the classroom alike: the way we interact with one another is evolving. In many ways, the physical distance and isolation has left us more connected than before. Reconnecting with our selves as colleagues, as friends, and mostly importantly: as human beings.
The rise of fine casual and fast casual has been putting pressure on fine dining for years, borrowing the speed and efficiency of fast food combined with the upgraded experience and flavors of fine dining. Coupled with the advent of mobile delivery, brick-and-mortar restaurants have had to alter service models to keep up with growing demand for meals on the go and meals meant for home. Even the stalwarts – if they can be called that in such a new market – like GrubHub and Caviar have new threats from chains using their own apps and delivery models, as well as POS systems like Toast.
COVID-19 has us eating at home, but also cooking at home much more, also placing strain on alternative grocery channels and delivery. Amazon has even recently placed a cap on grocery delivery orders to cope with overwhelming demand.
With a market already trending to delivery, takeout and meal kit-based consumption, COVID-19 has only accelerated this shift at hyper-speed. It’s likely that the massive toll that has been taken on by the restaurant industry could shutter up to a staggering 75 percent of restaurants.
All in all, the current crisis is certainly not one to be taken lightly, with its effects living deep in the psychology of all who have been a part of this unforeseen time. Consumers’ needs are inevitably evolving and shifting away from excess and fuss to comfort, connectivity and the freedom of choice, thus evolving the way they interact with brands.
If your brand needs help identifying how to reach consumers amidst rapid changes, check out our suite of services designed to deliver actionable, timely impact.