Ken Hughes blends his understanding of consumer & cyber psychology, digital anthropology, behavioral economics and retail futurology to explore the needs of the new consumer. Credit: Ken Hughes
Retail

The Captive Economy: What next for the Covid-19 consumer

Ken Hughes is an authority on consumer and shopper behavior. According to him we now live in what he has decided to name “The Captive Economy”–one where we as participants and consumers are limited in terms of how we are to live our lives.

Ken Hughes thinks it is slowly dawning on most of us that things may never quite be the same again. We are entering a new era, one that has no fixed point as its destination. We are like the adventurous explorers of old, except that instead of sailing out hoping to discover exciting new territories, we are just hoping to hold on to our own. None of us have any real idea how this is all going to play out.

Depending on where you live and what state of lock-down you find yourself in, for most life has changed fundamentally over the past weeks and for the near future. Welcome to “The Captive Economy”. The Chinese word for crisisis made up of two characters, one representing danger, the other opportunity. In every significant change (and indeed life) there will be winners and losers, those that will spot opportunity in the chaos and those that will be side-swiped by it.

Economic 404 Error

In terms of losers, significant segments of our economies have been brought to their knees in recent weeks. If the travel industry was a smartphone, it has long since accepted it’s 1’% battery remaining’ message on its screen. Airlines and travel agents will have to wait a few months to find a charging point, and even then, they’ll probably have the wrong charger. Hotels, restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters, sports events all sit empty. The thousands of other ancillary support businesses that support them also closed. The shutters have come down street by street. We are experiencing an Economic 404 Error–Economy Not Found.

Here are some of Hughes’ thoughts on how we can make sense of this and what this Captive Economy could mean for us all: The Captive Economy

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