COVID era insight

Our insights team conducted a short email survey asking our community how Covid-19 has impacted personal workflows and the outlook on the role of design and innovation over the next few quarters.

Below are our our findings and high-level takeaways from these responses, along with thought-starter questions to spur dialogue. Please keep an eye out for future insights on various topics within consumer product and brand innovation!

1. Work-life balance most important... but is it really?

When asked about the importance of various aspects of work over the coming months, Work-Life Balance and Time Management had the highest importance score of our five categories (avg 8.5/10), but only by an incremental margin, slightly edging out Product & Concept Innovation (8.0) and also Preserving Company Morale (8.0). In fact, all of our five categories were ranked 7.7 or higher (on a scale of 1-10). How can we interpret this? Perhaps it’s an indicator that the intangible aspects of our personal and professional lives are just as important as our more executional ones. Or it could mean that people are still unsure about how to prioritize different aspects of their work lives during these challenging times. Or that collaborating with our families is as important as collaborating with our colleagues.

Thought starters

  • With a proliferation of online webinars and educational streaming content, will professional learning see a huge growth? Or will the fatigue of online learning and/or paywalls lead to a decline?
  • How might personal time management products shift now that our distractions are home-based versus work-based?

On a scale of 1-10, please answer how important the following priorities are to you during the next 3 months...

2. Design & innovation: we’re a big deal

Even in times of economic uncertainty and downturn, design retains a sense of self-importance. Among our sample (which consisted of a number of professionals in the design industry), 92% felt that design will be as or more important than ever in the Covid era, and 50% said innovation cycles will remain constant or increase in the months ahead. If consumers are being more selective and mindful of wallet-share, delivering an excellent experience may be an even bigger purchase driver.

Thought starters

  • Does the threat of a potential recession drive clients to invest more in innovative products and experiences instead of, say, advertising or marketing?
  • Will design shift to more of a value-based positioning during a period of economic downturn?

How do you see the role of design (product, experience, brand, etc) in your industry in the next 6-12 months?

Do you expect your innovation cycles to remain constant, slow down or speed up over the next 6-12 months?

3. Overall outlook: not all sunshine & rainbows

When asked about their overall outlook on their industries, 58% expected some kind of downturn in the near future. Interestingly, those that felt that there would be a slight uptick in their industries included a range of different categories: Product design, graphic/visual design, food & beverage, fashion/apparel, medical/surgical, and health & wellness.

Thought starters

  • Are there recession-proof industries anymore?
  • Can design or innovation potentially ‘save’ industries in peril?
  • We’ve seen design ‘step up to the challenge’ in the Covid crisis by rapidly prototyping PPE and ventilators -- how might we extend that line of thinking into longer-term initiatives and changes to our workflows and innovation cycles?

How well do you expect your industry to fare over the next 6-12 months?

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