trendSCAN - August 2020

trendSCAN August 2020


In this version:

  • Takeaways
  • Did You Know?
  • Signs of the Times
  • The Heat is On – Trust for Public Lands
  • Parks and Happiness
  • Wunderman Thompson Intelligence (More Updates #16-25)
  • Experience Enablers The Latest in the Experience Market
  • Here come the Zennials
  • Anyplace but Home
  • Predicting the COVID Behavioral Consumer Reset
  • Alcohol on the Go




Takeaways, a set of quick comments or questions as to how a particular trend or innovation potentially impacts parks and recreation.  It is featured right at the beginning of every trendSCAN so that readers and innovators can quickly identify trends and ideas and then move on to added insight identified in the body of information. 

Just a few strategies and examples to help alleviate the impact of the pandemic:

Experience Enablers. Help people to experience actions and activities that they miss during this time or perhaps always wanted to do.  Conjure up ideas and ways you can create concerts, movies, cooling off experiences, etc. for residents; all things they may not be able to make happen for themselves. In Wellington, FL, they are facilitating two food trucks a night in various parks throughout the community complete with socially distanced picnic tables.

Park in a Truck. This concept is actually one being used successfully in Philadelphia that was cited in previous issues of The original concept focuses upon neighbors generating the plan for their small parks and then helping to install them quickly and inexpensively.  In this instance, the strategy is to take benches and simple play pieces to create spaces where people can sit, relax, socialize, and even cool off.  The actual “Park in a Truck” concept is an important process that departments should initiate once the summer and the pandemic are over.

Open Up Everything. In recent times, there have been disagreements or misunderstandings between public park and recreation department and private providers of services that lend themselves to the out-of-doors.  The original conversation related to whether or not private sources should be allowed to generate income on public property.   Take a page out of the playbook of a number of communities including an ordinance in San Jose, CA that opens up public spaces to help individual or small businesses remain solvent and serve residents at the same time.  The department in Roanoke, VA has placed socially distanced picnic tables in public areas complete with free Wi-Fi access to support students pursuing distance learning without the tech support in their homes.

Going to Where They Are. Do you have games, craft materials, and assorted other equipment you can take out to even the smallest parks or open spaces?  Imagine what a spray hose for the kids would result in?  People are either unable or uncomfortable moving too far away from where they live so anything you can do would be much appreciated.  Some of those great on-line activities that departments have been offering would be great as well.  Use the pandemic restrictions mandated by your community.

Take A Break to Think and Plan. It is not likely we will have a cabin in a woods and two weeks of a Bill Gates’ retreat, but it is important for an agency to take at least a full day – not answering the phones or emails – and consider where to go in our new normal.  When we spend so much time responding to problems and issues, it often does not afford time to construct a more comprehensive plan for the tomorrows.


Did You Know?

Soaring Grocery Prices.  According to the Washington Post, groceries have risen to their highest level in a decade; beef is up 25.1%;  eggs up 12.1%; and pork up 11.8%.

Disney Bets on Streaming.  Rather than wait to release its latest blockbuster in movie theaters, Disney has decided to release its new version of Mulan via streaming as a way to continue to generate additional  revenue.  Please Note:  This will be available only to those who subscribe to  the Disney Premium channel who will then pay an additional $29.99 to view the movie.

Demographics of Telework.  Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrates how the pandemic's forced work-from-home phenomenon differs by education levels, race and gender. By the numbers: Looking at the latest available figures from June:

  • More educated workers were more likely to have teleworked because of the pandemic; only 5% of workers with less than a high school diploma worked from home versus 54% of workers with a college degree or higher.
  • Women were more likely (36%) than men (27%) to have worked from home because of the pandemic.
  • 49% of Asian people teleworked because of the pandemic; higher than the proportion of white people (31%), Black people (26%), and Hispanics (21%).

Parks and Happiness.  The University of Vermont reviewed twitter messages and analyzed messages both before and during the pandemic.  The happiness level of Americans has decreased during the pandemic (no surprise there) while references to parks and open spaces during this same time period have been associated with happiness. 

Bill Gates Seven Day Retreats.  Several years ago, Gates, the principal founder and chairman of Microsoft Corporation, came up with the idea for his personal seven-day retreat as a way to ponder the future of technology and think of new ideas for his company. He cuts himself off from family, friends, and employees in a cabin he owns in the Pacific Northwest The seven days tend to include a lot of reading, a lot of thinking, and a lot of alone time, as Gates is completely disconnected from family members, friends, and employees. (Axios)

Businesses Access to Parks and Public Plazas.  The City of San Jose, CA voted to allow fitness classes, restaurants, and other eligible businesses to use parks and open spaces for their activities. (NRPA Smart Brief)

Alcohol Consumption. Nielsen reports that sale of alcoholic beverages has increased 27% since the start of the pandemic.

Dodger Stadium as Voting Venue. Dodger Stadium will be opened and operating as a voter venue for five days before the November elections allowing any registered voter in LA County to cast their vote there.  Parking will be free.  This was an effort of some athletes including LeBron James, Patrick Mahones, and others.  (Associated Press)


Signs of the Times

Gone Forever?  Some jobs may be gone forever as one-third of bars, one-fifth of restaurants, and 12% of retailers in the United States have closed for good.  (Associated Press)

Net Generation.  A member of Project Play 2020, the U.S. Tennis Association launched a new campaign with guidelines for safely returning to tennis, or for trying the sport for the first time. Net Generation, its youth community program, held a Virtual Summer Camp this summer with USA Football, US Soccer, USA Figure Skating, USA Baseball, and the PGA of America.

Fall Mega-Events.  The Kentucky Derby will go off on 9/5/2020.  Originally, the plan was to have 23,000 fans in the stands which represents 14% of its capacity but the rules have changed and there will be no fans at all.    The Masters is scheduled for November 12 and will go off with no fans as well.  (Axios)

 NFL 2020.   Players and staff are wearing a smartwatch-like device that produces audible sounds and visual warnings to help optimize social distancing. They also keep employees not required to interact with players apart from those who must. The tracker can provide instant reports for contact tracing in case of a positive test. The devices are worn during practice and turned in at the end of the day. (Associated Press)

No More Newsrooms.  Beset with financial pressure, media companies are giving up on their downtown newsrooms for more permanent work-from-home approaches.  Tribune Publishing announced it was shuttering its main newsrooms for five papers, including The New York Daily News, The Orlando Sentinel, and The Capital Gazette. Condé Nast is considering downsizing from its headquarters at One World Trade Center. This move after having signed a 35-year lease for 21 floors in 2014.  (Axios)

Critically Important Election.  During the past two decades, Pew has used multiple indicators to gauge voters’ interest and intensity as the presidential election approaches. Here are some key findings: Before the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, just 50% of the voters thought that it really mattered who won, versus 44% who thought that things would be pretty much the same, whoever won. This year, a record 83% including 85% of Democrats, 86% of Republicans say that it really matters who is elected.

NBA Three Pointer.  NBA players experience a three- point testing approach for COVID 19. The more common methods of testing have been augmented by a saliva test called SalivaDirect developed at the Yale School of Public Health.  Spitting into a tube costs about $20.  This spring Yale partnered with the NBA on this project and the league and players’ union donated $500,000 to support the method. (Axios)


The Heat is On – Trust for Public Lands

Leave it to the Trust for Public Lands  (TPL) to release significant reports on parks and usually at a particularly appropriate time.  The release this August is titled, "The Heat is On” and the report consists of basically three sections: 

  1. information of the extreme heat being experienced across the country over the last few years
  2. role of parks and natural space upon the cooler temperatures
  3. and the lack of equity to park space on the basic of ethnic and economic circumstances.

This year the impact of the pandemic puts additional pressure for cooling off  in a time of pandemic leading many park systems to close beaches and cooling centers on especially hot days for fear that over-crowding will leave to more people infected with the virus.  It is difficult to social distance in many the spaces and places overseen by park systems. With many of the reduced financial circumstances being experienced by people during the pandemic, the cost of purchasing or operating fans and air conditioning is prohibitive.

This report makes the case for nearby access for all people to parks and natural areas.  The twelve-page report is particularly compelling and includes a number of revealing statistics including:

  • In a study of 14,000 cities and towns in the United States, the TPL found that areas within a walking distance of 10 minutes to residents experienced temperatures 6 degrees cooler
  • Parks serving predominantly non-white neighborhoods are ½ the size of parks in white majority neighborhoods and are 5 times more crowded
  • Parks serving lower income neighborhoods are 4 times smaller on average than more well-off neighborhoods and are four times more crowded

The article goes on to include many more examples and statistics related to parks, equity, and impact of trees upon cooling.  This is definitely an article worth downloading.

Source:  The Heat is On.


Parks and Happiness

COVID-19 has led to the deepest and longest period of malaise in the United States in decades. The Vermont Complex Systems Center studied 50 million tweets a day, scoring the “happiness” of people’s words to monitor the national mood.

Before pandemic lockdowns began, a doctoral student compared tweets before, during, and after visits to 150 parks, playgrounds and plazas in San Francisco. He found that park visits

  • corresponded with a spike in happiness, followed by an afterglow lasting up to four hours.
  • Tweets from parks contained fewer negative words such as “no,” “not” and “can’t,” and fewer first-person pronouns like “I” and “me.”; nature makes people more positive and less self-obsessed.
  • Twitter records show that parks increase happiness to a level similar to the bounce experienced at Christmas, which typically is the happiest day of the year.

A more thorough description of this research is available at  This website positions itself as academic rigor with journalistic flair.

A quote from this article:

As scholars who study conservation and how nature contributes to human well-being, we see opening up parks and creating new ones as a straightforward remedy for Americans’ current blues.     

Study from Vermont Complex Systems reported on

Source:  the


Wunderman Thompson Intelligence Updated Trends (continued  #16 - #25)

If you checked the July 2020 version of trendSCAN, you likely recall seeing the first fifteen updated trends provided by Wunderman Thompson Intelligence.  This long-time intelligence and trends research organization formerly known as JWT has long been offering Trends 100 for each new year.  This year due to the overwhelming nature of the virus and its impact upon just about everything they have elected to supplement the 100 list with an additional list of 25.  The first fifteen were listed in June’s trendSCAN.

Now you can view the remaining 10 trends included in that list of twenty-five.  These trends incorporate the relationship between consumers and providers.

Here are the remaining trends on their list.

  1. Wellness Architecture. The built environment has been on the minds of many landscape architecture lately which has been a great boon for more walkable and healthy neighborhoods.  Now the shift is on to the built environment referring to buildings as architects are currently designing gathering spaces and places to secure safe, social distancing among other health-oriented changes.  In Rotterdam, there is a 16 square grid that has been created for social distancing in local markets.
  2. Digital Spas. Few things require up close and personal contact as do spa treatments.  Think massages and facials.  Many hotel spas have been working on virtual spas as they feature on-line spiritual services such as meditation, recipes for spa treatments, and even flower arranging classes.
  3. Engineered Companions. More people world-wide live alone and of course, there is the ever-growing group of elderly who fall into that category.  Technology comes to the rescue with all types of new applications.  In Belgium, they have developed “SARA”-Social and Automated Robotic Health Companion.  Can’t be totally alone if you have SARA.
  4. New Payment Gestures. Another bit of technology that the CoronaVirus has hastened is virtual money.  People want to avoid touching physical currency and handling of credit cards and so frictionless payment methods are becoming very commonplace.  These payment methods have been used for some time, particularly in China.
  5. GenZ’s Finances. This generational group came of age in the 2008 recession and were just getting their career and finances in shape when the virus hit.  This recession has no definitive end in sight leaving 18 to 24-year olds feeling 10 times more anxious than adults in general.
  6. Standards for Ads. Special events and sporting events are largely gone as are locations for companies to advertise.  Holiday celebrations will or are being greatly reduced in size and scope.  Even as the virus recedes, it is unlikely life as we know it will return completely.  So ads will feature less “touch” features and search for ways to reach people in their safe places and spaces.
  7. Gaming Multipliers Being locked in makes gaming much more popular and versatile as well.  People are gaming for challenge, mental stimulation stress relief, relaxation, and companionships both within and outside of the home.  One game, Nintendo’s  Animal Crossing:  New Horizon was released with perfect timing on March 20, 2020.  This games transports players to a living island where they live, and participants  nurture the environment via simple acts such as picking fruit or befriending the natives.
  1. New Dining Formats. People want to feel secure while eating out of the home but are not particularly enchanted with tape on tables and cardboard divisions.  A vegetarian restaurant in Amsterdam might be on to something as they created small greenhouse-looking dining spaces for two people where people can see both inside and outside.  Buffet restaurants have disappeared in large numbers with the exception of those who modified their services to provide distance product handling where people order what they want from the buffet as waiters fix the plates for them (gloved, of course) and bring the food to their tables.
  2. Renewed Faith. Google search set all kinds of new records for searches for “god” in March.  In a similar manner, other search engines reported similar searches for prayer, God, Allah, etc.  Pew Research Centers reported that more than one-half of American adults have prayed to end the pandemic.
  3. Gamescape Travel. People resent not being able to travel and experience new places and customs.  There are a number of travel companies particular the upscale ones  and high-end hotels who are providing virtual options for these types of travelers.  Even Airbnb has gotten into the act with a product called Online Experiences where via zoom you can meditate with monks in Japan, taking cooking classes in Italy, visit dogs in Chernobyl and a visit with a Moroccan family.


The Latest in the Experience Market – Experience Enablers

 The latest trend in luxury services is the experience enablers.  Experience enablers offer private format leisure and seemingly non-essential services.  People so want to connect with the activities that they had to leave behind due to COVID.

Here are some examples

  • Gymguyz, a Plainview, New York-based personal training company, got right on the pandemic changes by offering distanced personal training sessions in home and yards. These services are not inexpensive as the mobile fitness concept brings state of the art equipment and expert coaching right to a person’s front door.  Cost is between $70 and $100 per session.  And this company has signed 17 new franchise deals in the United States in the first half of 2020.
  • For those looking for some rest and relaxation, on-demand pampering services bring the spa home. MySpa2Go sends manicurists and masseuses to customers’ homes. The mobile salon has seen a recent surge in business in wealthy vacation enclaves like Nantucket and the Hamptons as demand for the company’s services quadrupled after the pandemic hit.
  • Shortcut is a men’s barber service that let clients book for an at-home trim. The company operates in 25 cities across the United States including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Boston and has experienced a 600% growth in business.
  • Swimply is the Airbnb of private pools. The company connects pool owners with those looking to cool off in the heat of summer to rent backyard pools for $45 to $60 per hour. In May 2020, the company announced that will be launching Joyspace, a new platform with a similar business model that will let customers rent private spaces beyond pools, like tennis and basketball courts, home gyms, backyards and private boats, on an hourly basis.
  • For those tired of watching movies on their couches, movie theaters are letting viewers rent out the entire theatre for private viewings. Moviehouse & Eatery, a luxury theater chain in Texas, is making its auditoriums available for $350 per showing, while at a small independent movie theatre in Zephyrhills, Florida, movie fans can view classic films like Back to the Future, Jurassic Parkand Jaws in a theatre there on a rental basis as well.

Activities like going to the movies, getting a manicure or working out which were once relatively accessible, commonplace pastimes among the middle class are increasingly becoming a luxury available only to those willing and able to pay a premium. As long as crowds continue to pose health dangers, and with many people still wary of public spaces, these exclusive ‘experience enablers’ are transforming everyday experiences into an elite privilege.

Source:  AboutServicesTrendReport


Here come the Zennials

Demographics usually focuses upon defined groups of people across a 15-year time span with similar attitudes and behaviors. But in a period of tech-celleration and rapid innovation, 15-year spans may no longer be adequate when it comes down to accurate labelling.

Make way for micro-generations.  Micro-generations are found at the end of each cohort group. These are typically smaller groups born in bursts of time that extend only six years. 

Today’s micro-generations is the Zennials.  The Zennials straddle two demographics  the Millennials and Gen Z and typically embody characteristics of both generations. WGSN refers to these types of groups as fringe or cusps as well as micro-generations. 

The following information conducted by WGSN includes findings in a quantitative survey of 1,395 Zennials via Instagram polls and a focus group of 100 members of this micro-generation.  Zennials represent a cluster of consumers with blended expectations.

Zennials are considered to be one of the luckiest cohorts. They were born too late to be impacted by the economic hardship of the late 1980s and despite being too old to be deemed a digital-first group, they quickly caught up with technology and also share that same optimism common to Millennials, proving just how unique this group is compared to other demographic groups.

Why the differences? There is a difference between having knowledge of a major event and having that event directly impact your livelihood and safety. For example, when asked to define a cultural or societal moment that shaped their outlook on life, most Zennials pointed to the global financial crisis of 2008.

The eldest Zennial was just 16 (the youngest aged 10), so most could not comprehend how the crisis would impact their futures. They may have seen it effect their parents or siblings, but Zennials were too young to have it alter their own finances or job prospects. What this crisis did do is instill fear in Zennials, which we know is an emotion that is a demographic unifier. They came of age bearing witness to the impact the crisis had on older counterparts. While the economy recovered by the time they left school, Zennials knew it could happen again.

As the world again braces for another recession, Zennials fear the impact will leave them disadvantaged for years.

Source:  WGSN


Anyplace but Home

In June, Pinterest searches for… 

  • “Vacation spots” surged 260% over last year
  • “Airplane essentials” jumped by 170+%
  • “National parks” rose by 60%
  • “Lake weekend” went up by 41%  

Brands recently took to the platform to create all kinds of content for stir crazy Pinteresters, from local getaway to a virtual version of Disney. 

Will interest continue? “Stretch season” (aka extended summer travel through fall) is about to get into full swing, per MMGY Global research published in August.  

  • After being cooped up since March, 54% of U.S. travelers said they're more likely to travel this fall than last.
  • And 64% expect to take a “leisure trip” within the next six months.
  • As of June, U.S. 2020 travel industry revenues were set to plummet by $500 billionyear over year.  Maybe "stretch season" travel can mitigate that.

Bottom line: With warm weather on its way out, content creation from travel brands on Pinterest has accelerated in an effort to stay relevant and on pace with search traffic.

Source:  Marketing Brew



Predicting the COVID Behavioral Consumer Resets

The news cycle is no longer driving consumer behavior.  With the onset of COVID and the media coverage sales of hand sanitizers, it is the pandemic that drove our news.

In addition to keeping us informed, the news media can often inspire quick, sometimes targeted, behavior shifts, especially in times of crisis. But in today’s prolonged timeline of crisis, there are other factors driving consumer behavior transformation.

The news cycle about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the first quarter of this year sparked global purchase shifts that were clearly tied to what was being reported in the news. Sales of hand sanitizers, food staples, and cleaning products skyrocketed in step with news reports related to the spreading virus. But over time, the correlation has faded, and consumers have, in many cases, stopped responding to the news cycle with their wallets.

In studying this shift in behavior, the Nielsen Intelligence Unit has identified four emerging patterns that can help predict the drivers of pandemic purchase decisions moving forward: a basket reset, a homebody reset, a rationale reset and an affordability reset. All four are underpinned by  the four emerging patterns include the following:

  • Basket Reset.  Originally households purchased large amount of basic supplies, sanitary products, canned foods, etc. and now they are downsizing the list of those items they deem as essential. 
    • The list of exactly what products and goods are considered essential will shrink in size also
  • Homebody Reset.  The desire to remain safe within their own homes has led these households to pursue a “Do It Yourself” direction as they purchase products and kits that can take care of their basic needs within the confines of the house.
    • Continue to see emphasis upon baking at home, coloring one’s hair at home, as well as pet grooming supplies. Hardware stores are experiencing good sales with people taking on household projects.
  • Rationale Reset.  This is the closest thing to a luxury market as these consumers are making purchases to attempt to make up for the lack of access to travel and entertainment. 
    • Cruise companies have reported not having difficulty booking cruises for 2021 as this group of consumers does not want to miss out on travel and entertainment after a vaccine is found. Some premium breads and liquors have seen a surge in purchasing as well.
  • Affordability Reset. This naturally refers to the impact of reduced income and the tendency to purchase almost entirely on price.  Continued reduced financial resources will drive this group almost entirely.

Source:  Nielsen


Alcohol on the Go

At least 33 states and Washington, D.C., now allow cocktails ‘to-go’ because of the pandemic resulting in the closing of bars.  Only Florida and Mississippi allowed for that previously. Starting in March, local and state lawmakers relaxed rules on carryout alcoholic drinks to give restaurants and bars a lifeline after they were forced to close indoor seating areas.

Did it work? One survey from May found that 78% of restaurants and bars selling booze ‘to-go’ brought back laid off employees, higher than the 62% overall rate.

Despite the economic benefit, lawmakers are trying to make sure Main Street doesn’t turn into Bourbon Street. Officials in many areas mandated lids/seals on the drinks and require that food be purchased with drinks, among other regulations.

What’s To Come?  Each jurisdiction has its own timeline for when these regulations end or not. Iowa has extended its ‘to-go’ cocktail rules permanently, and other states could follow. 


trendSCAN is created by Dr. Ellen O’Sullivan for the California Park & Recreation Society.  Ellen welcomes your comments, questions, and feedback and can be reached at