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GM Thought of the Day: It takes a village…

In the week that rocked the nation, beyond the images of perfection for our new home schooling requirement, what is the reality for parents and how does this impact retail, media habits and content consumption?

Like all households across not only the UK but the globe, our team are adjusting to their new working from home normality.  No more so than the parents amongst us. The stark reality of not only caring for but educating our little people whilst in isolation, coupled with fitting in a full working day, is hitting home. No longer can we rely on the grandparents, nursery, child minder or school to provide the level of care we have become accustomed. Not surprising the most used emoji across my received and sent messages this week has been ?

Reflecting on my own experience and that of my friends, family and colleagues there are some interesting observations that we can draw in terms of the impact on retail, media habits and content consumption.

At the announcement of school closure, I know I was not alone going straight online to get supplies for the coming weeks ahead for entertaining and educating our children at home.

After filling my Amazon shopping basket with educational books and products in the evening, by the morning when I went to hit ‘buy now’, over half of the items were no longer available.

The next day we decided a home printer would be a good investment for printing the large number of worksheets being shared by school, nursery and various parent Whats App groups.  Logging onto John Lewis their low-cost printers were reporting 100’s of purchases in the last hour coupled with 100+ people viewing at that time.  Panic buying had moved on from food to school supplies!

Alongside purchasing we are as predicted seeing uplifts in children’s commercial viewing.  Whilst there are peaks being observed this is not to the level we have seen in other countries, perhaps down to launch of Disney+ this week or perhaps is it our conscious parents taking their role as educator seriously and not using the TV as a virtual babysitter.

Current statistics are showing a shift in breakfast viewing starting later as families across the country use the lack of commute to unset their alarms.  In our household we are currently trying to uphold a level of structure throughout the day and where possible not revolving around screen time.  It is however inevitable that we will see an increase in screen use during this period.  We turn to the TV set to provide some down time, for parents and children alike or to give you that critical moments piece for an important work call.  Not forgetting our new 5pm prime time viewing slot of the Prime Ministers Daily Announcement.

One thing that I can see across the board is a consciousness of the quality of content the Children are watching.  Whilst higher quality content in either overtly or in overtly teaching our children, YouTube historically is an opportunity for them to binge watch user generated and unboxing content at the weekend as a treat.  It has now transformed over night into a home-schooling aid providing PE classes, drawing lessons, educational songs and much much more.  The perfect example of this is Joe Wicks PE classes for the nation, now top trending and being shared on Whats App groups across the country.

But we all have great intentions in week 1… with Easter fast approaching it will be interesting to see if the viewing stats reveal parents relaxing the current schedules and rules across this period to invoke a holiday vibe in the household.  In subsequent weeks will the enthusiasm to home schooling dwindle creating a new sense of normality?

For now at least the iPads remain locked up till the weekend but ask me 4 weeks from now if they remain there!

Stay home, stay safe.