Community life is practically on pause through the pandemic. And yet, there is a feeling of a stronger sense of community being engendered.

People are finding new and creative ways to connect with friends and family using video calls with online quizzes and zoom nights in. And the public displays of solidarity from children’s rainbows adorning the nation’s windows to the now-weekly ritual of clapping for carers bring a strong sense of societal fabric.

The situation the masses now find themselves is identical to that of minorities did before the growth of the internet, reaching out to find connections with people with a common purpose, interest or need.

The internet enabled minorities, based on sexuality, race, religion, medical conditions or niche hobbies, to better connect with those with a common interest or the like-minded.

At the advent of the internet, there was an explosion of online communities to overcome the barriers of geography, isolation, and a need for anonymity in a less tolerant time – in some cases.

With no sign of social distancing being brought to a conclusion, we now all find ourselves in this situation. We are social creatures and have had our social lives severely curtailed. And so, online communities are where many of us are turning.

There are several brands, who either organically or even strategically have established online communities. Lego, Apple and Starbucks quickly come to mind. There are others whose product is the community itself, such as Mumsnet.

Those brands who effectively enable consumers to connect are making themselves an indispensable service to a public who are craving a sense of community during the coronavirus crisis.

As ever, Fruit Marketing are available to talk with brands interested in developing an online community.

Behavioural science has always been of serious interest to the marketing sector and – of course to the world of politics. But its theories have taken on particular importance in recent months with the spread of the coronavirus and an international lockdown.

One such theory has been notably employed in the UK to influence the public to practice social distancing, self isolation and ultimately lockdown. Nudge Theory was first brought to prominence by US Academics Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in their 2008 book “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness.”

It articulates tactics that influences not through enforcement, but by presenting a “choice architecture” that nudges people towards adopting a behaviour that can benefit them and not significantly impact them economically. Humans respond better to being coaxed rather than being coerced.

COVID-19 has – of course – caused a significant change to people’s everyday lives. But the threat to lives positioned against the inconvenience of lockdown, softened by mortgage holidays and support for furloughed employees schemes makes the choicer easier.

Similarly, the current arrangements were not brought in wholesale and nor are the timelines stretching months into the future. There has been light kept just ahead of us in the tunnel.

We – the UK public – have been nudged along gradually from voluntary restrictions to the over 70s self isolating to the urgings over non-essential travel and on to lockdown.

The lockdown was to be reviewed after Easter and now we are moving towards an unspecified date. But still we are nudged along with daily Government updates supported by consistent messaging and any developments will be gradual. Nudge, nudge and say no more.