How the pandemic has changed our shopping habits: The rise of the subscription box

If there’s one business model that has thrived as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s the subscription box. From beauty boxes to craft and recipe boxes there’s truly a subscription box for everyone.

According to Royal Mail’s recent UK Subscription Box Market report, the sector in the UK has grown rapidly and is set to be worth £1.8 billion by 2025.

The report shared statistics around the highest number of subscription boxes per adult in the UK in relation to area, and in third place after London and the North East, were subscription box shoppers in our area, the East Midlands, which averaged 4.6 boxes per person per year![1]

For many people, food subscription boxes specifically became something that they relied on during lockdown when eating out was a distant memory and going to the supermarket was a weekly mission fraught with sanitising stations and queues.

Despite restrictions being lifted, the seed of convenience has already been sewn in minds of the customers that gave recipe or food subscription boxes a go. The idea behind this B2C model is that long-term relationships are forged between buyer and seller built around convenience and quality.

Delivery boxes, specifically recipe boxes, are paving the way when it comes to food and packaging waste in several ways. Firstly, as they are pre-portioned you get the exact amount of ingredients needed for a dish so you don’t need to throw any excess food. Secondly, when ordering online, we tend to only order what we need rather than being tempted by extra items that we don’t really need in supermarkets which leads to waste.

It’s not just big companies like Hello Fresh and Gousto that are offering food subscription boxes, many smaller, independent businesses are delivering this business model and thriving.

We are very pleased to have started working with local business Kerry’s Fresh who have also benefitted from the rise of the subscription box.

Kerry’s Fresh have been operating in Nottingham since 1885 where they began selling livestock from a stall in Nottingham’s Old Market Square. Over the last 136 years, the business has gone from strength to strength and adapted to meet the need of its customers. Kerry’s Fresh adapted their offering in response to the thousands of orders they were receiving during the pandemic, creating an online shop and delivering fresh produce in Nottinghamshire and beyond.

Due to their success during lockdown, Kerry’s Fresh has employed more staff and partnered with DPD so that they can deliver their products nationwide.

Their range of products now includes dairy, meat, fish, bakery items, vegan friendly products and even a selection of craft ales and wine. They expanded their range to during lockdown to include customisable boxes for family favourite meals such as roast dinners and stir fries which have been an enormous success.

What does the future hold for the subscription box? The Royal Mail report suggest that the popularity of the subscription model will remain strong as it promotes high levels of loyalty. Fewer than a quarter (24%) of subscription box shoppers said they intended to cancel their subscriptions any time soon – convenience is king, after all.

[1] https://www.royalmailgroup.com/en/press-centre/press-releases/royal-mail/consumers-drive-growth-in-uk-subscription-box-market-as-popularity-soars/

Optimising work space: The benefits of inviting the outdoors, inside your home

As the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown is now underway, we begin our journey back to normal life (again).

Although, this begs the question – what is ‘normal life’ going to be like? Whilst it’s evident none of us are sure on when our lives will resume as before, due to the ever-changing rules and restrictions, we need to continue adapting our methods of working, socialising and living whilst under these rules, ensuring we do so in a way that enriches our lives and well-being as much as possible.

Whilst the government has stated that employees will commence working from offices again in ‘a few short months’, a recent study found that 89% of participants in the UK would be happy to work from home for at least one day a week, if not more in the future.*

Since the pandemic hit last March, 87% of employees reported their businesses have adapted to hybrid working, and it’s looking likely that organisations will adopt a hybrid working model for the foreseeable, with the workforce divided between working remotely and in the office.*

We understand that sometimes, it can be incredibly difficult to self-motivate at home when in work mode, especially if you’ve been affected by the pandemic burnout. So, we’ve compiled a list of benefits to help you understand why inviting the outdoors into your inside working environment will set you on the right track to a more focused, calm and optimised mind set.

Letting light in

As we step into spring, the sun begins to grace us with its glorious presence. Letting the light into your home creates a more comfortable, breathable environment, allowing your area to feel more spacious whilst connecting us to the outside world. Therefore, our cooped-up space feels bigger and less claustrophobic.

So, open a window, draw those curtains back, and bask in the ambience of natural lighting.

Sunlight exposure

In addition to this, the sunlight also increases our serotonin levels, which provides us with copious benefits such as:  improving our sleeping pattern, helping us to focus better and making us happier. A recent study shows that since the start of the pandemic, 58% of participants sleeping patterns have been negatively affected, therefore exposing ourselves to a generous amount of sunlight is key to our psychological well-being.*

Earthy tones

Dulux’s colour of the year for 2021 has been voted for as ‘Brave ground’, a warming neutral shade inspired by the peaceful simplicity nature presents to us.

After spending a year indoors more than ever before, we have found comfort in being outside within nature, and quite frankly, we crave it.

By introducing warmer earthy tones throughout your house, enables you to create a calming ‘sanctuary’ for yourself, whilst helping to uplift your spirit as a sense of connection to the outside world is created, all in the comfort of your own humble abode.

Sage greens, inky blues and pastel pinks are key shades to help create the perfect palette.

Houseplants

Not only do they add to the aesthetic appeal of a room, houseplants actually provide us with an abundance of benefits in terms of our well-being. It’s been found that house plants improve the air quality around the house. Not only do they transform the carbon dioxide around them into oxygen, but they also increase humidity levels – which is perfect if you’re an allergy sufferer.

Houseplants also increase our productivity levels as air purifying elements help us to balance the levels of CO2 within our bodies.

Finally, if you’re finding yourself suffering from headaches after the end of a tiresome day, houseplants have been found to help reduce levels of ‘formaldehyde’ in the air – which is a chemical found in many indoor environments and is often a common cause of headaches. So put the paracetamol away, and pot the plants instead!*

Natural materials

By introducing natural materials such as wood throughout your household, without even knowing it, you are in fact reducing stress and blood pressure, whilst increasing levels of creativity and productivity.* Who knew?

Ultimately, spending time within nature is the remedy we all need for a rejuvenated lifestyle, but whilst it’s not always feasible for us to enjoy the delights nature presents to us due to hectic work schedules – there are certainly adjustments we can make to our environments, allowing the exposure to enhancing assets that nature poses to us, as much as we possibly can.

Contact us today at Jennie Holland PR – as your PR agency, we can adapt and implement new strategies, strengthening your brand and business.

References –
Stats – https://voxeu.org/article/working-home-revolutionising-uk-labour-market
*VoxEU, 2021.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/27/coronavirus-boris-johnson-workers-will-return-to-offices-in-a-few-short-months
*The Guardian, 2021.
https://news.microsoft.com/en-gb/2021/02/15/research-reveals-how-we-really-feel-about-working-from-home/
*Microsoft, 2021.
https://www.realhomes.com/advice/benefits-of-houseplants
*Real Homes, N/A
https://www.creategiftlove.co.uk/blogs/blog/natural-materials-and-biophilic-design#:~:text=By%20incorporating%20natural%20materials%20such,while%20increasing%20creativity%20and%20productivity.
Create Gift Love, N/A

Life after lockdown: How can we look after our mental health now and in the future?

After marking one year since the UK first entered lockdown, we wanted to explore one of the hidden consequences of the isolated lives we’ve all been leading over the past 12 months – the effect it has had on our mental health and wellbeing, and what steps we can take to ensure we continue to cope and thrive through challenging times.  

It has been reported that as many as ten million people in the UK now require new or additional mental health support as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Adrian James, predicting that the lasting effects of the pandemic on our mental wellbeing will be felt for years to come.  

As many of us faced uncertainty in 2020 – be it over our health, employment, living and working from home situations, or through concern for family and friends, the pandemic has understandably sparked a wave of national anxiety, as we grow increasingly eager to return to normality.  

But just as we had to adjust to lockdown life, we will also have to readjust once again when restrictions are finally lifted. Though not an officially recognised mental health condition (yet?)Post Pandemic Stress Disorder is a term being used already.  

Lockdown has presented us with some valuable learnings and opportunities tooin terms of revaluating our lives, identifying our priorities, putting things into perspective and setting new goals for ourselves 

So, what can we do to continue to remain strong through the remainder of lockdown, and get ready for returning to normality?  

We’ve shared our top recommendations to help with moving forward, to ensure we’re prepared.

Work-life balance 

As many workers made the transition from the office to home during lockdown, we adapted and developed new daily routines in order to continue our work from the safety of our homesA stressful time for businesses both large and small, as a flexible and fast response was required to keep companies running smoothly despite the upheaval that closing offices caused.  

Working remotely, though challenging, has revealed some of the qualities that are needed to do it effectivelyIt strips away all of the other ‘stuff’ that goes along with being in an office – the commute, what you choose to wear, the vending machine chit-chat, making sure you shout loudest about how busy you are – instead, it just boils down to the work, and the quality of work, that you achieve in a day.  

This change highlights the importance of a work-life balance, which has become a hot topic of discussion over the last few years, long before the pandemic hit.  

Learning how to switch off at the end of the day and not worry about all the things you have to do the next day, is a real skill – and one that is vitally important to your mental health.   

Little things like switching off your phone, or not checking your emails outside of office hours, will allow you to reclaim some valuable me-time that you can spend how you wish.  

Reach out to loved ones 

Lockdown life meant that many families were separated, unable to travel to visit one another and were reliant on telephone and Skype/Zoom calls to connect. 

The isolation we’ve all experienced from friends and family members can be used as motivation to reach out to those we haven’t spoken to in a while – as a lack of social interaction can remind us how important it fundamentally is to us, as humans. We are sociable creatures, so once lockdown ends, we will all be more grateful than ever to meet up with familiar faces once again.  

Since lockdown has helped to put aspects of our lives into perspective, it may also be the perfect time to reconnect with those you’ve lost touch with – school friends or estranged family members for example  or if you know anyone who has a history of mental health issues, reaching out with a simple message to see how they are doing can be a very powerful way of reminding them that they are remembered and heard.  

Make time for yourself 

Similar to creating a healthy work-life balance, making time for yourself will allow you to enjoy that all-important me-time.  

Instead of sitting on the couch scrolling through your phone or watching your favourite streaming platform, decide to spend your time in a slightly different way. Self-care comes in many forms, and really depends on what you enjoy doing, what relaxes you and what fills you with passion.  

If you have a hobby, or have something you’ve always wanted to get into, take steps to make it happen and spend some time on it each week. 

If you’ve always dreamed of painting – paint, if you’ve always wanted to try pottery – take steps towards making that a reality, whether it’s purchasing a beginner’s kit, or booking a class once they’re (hopefully) open later in the year.  

Set your own goals 

It might not be a new year, but the plan to relax lockdown restrictions over the spring and summer months feels like a reset – a chance to start again. With that in mind, setting goals for yourself for what you’d like to achieve professionally and personally will be a great way to stay focused, work hard and look after yourself.  

There is little point in creating too many goals, as you’re bound to set yourself up for disappointment (how many New Year’s resolutions do we really successfully stick to?) – instead, choose two or three things that you’d like to change or work towards.  

It can be small or large – go for a walk at least once this week, spend two hours studying an online coursetry a new recipe once a week, give up meat on Mondays – it’s up to you, but achieving your goals, no matter how small, is a very rewarding experience and helps you practice self-discipline. 

Celebrate your resilience 

The past twelve months may have taught you something new about yourself or your life – you might have realised you don’t enjoy your job; you need a new car or a new home, you want to start a family – whatever it is, using the time we’ve had in lockdown, staying at home and reflecting on what’s taking place in the world, may have helped to put some things into perspective for you. 

Remember – you’ve made it this far, faced uncertainty and anxiety and that shows true strength. What would the current you say to yourself 12 months ago, having lived through lockdown? Celebrate your resilience, and with hindsight and reflection, allow yourself to realise that you’re stronger than you think.

Useful charities, helplines and websites: 

  • Mind – providing advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.  
  • Samaritans  free confidential helpline, 24/7, offering support for anyone wishing to talk about problems or concerns they’re experiencing.  
  • Shout UK – free confidential texting service, 24/7, offering support for anyone in crisis. 
  • CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably  a leading movement against suicide, offering support and advice.  
  • The Mix – a leading support service for people under the age of 25 experiencing mental health problems.  
  • Rethink Mental Illness – helping people with mental health issues through local groups and services. 

Lockdown 3.0 and the property market – should the stamp duty holiday be extended?

Despite the uncertainty of the last few months, as well as the government announcing a third lockdown at the start of the year – the property market is one sector that remains strong and buoyant in a period of economic turbulence.

As PR specialists based in the East Midlands, we work with many clients across the country in the property and construction industry, keeping up to date with the latest market news and monitoring its overall performance and ups and downs, to ensure we provide the best service for our clients.

In 2020, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a stamp duty holiday until 31 March 2021, its aim, to increase public demand for housing and help buyers cut some of the costs associated with getting onto the housing ladder. These efforts to boost the sale of properties during a difficult period proved to be much-needed fuel for the economy.

Moving house during lockdown
Image: www.pexels.com

During the changing lockdown restrictions and circumstances of 2020, the housing market initially suffered a slump during the second quarter when it came to a halt. Following the reopening of the market, pent-up demand saw house prices and sales rise rapidly as people looked to buy and sell quickly and take advantage of the time-limited stamp duty holiday in order to save money.

House prices have since seen a dramatic climb over the last few months – the highest ever in fact – with the average house price in the UK now at a record £253,374*.

As the March 2021 stamp duty holiday deadline looms closer, leading property experts and businesses are calling for the government to extend the holiday to take the third lockdown into account and further drive forward the market.

The positives of extending the incentive would benefit prospective homebuyers and the market as a whole, and given the current lockdown, an extension may be the slice of good news buyers need to take the plunge and complete house purchases.

Despite the housing market adopting a position of ‘business as usual’, the restrictions on staying at home mean that transactions are taking longer – with people unable to complete and submit paperwork quickly, and estate agents, brokers, solicitors and lenders working from home and having to adapt to new methods and practices to accommodate the demand from customers.

Therefore, an extension of the stamp duty holiday would ease some of this pressure, allowing more time for transactions to be completed.

Though there has been some criticism towards the stamp duty holiday, with experts claiming that it may have hindered some buyers from purchasing a home rather than helping them, there is no doubt that the incentive was always designed to be a temporary fix to bolster the market, which seems to have been effective on the whole.

As one of the biggest drivers of the economy, it is seen by many in the industry as vital that the government extends the scheme once more, as we potentially face many more months of national economic instability.

Jennie Holland PR has extensive experience and expertise working with dynamic companies in the property, construction and law industries, including FHP Living, G F Tomlinson, JMP Solicitors, Taggart Homes, ALB Group, Influence, Howard Ward Associates and Land & New Homes Network. We implement targeted PR and digital marketing strategies to bolster your brands online and offline presence; by securing articles with backlinks in high domain authority media and providing a result-driven social media management service.

We can help you become famous amongst your target audiences. Contact us today to start your new year PR journey and let’s meet those targets together in 2021.

*https://www.express.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/1381445/house-prices-rishi-sunak-extend-stamp-duty-deadline

Cracking Christmas campaigns of 2020 (so far)

Christmas is usually an opportune time for brands to utilise PR, social media and digital marketing to spread some Christmas cheer.

We can all agree that Christmas 2020 will be different, but whatever festive cheer means to you this year, we think you will be able to enjoy some of our favourite Christmas campaigns of this year (so far).

Action for Happiness: December Kindness Calendar

With all kinds of new advent calendar concepts popping up – Action for Happiness has launched a downloadable December Kindness calendar, its aim – to boost our mental health and happiness during these uncertain times. We may not have been able to have as much control as usual over our lifestyles this year, but we can always choose to be kind to ourselves and others.

Christmas is a time for appreciation and showing love to those around you, so we can certainly all try to be more kind, especially during this festive season.

Take a look and download the free kindness calendar here: https://www.actionforhappiness.org/december

Image: Action for Kindness

Spa Seekers: Mulled wine hot tub spa

After the year we have all had, an entire hot tub filled with mulled wine would certainly go down a treat!

Taking boozy to a new level, a campaign launched by Spa Seekers invites holiday goers to try a spa session which features a soak in the mulled wine hot tub, a festive massage and a free bottle of booze to finish.

Take a look and book a session here: https://www.spaseekers.com/spa-insider/inspiration/mulled-wine-spa-day

Image: Spa Seekers

Money.co.uk: The world’s favourite Christmas films

Using Google search data, Money.co.uk were able to rank the most searched for festive films around the world.

It’s no surprise that Love Actually was at the Top of England’s list, with a search volume of nearly 1million! That’s our weekend planned…

Image: Money.co.uk

Contact us today at Jennie Holland PR – as your PR agency, we can adapt and implement new strategies, strengthening your brand and business.

The importance of nurturing client relationships

In the PR world, doing our job well requires knowing our clients’ brands very well.

And that is why building lasting client relationships is a key part of what we do – so we can understand businesses and those who they are selling to.

Besides entering into an engagement for a contract of work – the best client relationships require careful management and are sustained and nurtured through regular and close communication, transparency and going the extra mile.

Especially during these difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that clients are well looked after, as businesses face some of the toughest times in the current economic climate.

We’ve compiled our fundamentals for keeping and looking after important client relationships, to make sure clients are content and working relationships are the best that they can be.

Gain trust

Client trust is vital in a good working relationship and this can be built through open communication, agreeing realistic goals and delivering campaigns with tangible, solid results. We work with our clients to communicate as often as possible so that we can be sure we are meeting their needs and they can be safe in the knowledge that they are being listened to and that our work is of value. Also, being on hand as often as needed is important to talk and guide clients through situations and opportunities that may arise, offering professional input and solutions.

Be transparent

There is no point promising the world and under-delivering, as this will only spike distrust in a working relationship. In terms of deliverables, these need to be carefully considered and agreed  upon following meetings, in which the identification of targets and business needs takes place. It’s always fine to discuss ideas and to say what will and won’t work for a client. Certain ideas may be potentially more risqué and ground breaking, which is also great as it’s important to keep ideas fresh, however – it’s important to proceed with caution when handling any and all plans to ensure the best interests of the client are at the heart of any strategy. Transparency is of total importance from an agency point of view, to ensure that you negotiate and understand plans of action, which will stop you from entering into any unresolvable situations.

Go the extra mile

Clients notice the cherries on top, and any PR agency worth its salt will go above and beyond to meet and exceed client expectations – offering advice and ideas for added value regularly. Whether it’s offering proactive opportunities for media interviews when a particular relevant new topic crops up, or ensuring your brand is a trendsetter in it’s industry with out of the box ideas that pave the way in terms of leadership – there are always plenty of opportunities for news to place and your brand to get noticed – so it’s always worth going the extra mile, and clients will remember.

Be flexible

From budget, to deliverables – every client is different and a one size fits all approach is never the best option to suit varying client needs. Sitting down with a client and getting under the skin of their needs is the best way to devise a strategy that is bespoke to them – which meets the needs, requirements and target audiences of their services and products.

Whatever direction your business is going in, communicating your brand is so important, contact Jennie Holland PR to find out how we can help you, and to find out how to get the best out of your PR agency, read more here.