The pandemic has completely changed life as we know it over the past few months. As consumers continue to social distance and limit their exposure to public places, their interests and habits are evolving. And some media companies are noticing that these behavioral changes will be long-lasting.

“The pandemic has disrupted every industry, sector, and sense of normalcy we’ve ever known,” states Jamie Rudick, the head of research and insights at Condé Nast Britain. “Though as we look to the next chapter, we see new values and virtues emerge – ones that will welcomingly carry on post pandemic.”

Publishers can use these emerging interests and values as a focal point to target consumers with engaging experiences online and drive subscriptions. To do so, media companies must first understand what new groups of consumers are willing to pay for.

Get a complete rundown of the new types of potential subscribers, and how your company can add them to its network of loyal community members:

People Looking for Social Outlets

Consumers have been deprived of in-person events and human connections since the pandemic’s start — but social interaction is essential to the public’s well-being. As a result, many consumers have become eager to move their social lives online. 

Even sports fans are relying on publishers for virtual opportunities to connect over industry milestones and updates.

“Facing the reality that packed theatres and auditoriums likely won’t be returning this year, would-be spectators are coming to terms with the prospect of paying for virtual cultural stimulation,” Condé Nast Britain explains in a report. 

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While some consumers are going online to maintain existing friendships, others are simply searching for a way to share their feelings about topics they care about with strangers. 

Media companies can use this to their advantage by providing consumers who are looking for social outlets with opportunities to participate in live conversations.

Hobbyists

Consumers that previously filled their schedules with commuting and social excursions suddenly have an abundance of time on their hands at home. As a result, they’re testing out old and new hobbies to keep themselves occupied as well as for therapeutic purposes.

In this time of uncertainty and instability, and a world and existence we no longer recognize, people need an anchor to familiarity and what [brings] them comfort, stability, safety, and happiness,” Dr. Jeff Gardere, a clinical psychologist, explains to CNN.

Poynter notes that hobby-specific publications have seen a particularly large surge in readers and engagement since the beginning of the pandemic. This new type of consumer is highly interested in building up home-based skills, like cooking, baking, gardening and home improvement.

To capture and hold the attention of these hobbyists, media companies may want to consider creating regular tip-style content and events related to popular hobbies.

Virtual Escapism Seekers

With countless vacations canceled and ex-globetrotters now stuck at home, the pandemic has pressed the pause button on travel. Those itching for a getaway are now craving other, safer ways to escape the grind of their daily lives. 

“Cornell University research has shown that there is a very close correlation between planning trips and mental health,” says Travel + Leisure India and South Asia’s editor-in-chief, Aindrila Mitra. “So there is no quarantine on dreaming, and it is our job to focus on armchair travel and provide virtual trips, which offer an escapism of sorts.”

Media companies can target this group of travel-hungry consumers through virtual experiences centered around nature, wellness, tourism and planning trips. 

Need some inspiration? Culture Trip is offering a series of interactive online experiences that focus on at-home international experiences, including meditation classes with a Buddhist teacher and Israeli or Morocco-based cooking classes.

Information Hunters

Between the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, consumers have never been more hungry for information. These news-obsessed individuals are constantly on the hunt for new and relevant information they can trust. 

In a survey with 2,500 consumers, 62% of respondents stated that they’re currently craving informative content. 

These individuals can be engaged through information hubs, like live blogs, where any ongoing updates related to a topic can be posted in a reliable space. 

This is the time for media companies to make use of these budding consumer interests to build stronger connections with audiences and drive subscriptions. At the end of the day, publishers that can spark a balance between entertainment, social engagement, escapism and reliable information will position themselves for growth.

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