Simon Moriarty
Simon is the EMEA Director of Trends, responsible for content, client servicing and commercial support across the region.

Since the start of 2020, anxiety has been at the forefront of discussions about the world returning to normal – and in particular, how young people need help adapting to a post-pandemic way of living.

The pandemic has exacerbated the anxieties of this cohort. According to data from Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), seven in ten under-25s believe that the pandemic and ongoing restrictions will have a negative impact on their long-term mental health. Understanding the realities of younger consumers will help brands plan on how they can provide guidance and support going forward, and play a key role in creating a more positive, inclusive and safe landscape.

Financial security plays a huge part in alleviating the stress of British people. From our research we know that for 16-24s, the most common description of their financial situation is ‘OK’, meaning that they get by but without a great deal left once essentials are taken care of. Meanwhile,  over a quarter of all Brits say that they are worse off than a year ago.

Incentivisation and rewarding financial behaviour is an effective way for brands to help young people feel that they are ‘doing the right thing’, and from a brand perspective, helps encourage loyalty longer term – such as the fintech company Afterpay’s Pulse program, which is designed to reward those who regularly make payments on time.

For Gen Zs (those aged 11-23, who make up 15% of the British population), financial security is their third most significant cause of stress, with over half saying they are worried about their financial future (behind future career concerns and academic concerns). 

By combining de-stressing with playfulness and enjoyment, brands and organisations can actively show that they are working to help improve the mental health of their customers and users – from Prospect, the union for specialists (such as scientists, engineers and tech workers), urging that the legal right to disconnect is added to the employment bill, to the BBC’s Festival of Funny. In the UK, six out of ten of people seek fun in every aspect of life, and this combined with the fact that a similar level are actively seeking ways to reduce stress provides opportunity for brands to tap into these twin demands.

Mintel’s Social Isolation Trend has never been more relevant when it comes to understanding how consumer behaviour and attitudes have shifted and will continue to shift going forward. This Trend finds that loneliness is coming into focus as people are replacing physical interactions with digital updates. Constant digital connectivity can increase feelings of loneliness, social isolation and depression, creating a demand for products and services from brands and organisations to help people learn to disconnect and resolve health-related issues.

However, in a post-pandemic world, there is scope to combine offline and online experiences to support the needs of people who are looking to re-engage with the world, but who want to do so at their own pace, and in their own comfort zones.

  • The restaurant Bij de Tuinman launched a ‘street meal’ concept, offering neighbourhoods a socially distanced way to get together for a dinner (Netherlands).
  • Pharmacy chain Apotek Hjärtat released a short video to allow viewers to experience a ‘digital hug’ during this time of physical separation (Sweden).
  • Pizza Pilgrims launched a campaign enabling consumers to send a free pizza kit to loved ones who are in most need of a pick-me-up in lockdown (UK).

In order for brands to resonate with young people in the future, they need to think about how they can support them in the short, medium and long term.

Now – the next 12 months

The collective negative effect the pandemic will have on mental health will create a wave of demand for support for issues such as the trauma of loss, to longer-term emotional distress.

The ongoing shift away from the external desire to look good toward an internal desire to feel good will be carried through into the next year.

Next – 18-24 months

With burnout likely to impact consumers across the world, the need for personalised, on-demand, convenient and situation-based support will be required.

Home has been the epicentre of safety, and consumers will make changes to what’s missing from where they live and what changes they want to make for the future.

Future – 5 years+

Tech is reshaping entire industries, especially healthcare, which will see dramatic changes to the future of health and wellbeing. Health tech will allow for a more proactive approach, by monitoring patients’ vitals or spotting patterns in data that predict specific conditions. Transparency and security of personal data is key.

Click here to watch the webinar ‘Supporting young consumers’ mental wellbeing’ with Mintel Director of Trends EMEA –  Simon Moriarty, CALM CEO Simon Gunning and ITV Social purpose Head of Strategy and Communications, Susie Brown.