Always look on the bright side of Covid-19

I know, it is devastating, unprecedented, shocking and many more adjectives that I could go on listing, but the question remains: Do we really have something to thank this terrible #coronavirus for? Quite a number of findings, and also some interesting facts and figures on how we are behaving, supported by real data:

This #stay-at-home situation makes us seek love; proximity that has been denied to us. Our natural impulse is to go out, and our next impulse is to hug all the people we love and care for. Suddenly, we see ourselves replacing hugs with technology, used also as a means of communication with everyone.

Figures speak for themselves:

Any idea of what has been the rise in mobile phone expenditure since Covid-19?  According to the Spanish company Movistar, there has been a 40% increase! Isn’t that amazing? Revealing?

What about data consumption?  It has also gone up by 70%, and if we turn our eyes to the use of WhatsApp, then it is mind boggling: the data traffic within this app has multiplied by 7, a 700% increase, as opposed to pre-Covid traffic.

There is a rationale for this. We make more video calls through WhatsApp, with parents, friends, children, cousins, grandchildren, etc. We need to talk and see each other! We don’t want to be disconnected from the people we used to see, and we miss everybody more than ever before.

Fortunately, in Spain we have more optical fiber than UK, Italy and Germany together!  We have the 3rd largest fiber-optic network in the world 🌍. I know, internet goes a little slower in these Covid days, but it does not get cut off. In fact, the European Union has asked Netflix, Amazon Prime Video & YouTube to lower their bitrate, that is, the amount of information an image contains. This means in practical terms that we use less gigabytes, whilst the quality of the images we see are almost the same. Miracles do happen!

Another fact, a moment of hope: in Spain at 8.00 pm every single day since the outbreak of the crisis, everyone stands at their windows or on their balconies to pay tribute to all the healthcare personnel who are fighting death daily under stressed conditions, to try and get us out of this. They deserve much more than an applause, but it is a way to say a huge thank you to them. Everyone starts clapping at 8.00 pm sharp for about 5 minutes nonstop with a great amount of energy, as a tribute to them, to convey a thankful message for their heroic effort. Well, another interesting fact is that Internet traffic drops sharply during those 5 minutes, thanks to this collective applause. It is a highly emotional moment for all of us and we need it every day as a boost.

Another interesting piece of information is which are the most downloaded Apps since the outbreak of the crisis:  Zoom, Hangouts, Skype, House Party, all of them focused on connecting, while we are able to see each other as if we were in the same room. Also, Google Classroom is being used by many schools to keep the young ones mentally fit.

Some more facts: TV consumption has obviously increased, from 226 minutes daily to 326. And that of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video has gone from 22 to 44 minutes daily.

How to spend the day?

The world has been put on pause mode, but that is a reminder that we need to look at our lives more in depth, educate ourselves more, train in new things, talk more to that old friend we have not talked to for ages, reach out to our parents, grandparents, etc.

But people like us, market researchers, feel the need to also put aside some time to keep on exercising and training our brain, sudden changes are stimulating for our brains, catalyzing creativity.

Hence, although not at same pace as before Covid-19, we are undertaking online research, and reverting some of the offline ones to online. That keeps us busy, also keeps the industry going and moving forward, at a slower pace, still making strides.

We need to take this as a warning. Look after ourselves more, along with the people we care about. Make the most of our time, and also keep our passion alive when it comes to work: market research. This will still last for a few weeks, thus we need to find a good balance between our leisure and family time, whilst we keep on accomplishing some valuable work from home.

Let’s get on with it!!


Alberto Herreros

Research Director at Arpo