The Sound Reveals Behavioral Shifts in Home Entertainment in New COVID-19 Study

The Sound has published a revealing study detailing the new home entertainment behaviors of people around the world.

Online PR News – 11-November-2020 – New York, NY – The Sound, a global brand agency specializing in consumer exploration, brand strategy and innovation, has published a revealing study detailing the new home entertainment behaviors of people around the world.

Titled 'Sustaining the Boom in Home Entertainment', the study utilized a mixed-methods approach which included a data remine, a proprietary survey and social listening. The team also utilized a series of virtual conversations, speaking to real people to understand how their home entertainment behaviors and motivations have been impacted since COVID-19 lockdowns took effect.

As it turns out, in the short term, people have adapted their behaviors to get through. In the early months of the pandemic, people found “quick fixes” to address what they thought would be a temporary situation. With the realization that there would be no “return to normal” and that life must go on, they are adjusting what they do to get through this period.

“The great pause has allowed us the time and space to be present and deeply reflect, reevaluate what is truly important and reset ourselves, and—out of necessity—be more real with each other, exposing our vulnerabilities and showing our humanity. COVID-19 revealed shifts in what we may value for the longer term,” says Grace Gan, Senior Director of Consulting who lead the initiative.

The findings show that people’s core motivations haven’t changed. They’ve intensified and become more purposeful, revealing shifts in 4 “areas”:

- Transform & Evolve (from always being on the fast train (to somewhere) to redefining personal progress);
- Engage & Bond (from collecting connections to carefully curating them);
- Reset & Rejuvenate (from reactive, quick fixes to holistic, proactive healing);
- Be Responsible & Reliable (from giving in to the pressures of unrealistic expectations to reprioritizing those that are truly important).

To illuminate the “shifts” in how people are satisfying these 4 motivations, The Sound conducted research with a 3 pronged approach: 1) From May-October 2020, they conducted secondary research to continuously analyze trends around 4 motivations 2) In May/June 2020, they collected 210 stories from people age 18 - 65 living in lockdown around the world 3) In September/October 2020, they leveraged social listening tools to analyze consumer-generated content via social media sites, blogs, forums, reddit, etc. to capture changes in sentiment around the initial themes.

Unsurprisingly, the global pandemic has created a world where the days and weeks blur together. One of the people’s most fundamental needs – to feel a sense of growth, progress, achievement or purpose — no longer has a definitive end point. An increased desire for progress coupled with a lack of clear destination has resulted in new ways to satisfy people’s motivation to Transform & Evolve. People are turning to home entertainment companies to not only help them relieve boredom, but also fuel the continued desire for progress in new ways.

The study shows that many of the ways in which people typically achieve progress have come to a halt, and as a result, people feel stuck and unmotivated. In response, they are looking for ways to achieve a sense of forward momentum in their daily lives. Activities that convey a sense of time passing are grounding, e.g. the daily growth of a sourdough starter, building a muscle, leveling up on a language app.

While people have always been overwhelmed, the pandemic has led to the discovery of new coping mechanisms that they hadn’t considered and may carry forward beyond the pandemic. For instance, many people noted they are entering gaming for the first time to play games like Animal Crossing, and the satisfaction of checking off tasks (fishing, fruit-picking, etc.) helps offset anxiety around the state of the world — a strategy they might return back to the next time they feel this way.

The study proved an increased need to Engage & Bond or connect with each other. To satisfy this motivation, people have adjusted how they are connecting, who they are connecting to, and what they are connecting over. People are engaging in all sorts of new behaviors in order to connect to friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, old friends, exes, and even strangers on the internet. There’s no deficit of virtual solutions, but they often feel like cheap substitutes for the real thing.

Virtual substitutes like Zoom dinners don’t compare to IRL quality time and can be incredibly mentally draining, as people have to work harder to process non-verbal cues and avoid interrupting each other, particularly in group situations. Virtual activities seem to be the exception because they offer natural pauses in the conversation and provide an entertaining focus for the interaction.

There’s been a simultaneous narrowing and widening of social circles. The study participants reported cutting loose some relationships that were perhaps not worth the ‘work,’ while seeking to deepen their connection with others. The shift towards vulnerability has also extended to their social networks, as people share silly dances in their pajamas and seek out others for hope and positivity, as well as commonality through niche shared interests. For example, Peloton’s strong social features have led to a dedicated community of ‘tribes’ who motivate each other. And on TikTok, people are increasingly sharing stories about trauma, mental health and healing, which encourages others to do the same.

Beyond the fact that people are now relaxing more, The Sound have seen an interesting shift in how people are relaxing—a reclamation of relaxation. Instead of the approach to relaxation defined by the “hustle” culture—people are now prioritizing relaxation in new ways and shifting what it really means to relax in the scope of our ever-evolving lives.

The study illuminated two underlying shifts in what people value driving this evolution in how they relax. A shift towards a holistic and proactive approach to relaxation—one that considers the role of people’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and the rising desire (and action) towards a complete reset of the self—moving away from escapism and running away from the present situation to finding ways to be present and heal. This means prioritizing time to look inwards, to consider identities and long-term aspirations, and then taking the necessary steps to shift paths forward.

On the brighter side, people reported that they are experiencing the “great reset” now and increasingly finding peace in doing nothing—whether that means finding ways to mentally escape through video games or TV shows that connect them to a world they can’t be in, or pursuing deeper healing through a newfound value and prioritization of more—and better— sleep.

According to the study, responsibility is one of the most overwhelming motivations to face, and least satisfying to solve because societal expectations are relentless. During COVID-19, respondents pointed out that the pressure to be responsible only intensified as they took on additional roles and dealt with new situations. But over the last 7 months, as the danger of burnout loomed, there’s also been a fundamental shift in people’s relationship with responsibility.

To cope, people are leaving the “I shoulds” in the rear-view mirror and focusing on doing what’s essential - being responsible for keeping ourselves and our families safe and happy and getting our work done. Letting go of the expectations of what it means to be a perfect [Parent, Partner, Friend, Boss, Employee, Neighbor, etc.] may have been necessitated by the situation, but likely will have far-reaching impacts on their approach to work, parenting, etc. going forward.

“I think one of the most surprising – and encouraging – findings was that our sense of responsibility has expanded to a larger group of people, from checking in on neighbors to helping out older relatives, to reaching out to long lost friends. Beyond the people we know, many also feel accountable to our communities, making an effort to shop at local businesses and volunteer. This shift towards being more conscious about supporting others is likely to stick, as evidenced by a continued preference to shop locally this holiday season,” says Gan.

Speaking directly to the home entertainment industry, Gan thinks while our situations may change (mean-ing: a global pandemic), our core motivations remain constant, and deeply understanding the motivations driving our new behaviors–and the shifts in what we may value as a result–are the key to getting your brand ahead, and planning for tomorrow.

The Sound team point to several key questions they believe at-home entertainment brands should be asking themselves to enhance connection with consumers:

1. What is the core motivation behind engagement with your brand today?
2. What motivation(s) could your brand better satisfy tomorrow?
3. And how can you leverage motivations and the shifts in what we may value to shape communications and innovations to meet expectations in a post-pandemic world?

In conclusion, Grace hopes that businesses can utilize The Sound’s findings as an opportunity to understand how well they are delivering on needs and core motivations to stay relevant, or even become part of the routine. Additionally, she hopes that at-home entertainment brands will expand the view of their sandbox from direct category players, to the real competitive set. Knowing this provides not only insight into who brands are truly up against, but also sheds light on need-gaps to fill, and leverageable strengths to win.

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