Rewind two years ago, and you will recall some dire predictions, and even felt them depending on your circumstance or sector you worked in. Yet some services thrived, take Zoom for example. Zooms share price skyrocketed overnight, but have you taken a look recently? It’s back down to pre-pandemic price. The jump was short-lived as people resumed their pre-pandemic life, and enjoy a return to the office water cooler chat.  

If you’re a follower of Bill Gates you will be familiar on his theory of change:

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10”

Whilst this was written in 1996, it could have been written in March 2020 at the rate the predictions came through thick and fast. The ‘new normal’ was predicted in various forms, and it was all we could talk about (thankfully we can now go back to talking about the weather). Predictions that life will never be the same again, cities will never see the same footfall, office workers will never go back and international travel will not recover until 2024, were all drastic and somewhat overestimated. 

Take domestic travel for example, in Australia demand is back up to 50% of pre-pandemic levels already. Whilst glass half empty thinkers might think this is dire 12 months on, we cannot forget the hard borders present in Australia for 24 months, so to be back at 50% in spite of that demonstrates our will to return to pre-pandemic life, and how wrong some of the predictions at the start of the pandemic were. 

Which brings me to the question of, are these drastic market fluctuations because of our systematic permanent change in behaviour, or simply because of the situation we found ourselves in? Is there a new normal, or is there a gradual return to pre-pandemic life? Therefore, the new normal is remarkably similar to the old. I am a subscriber to the belief of the latter. 

Take cinema as another example, in the past 4 weeks cinema admits are sitting at 87% of pre-covid levels*, and +53% in 2022 in comparison to the same time last year. It’s clear that Australians continue to see the cinema as a valuable cultural experience that they enjoy, ultimately this cinema-going behaviour hasn’t changed. In addition, search trends for restaurants and eating out are in fact higher than pre-pandemic levels. Shocking, that we still want to enjoy a good meal out!

Of course, fluctuations rippled throughout most industries with crashes and sudden spikes in demand, usage and popularity that we suddenly had to navigate. However, my view is that a large majority of these changes are situational, temporary changes in behaviour, not a fundamental or permanent shift in our consumption and behaviour as some predictions may make out. In the end, the new normal is relatively similar to the old. 

So, Keep Calm, and Keep Advertising.