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Rethinking rituals after covid

With sudden structural hammer that was the pandemic, societal rituals were reshaped and often entirely removed overnight. But what does this mean for the people effected and can we actively reshape these moving forward?

When Covid-19 hit one of the more shocking and obvious impacts was the rewriting of rules around milestone moments in life, like birthdays, weddings and probably most traumatically; funerals. There was much conversation about the psychological impact of this loss, how to try and support each other at a distance and the benefit that technology could provide in starting to bridge the gap.

Whilst we only die once and usually only have one or two weddings in a lifetime the daily rituals that were lost during the pandemic hold significant importance to our lives as well. In the Accenture/Fjord 2021 Trends unpacks the relevance of these different everyday rituals and looks at how smart brands can be a part of new post-pandemic rituals moving forward:

"Habits are things we do to make life easier, like wearing the same clothes or choosing the same lunch every day, just so we don’t have to think about it. Though habits make life easy, their nature makes them more disposable, in a way. Many habits changed because of Covid-19 and, as the crisis improves, not all will remain.

Rituals, on the other hand, make life meaningful. They can provide a way of coping, nostalgia and familiarity, or a sense of connectivity and belonging, and as such they are likely to be longer lasting. A ritual might be getting up fifteen minutes before the rest of the family to have a coffee and watch the clouds — a moment of calm that sets you up for whatever the day might hold.

Brands must work to understand the blank space left by a lost ritual, then identify and design an appropriate experience that could replace it. Brands involved in someone’s former ritual are likely to need to reimagine that experience. Whichever angle a brand is coming from, emotional connection will be key to their success, because a ritual is about more than just function."

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Accenture went further to break down the types of ritual and their significance. More than this they have looked at the brands that have cleverly jumped on board to fill the gap that has been created post-Covid.

Ritual as portal: something that allows us to transition between different parts of ourselves, i.e putting on makeup to transition from downtime me to social me.

New brand ritual: Microsoft Teams have added a "commute" function which will allow users to book in meeting free commute times to allow workers to wind down at the end of the day. Microsoft boss Satya Nadella stated: “Nobody thought they like their commute, except it is one of those times when you switch off, and those transitions matter.” Studies have found that allowing time for a commute is both useful for mental health and productivity

Ritual as sense of belonging: a ritual that helps you feel connected to others or a sense of belonging, i.e beers with the team post-match.

New brand ritual: Netflix Party - now known as Teleparty - allows users the ability to stream shows with their friends simultaneously, while they watch from different places. The functionality allows friends to pause without losing place and chat via an in-screen text box.

Ritual as comfort: self care or "me time" rituals that simply provide a sense of comfort, joy or relaxation.

New brand ritual: Estée Lauder enabled Google Home listeners the opportunity to receive a free sample of Advanced Night Repair Serum when they listened to Spotify's "New Beginnings" playlists, based on their listening patterns, The low tempo playlists were refreshed each week with short audio notes relating to bedtime skincare routines.

Ritual as anchor: The big moments we celebrate in life that act as milestones, such as birthdays, weddings, Christmas etc.

New brand ritual: As outlined in a previous issue of The Current, brands came together in the USA from different angles, all enabling Covid-safe replacements to the regular graduation and prom events, this included live sets from famous DJs, the donation of prom attire and even a USD$25,000 scholarship prize

As the world inevitably shifts slowly back to a post-covid world, there will be some longterm changes to the way we operate within it. Which brands will create or be a part of the new rituals that meaningfully tie to their brand purpose?

Zara Cooper


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