New Year's Resolutions and Shedding the Weight of 2020

By Insights for Curious Marketers Archives
Cover image for  article: New Year's Resolutions and Shedding the Weight of 2020

As we all reflect on the year behind us and ready our hopes for the year to come, one simply cannot write about 2020 without talking about COVID-19. It was the manipulating force of the year, reshaping the contour and details of our daily lives, and in turn, radically changing our shopping behaviors and causing unprecedented disruption to supply chain and distribution. How we work, how we socialize, how we shop, how we eat, how we consume media ... all of it was changed by the global pandemic and by our nation and local community's response to it.

The beginning of vaccine distribution aligning with the start of a new year is helping reinject at least a little optimism for us personally and collectively. I don't know about you, but news coverage and my social feeds feel tangibly more hopeful this past week or two, and I see many people continuing the annual tradition of closing out 2020 with setting intentions and aspirations for the new year.

As we transition from 2020 to 2021, we're seeing slightly more Americans planning to make New Year's resolutions. This is driven by significant increases in resolution-making among Women and Boomers. (Since we see no real change among men or younger generations, presumably Boomer Women are the largest group adopting resolutions at a higher rate this year -- something to note if they're your target audience!)

In terms of what people are resolving to do, to no surprise, exercising more continues to rank No. 1. Saving more money has fallen from No. 2 to No. 3, while losing weight has increased significantly to take the No. 2 spot.

I guess the "quarantine 15" really is the new "freshman 15."

This year's increase in weight loss aspirations is driven predominantly by Men (+57%), Millennials (+32%) and Gen X (+36%). Men and younger generations had focused last year on exercise over losing weight, whereas Women and Boomers had a dual goal of exercise and weight loss last year that carried into this year as well.

Interestingly, most other resolutions are down. Fewer people are aspiring to spend more time with family -- perhaps working from home, remote schooling and the cancelling of most non-family social engagements has already given us the extra time with family that we previously wanted? Learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby is down significantly -- perhaps we have already accomplished it this year as we filled the time we previously spent out and about ... or is the burnout real and we're so overwhelmed with increased cooking, childcare, etc. that we simply can't imagine adding anything else right now? Drinking less alcohol, while not a dominant resolution, has nearly fallen off the leader-board -- limitations on on-premises consumption and social gatherings likely helped people accomplish this goal.

As marketers think about what consumers want for themselves in 2021, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that amidst a global pandemic, the basics of health and wellness loom largest on consumers' minds. Being largely home-bound for the better part of the past year had reduced our activity levels and changed our eating habits, and brands who can deliver on exercise and weight loss have an opportunity to lean into new year's resolutions and help consumers accomplish their exercise and weight loss goals.

"New year, new you" messaging around making time for family and starting new hobbies should perhaps wait until vaccine distribution ramps up and allows us to resume something more like our pre-pandemic lifestyle. It seems like we're back to basics for now, focusing first on improving the health of our bodies.

It's a challenging time for marketers, but up-to-date data is available and helps a lot. Contact me if you're interested in seeing this data, and more, broken out for your specific target audiences, brands, etc. I'm here to strategize and help.

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