trendSCAN - July 2020

trendSCAN July 2020


In this version:

  • On the Lighter Side
  • Did You Know?
  • Signs of the Times
  • Wunderman Thompson Intelligence Updated Trends
  • Changing Financial Patterns due to COVID
  • Child Care – A Challenge for the Economy
  • Building a Future Proof Brand with PFSK
  • Parent Pods
  • Takeways




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. 

Great, Support Graphics.  Be sure to go to  The two downloadables, one for the benefits of physically active communities and the second for the benefits of youth sports across age groups are excellent.  Make good use of them. (Great Supportive Graphics)

Two Choices:  Crowded or Isolated. Demographic shifts in household composition was already underway but the pandemic has resulted in the increased number of multiple generation households and the growing vigilance needed for households with only one person.  One group may require programs and services for all ages OR opportunities for some isolated time while the other group is virtually on an island of their own and needs help creating connections to other humans.(Two Types of Households)

Drive-Ins – Social Distancing at its Best.  Public parks and recreation is well positioned for social distancing in many instances.  We have space – open space that can be marked off for social distancing and parking spaces that can serve the same purpose.  You may want to do so through pre-registration or first come-first serve and there are few reasons why if demand is high enough you can’t offer these opportunities on multiple nights.

Modified Youth Sports and Games.  It probably won’t work for youth playing on well-manicured fields in professional-like uniforms, but there are plenty of sports and games that can offer physical activity and friendly competition if rules and playing spaces are modified.  Think kickball with the regular four bases or adding in a few more where the runner can not leave his or her base before the runner ahead of them does.  There may need to be a few more changes but we are only limited by our imaginations.  OR let kids be their creative and devise the rules and spaces for themselves.

Highlight the Good Stuff.  Our websites are chocked full of announcements as to when our facilities may reopen and what protective measures need to be taken.  People will be uplifted if they can see other people playing and/or enjoying themselves in your parks or open community spaces.  Be sure to highlight these. (Wunderman Thompson Intelligence – Optimistic Futures)

The Return of Nature.  Has wildlife returned to some of your parks and even neighborhood spaces? People of all ages love to see animals close to them (not skunks, porcupines, bears, etc.).  It is a good time feel and is also an opportunity to remind people as to their impact upon the environment. (Wunderman Thompson Intelligence – Legacy Preservation)

Less May Be More.  People of all ages, even Millennials, express their yearning for the old days when play was simpler and more organic not that the Millennials actually experienced life in the late 50s and early 60s but they somehow pine for them.  Reframe your programs and activities so they are “less”- less equipment, fewer rules, and more freedom from direct supervision. (Wunderman Thompson Intelligence – Legacy Preservation)

Facilitate Parent Pods.  Check out the very last trend featured on the last page of this trendSCAN about parent pods, a great resource for families who can afford it and brainstorm ways you can help make this happen for families with fewer resources.  After all you may have some excess space this year.


On the Lighter Side

There just have to be some lighter, more upbeat trends associated with our current times so take a look at these examples:

Rooftop Culture.  Hanging out with friends on rooftops is pleasant social distancing for city dwellers.  A so-called “rooftop culture” has been around as long as apartments have been tiny, which describes so many of them.  They’re also a more democratic outdoor space since ‘people on the roof’ may not likely to be able to afford yards and patios in their neighborhoods.  Chicago allows rooftop restaurants across the street from Wrigley Field to reopen at 25% capacity. People can dine and watch a baseball game but that will likely be at a premium price.

Cut Out Fans.  There isn’t going to be anyone in the baseball stadium seats but that doesn’t mean they will be empty.  Cut-outs are not exactly a new idea as witnessed by baseball in Japan and China and soccer in Germany, but it is a lighter side of the pandemic.  The Milwaukee Brewers sold out their initial 500 seat offering in 90 minutes, so they added another 500 seats and they plan on offering a “pets in the park” feature as well.  The San Francisco Giants are offering cutouts as well as the chance to sit beside a cutout of Joe Montana or Tony Bennet.  The effort by the Oakland As will be a charity fundraiser for ALS.  Some teams are offering the cutouts free to their season ticket holders and prices can vary in some instances based upon the location of your seat in the stands. (Associated Press)

New Team for LA.  The National Women’s Soccer League has announced there will be a new women’s team in Los Angeles.  The team is tentatively named “Angel City”


Did You Know?

Great, Supportive Graphics.  Project Play of the Aspen Institute, a group dedicated to supporting a new version of youth sports, held a National Youth Sports Week.  As part of the celebration they created downloadable version for the benefits of both youth sports and physical active communities (  Worth checking out and using.

Bikes on the Move.  According the NPD, a consumer research firm, sales of bikes, helmets, and other accessories for bikes was $1 billion as of April of this year.  That’s nearly double the usual sales.  The investments at the local, state, and federal level have really paid off with cities that are more bikeable and additional trails across the country.

Two Types of Households.  Last year, the Pew Institute for Research indicated that for the first time in 160 years that the number of people living in one household increased and the influence of the pandemic has only added to that trend by an additional 10%.  At the other end of the spectrum there are about 36 million people living in a household alone and that represents 28% of the household groupings.  (The New York Times)

Back Yard Play on a Bounce.  What are parents to do when their children are stuck in the house?  Well, those fortunate enough to have a yard bring play to their kids as an ever-growing number of households are buying playsets, trampolines, and play houses for home use.  In May of 2019, sales of outdoor play equipment were $78 million, and this the number has jumped to $97 million, an increase of 24% at the point in 2020.  (NPD)


Signs of the Times

No Fans in the Stands.  When Major League Baseball returns there will be no fans in the stands.  That is with the exception of the stadiums with rooftop views and hotel rooms overlooking the ball parks.  (Axios Sports)

Oakland As Season Ticket Holders.  Individuals opting to purchase season tickets for the Oakland As home baseball games will be in for a really great picture but it will be of themselves.  Season ticket holders will be photographed and cut outs of these fans will be seated and able to be viewed for these games. 

The Walmart Drive-In.  Walmart is partnering with Tribeca Industries to turn 160 of its parking lots into drive-in movie theaters.

Dashed Hopes for Sports?  Sports at every level, pro, college and even youth sports may not return to normal what with the rapid upswing in the pandemic.

State and Local Job Cuts Will Abound.  Joshua Franzel, president of the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, attributes the cuts to two factors: pandemic-related closures and officials bracing for budget shortfalls, a scenario few anticipated when the year began. Already, Santa Monica, California, for example, has eliminated 337 positions and 144 temporary jobs as part of a broad restructuring in anticipation of a 23% budget reduction.

Kevin McCarthy’s Campaign WHOOPs It Up.  To get back on the campaign trail this summer and fall, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy from California is using dozens of WHOOP fitness trackers to monitor his respiratory rate and that of his staff as a clue to COVID.  This will help monitor the Congressman  as he will be traveling the country to raise money for fall campaigns.


Wunderman Thompson Intelligence Updated Trends

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 trends incorporate the relationship between consumers and a wide variety of providers.

Here is an overview of this list of 25 as follows:

  1. Optimistic Futures.  People everywhere are seeking good and positive news and this tendency is reportedly at a five year high.  Some Good News was launched on YouTube for just this reason and was readily adopted and by May had 17 million views.  News reports are filled with less than great news but usually close with a “feel good” story of some kind usually how people are persevering or helping others through this tough time.

Doritos, a brand with a target market of younger people, launched Doritos Valedictorians to enable the graduating class of 2020 to hear a shorter version of their valedictorians’ message to them.  iHeartMedia has Commencement Speeches for the Class of 2020 that featured the insight from a number of famous people.

  1. Taming Tech’s Influence.  As if tech and social media were not mainstays of our lives before COVID, it has now overtaken the lives of many.  This leads to mountains of misinformation and a fight against what this organization refers to as an “infodemic” which means information accurate and otherwise is just overwhelming people.  This is not a good approach during a crisis like COVID that requires truthful and accurate information.
  2. Protective Tech for Everyone.  Most all aspects of manufacturing and development is responding to the call for greater protection even in major purchases.  People want air conditions in houses and cars to have a germ filter in the air conditioner.  Tesla has arranged for contactless test drives.  The demand for houses that are both comfortable and protective.  There is even a microshell suit being designed to cover one completely in a lightweight manner.
  3. New Digital Communities. According to The National Research Group, 88% of Americans would like an improved role of technology in helping them to maintain and create social and cultural connections.  COVID Club launched in March is now a venue for music and quarantine crowding.  People are looking for ways to replicate everyday spaces, i.e. bars, concerts, trips, etc.
  4. Privacy Era. The additional use and preferences for social media has led to increasing concerns about privacy.  Apple and Google are teaming up to create a tracking mechanism to identify the movements of COVID carriers.  Facebook is sharing location data for this same purpose.  Some pundits warn that it is a slippery slope.
  5. Legacy Preservation. The lack of tourism especially has led to a resurgence of some of our natural treasures and inhabitants.  Turtles are hatching in record numbers.  Dolphins are seen in South Africa frolicking in less crowded water spaces.  This is an opportunity to move to what this organization calls “intelligent tourism”.  Even Venice, Italy a city totally over-run with tourists to the point there are few people actually living there is taking this opportunity to take their city back and create a balance between residing and touring.
  6. Disaster-Proof Destiny. Whether it is freakish weather patterns, desire for less dense communities or the distance from likely red zones of pandemics, people are searching out safe places to live or relocate.  Included within this trend are the preference for building bunker-like shelters as some of the survivalists have been doing for a while now.  Living off the grid is another preference as well.
  7. New Super Creativity. The original list of Trends 2020 identified teens as being the hub of creativity due to their access to Instagram, SnapChat, and TikTok, but the virus with its accompanying quarantine has created a scenario where everybody can be creative.  At Apple, they instituted a free streaming site, At Apple Today, where Apple experts teach people how to up their creative efforts through graphics, video, and photographs.  Digital has gone mainstream.
  8. Unconventional Brand Actions. Consumers today more than ever with the virus are looking for companies to step in and fill the void left by governments.  For example, perfume and liquor companies producing hand sanitizers, large pharmaceutical companies joining together to look for a virus vaccine, General Motors manufacturing respirators.   Did They Help? is a newly formed website that specifies individuals and corporations into two different groups that divides them based upon their actions/reactions to the virus.  Those two categories are Heroes and Zeroes. 
  9. Future Proof Ingredients. Did you notice initially how supermarkets were sold out of food items that were canned.  If they are canned, they are always at the ready when you most need them.  Frozen foods have seen a surge as well especially as they can replace preferred items such as smoothies and meals served in restaurants or fast food stands.
  10. Regenerative Agriculture. The awareness of intricate, global food sourcing came front and center as shortages enlightened people to where their food came from.  The movement from farm to table was already popular in some areas but now people are looking to reduce the miles and handling and are searching for sources from “farm to fork”. 
  11. Skincare. Can’t go to department stores or fancy spas for personalized skin care and makeup sessions?  Not a problem.  Make way for personalized clinicians to connect with you in the comfort of your home.  You can purchase products that try to replace some of the procedures of spa treatments, and you can even purchase sanitizer products that are customized for your skin type.
  12. Anti-excess Consumers. People now think twice or even more when they make purchases.  They are concerned with finances and impact upon the planet. The other questions that comes into play under this category is “what is essential?”  as the definition of that term has changed. Reebok has partnered with ThredUp, a clothing resale site for rewards for people who are mindful consumers. 
  13. The New Superstores. When did the corner drug store turn into a hardware store and when did restaurants become grocery stores?  There are even pop-up markets where people can experience one stop shopping right on the block.  Some people have even been buying into farm shares as alternative ways to secure food and paper goods have taken over.
  14. Health Concierges. Companies across the globe are now assuming the role for health protection.  Amazon had created testing laboratories for their employees.  The National Basketball League is employing high tech, titanium rings for their players that measure pulse, breathing rate, and temperature in order to detect the possible onset of COVID 19 before it is full blown.

Had Enough?  We Thought So.  Look for the Remaining 10 trends created by Wunderman Thompson Intelligence in the August version of trendSCAN.


Changing Financial Patterns due to COVID

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown millions of Americans into chaos, negatively affecting financial well-being alongside physical and mental health. A new NerdWallet survey conducted online by The Harris Poll to determine how the virus was affecting their financial patterns. 

Among the findings:

  • almost half of Americans (48%) are indeed feeling less confident about their personal finances
  • Income impact: Close to 7 in 10 Americans (69%) say their household income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19, including 80% each of millennials (ages 24-39) and Gen Zers (ages 18-23).
  • Stimulus saving: More than one-third of Americans (36%) plan to use/have used their stimulus check to save and/or invest; the same proportion (36%) say they’re using it to pay for necessities.
  • Homebuying worries: About three-quarters of Americans (73%) say they’d have concerns about buying a home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the top concern is the ability to safely tour potential homes (34%), followed by the ability to sell their current home (27%).
  • Post-pandemic plans: Three-quarters of Americans (75%) plan to take financial action after the pandemic ends, such as saving more in their emergency fund (38%) and spending less on nonessentials (37%).
  • Around half of Gen Zers (50%) and millennials (52%) are saving more than they were before compared with 39% of Gen Xers (ages 40-55) and 29% of baby boomers (ages 56-74) who are saving more.
  • Close to half of Americans (48%) report spending less now than they were pre-pandemic, and 36% have changed how much they’re investing.
  • While plenty of Americans are spending less, many are also spending differently under the circumstances. Close to 2 in 5 Americans (37%) say they’ve made more of an effort to support local businesses and 35% report tipping more for takeout and delivery of restaurant food and groceries.
  • Almost all Americans (94%) report spending less money on certain expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 3 in 5 each say they’re spending less on shopping (63%), restaurant food (62%) and transportation (62%). Over half (56%) are spending less on entertainment and 45% have cut back on personal care spending.



Child Care – A Challenge for the Economy

The reporting of childcare centers going out of business across the country has been noted lately during the shutdowns of the pandemic.  Now that the economy is beginning to reopen, the focus on both schools and childcare has come front and center. What does it have to do with the economy? 

Parents with minor children make up almost one-third of the country’s workforce. If we are to hope for an economic recovery of any time, such recovery will depend upon whether these parents are  going back to work or re-entering the work force will depend upon schools and childcare.

If we hope to make headway towards a recovering economy, we need parents back in the work force. The status of schools and childcare programs in the fall will dictate the ability of working parents to fully return to work, and therefore will also largely dictate the speed and robustness of economic recovery.

  • In 2018, more than 41 million American workers ages 18 to 64 were caring for at least one child under the age of 18. Of the 41 million, nearly 34 million have at least one child under the age of 14. This results in increased dependence upon schools and childcare.
  • Thirty percent of parents with young children have a caregiver at home. This is usually a  family adult who is either out of the labor force or working less than half time.
  • Seventy percent, 23.5 million parents, do not have any potential caregivers, and their return to work will likely be dependent on the reopening of childcare programs and schools.
  • Working parents who rely on childcare and school not only comprise a substantial share of the overall U.S. workforce, but also work disproportionately in fields such as education, health care, social assistance, finance, insurance, public administration, management, and professional services. In these industries, at least one in five workers depends on childcare and schools.

We probably did not give it much thought previously.  Who considered the strong correlation between childcare and the economy?

Source:  Brookings


Building a Future Proof Brand with PFSK

The following digital strategies were taken from the PSFK's DTC Playbook 2020.  That was pre-COVID, but these strategies are intended to work well in our current situation.  While 2020 was thought to be a milestone year, we had no idea as to just how memorable it would become and PFSK particularly notes the transformative nature upon retail.

This list of seven digital-first strategies are designed to meet consumers needs for safety and reassurance, hyper-personalized and hyper-local curation and include the following:

  • Pre-Visit Planning. One way to address people’s fears is to clearly spell out what your policies and practices are to allay those concerns.  Continue to check in with your customers to determine how you could redesign the shopping experience to make them more comfortable.  Home retailer West Elm  offers in-store and virtual appointments readily accessible and bookable on their website.
  • Audience Amplification. People are relishing their newfound creativity during this down time.  Consumer friendly brands are empowering consumer-creators to lend their work to be showcased on social media.  Fashion designer Alexander McQueen asked followers stuck at home to redesign his famous Rose dress and has 136,000 within one month.
  • Remote Coaching. The curbside pickup for customers is all well and good but what happens when they get their new purchase home and need advice as to how to put it together or use it.  How do you provide customer support from a distance?  Customers face high engagement options after they make a purchase and bring their products home. Home improvement company, Lowes, provides video consultation.  These consultations help people make home repairs and results in stronger connections with customers. 
  • On-Demand Assistance. There are plenty of alternatives to provide on-demand assistance to deal with those “I need an answer now” situations.  Using video, phone, and chat platforms are the answer to this void created by lack of instore assistance.  Skincare startup Versed uses its SMS texting service called the Skincare Hotline, where consumers can take their questions to the team behind the brand for education and advice on how to make the most of their purchase.
  • Lifestyle Support. What are the lifestyle factors within the lives of your customers?  Companies don’t necessarily limit their connections with their customers to just the product.  Brands connecting with the lives of customers around the big-picture goals of their lives are creating customer connections. Baby product WaterWipes created a virtual group for new parents called Early Days Club that helped new parents share advise bringing up a baby during a pandemic.
  • Responsive Operations. Companies and organizations can no longer just rely upon advertising, they need to be responsive to their customers.  How do your customers want to interact with your products and services?  Coffee brand Alfred has evolved by shifting from brick-and-mortar distribution to a subscription model. Now as a DTC brand, it delivers coffee straight to consumers and accompanies each parcel with guidance for brewing at home.
  • Service Memberships. Want to make a customer for life?  Try including special discounts, sneak peaks and other VIP access in exchange for a more long-term connection.  The membership can be free or inexpensive.  Home goods retailer Wayfair has designed a paid membership program, providing subscribers with free shipping on all ecommerce sites associated with the brand, including Joss & Main, AllModern and Birch Lane, as well as access to limited sales.



Parent Pods

There have long been play groups and play dates organized by parents but the impact of the pandemic on childcare and schooling has led to a new option referred to as “parent pods”.  Neighbors are joining forces to hire private instructors as a way to secure childcare and make up for some of the gaps with online classes will leave in their kids' educations and development.

Parents want to be sure their children don't fall too far behind, but this trend could deepen the educational divide along racial and class lines.

Pandemic "pods", a group of families agreeing to limit their interactions outside that circle work as a safe way to help kids interact with their friends and give parents some time to work.

  • Some parents who can afford it are offering teachers who don't want to return to the classroom a competitive salary to teach a handful of students in a home environment.
  • Another option finds families with children in the same grade forming a pod and hiring a teacher or tutor at home during the work week.
  • For patents with preschoolers, pods are formed for a cross between a babysitter and a nanny.

You can be certain that this option is  for wealthier, mostly white families.  Some parents will invite lower-income families to join their pod, and could even subsidize their share of the cost, but heavily segregated school districts mean that can only go so far.

  • Some families are explicitly saying that they don’t want children of essential workers in their pods, as they can’t fully socially distance.

Source:  Axios


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