The Tipping Point
The 2020 Coronavirus pandemic is something we are all too familiar with. Globally, this triggered a number of second and third-order effects in society that had an impact on Edutainment. From the influence of technology to a high rate of resignation, people were forced to adopt a new way of life.
Without wanting to drag you back through that period for too long, here are four of the big shifts that sent us towards a tipping point.
1. Widening inequality
The economic impacts affected everyone, but it affected the haves and the have nots in different magnitudes. As the World Bank outlined:
“In 2021, the average incomes of people in the bottom 40 percent of the global income distribution are 6.7 percent lower than pre-pandemic projections, while those of people in the top 40 percent are down 2.8 percent.”
This disparity has not gone unnoticed and, in the coming months and years, we will see players tackle this space. This may involve government-industry partnerships such as the move into the apprenticeship space by Jolt and Multiverse.
2. A Great Resignation
A phenomenon known as The Great Resignation started and does not seem to be slowing down. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. A record-breaking 10.9 million jobs were vacant at the end of July.
Many have simply reached a breaking point after burnout, a lack of distinction between work and home coupled with the stress of the pandemic causing them to rethink the role of work in the meaning of their lives.
3. Acceleration of technology adoption
A McKinsey study found that respondents are now 3x more likely to say that the majority of their customer interactions are digital in nature.
This also adds additional population to the target addressable market that Edutainment has never been able to reach prior to this rapid and required digital transformation. An example of hardware targeted at an age group that may require a total overhaul of user experience design is GrandPad, an iPad-esque tool made for the older generation.
4. Education and Entertainment become ripe for disruption
The cost of education is becoming unaffordable as it grows 8x faster than real wages. Currently, Americans collectively hold $1.5 trillion in student debt. Scott Galloway of New York University equates US elite universities (including his) to effectively being a cartel.
In the entertainment industry, Hollywood was left flailing as cinema closures affected many big-name releases. In contrast, Netflix’s share price rose during the pandemic as bored people in lockdown binged new series and sated their taste for global experiences through international content like Squid Game and Money Heist.
Edutainment has a “big bang” moment
And as with many things, kids led the way...
During the early stages of lockdown, parents were presented with a unique set of challenges; keeping their kids entertained despite guidance to stay inside, and ensuring their kids were still learning despite not being at school.
It started with a *bang* that included kids falling behind in all areas of learning. Overall, students experienced a 30% increase in failing grades.
Parents were frustrated because they didn’t know how to help their kids. But they didn’t want their kids to tune out education and learning. So they turned to video on demand (VOD) and linear TV to both educate and entertain their children, spawning a boom in Edutainment content, blurring the lines between education and entertainment.
In the first half of 2020, research by Giraffe Insights found that 8 in 10 parents thought it was important for their kids to watch content that was both entertaining and educational, and 67% of kids watched more educational content during this time.
50% of parents believe their kids will watch more Edutainment content in the future.
But lockdown, isolation, and the mental health crisis that the pandemic caused (arguably, the worst-hit demographic was kids) presented an opportunity for brands and creators.
TikTok, in particular, gave brands and creators an advantage because they could lean into the overarching theme that emerged from the pandemic - the importance of community - making content that brought people together. This was certainly proven true with 67% of shared videos going beyond the platform, showing that users often find themselves enjoying the entertainment with friends and family far and wide.
The content creation itself also tends to involve friends or family. The hashtag #EduTok has achieved over 138 billion views since its inception.
...just like that Edutainment found itself at a precipice. Widening inequality, The Great Resignation, and the rapid adoption of technology (hey, distance learning) caused by the Coronavirus perfectly positioned Edutainment to become a positive force in a new world.
Brands and creators that shifted to Edutainment early on had an advantage because they could lean into the overarching theme that emerged from the pandemic - making content that brought people together. And it prepared them for what comes next.