It’s very challenging right now for any business to plan with any certainty. Countries are in different lockdown phases which affects supply chains at one end and retail consumption a the other. Its not like a recession or financial crisis, its effectively an overnight shutdown of society and business. Most of my international clients are therefore scenario planning best, middle and worst case scenarios and are in constant touch with national markets to understand the local situation. Then adapting their immediate, next 1, 3, 6 and 9 month plans as t’s hard to focus beyond that when such fundamental disruption hits.
I see a shift in many ways – with future needs being more based on personal security and well being. I think the move out of the crisis will be governed by prevailing laws and guidance re restrictions so no sudden return to normal. Consumers will want to reconnect with people, enjoy the basic freedoms they’ve lost and then return to things like travel, holidays and bigger purchases – assuming they financially survive and have work or other asset based wealth. Even then I suspect more caution in their spending behaviour and some fundamental shifts in most people’s values. Brands will respond and are already doing so with a shift even more to on line and it will be the stronger brands that survive then prosper as weaker ones struggle. Some sectors face real challenges – cruise ships for example. They have massive trust and personal safety issues to resolve. And personally I hope to see some convergence in all our values as consumers with the wider climate change challenges which threaten us beyond this pandemic.
It will encourage change, it’s inevitable. Weaker distribution partners and retailers will struggle to cope and many will likely fail. Future forecast sales and investments will be done with more caution and I think we will see in many sectors a reduction in reliance and spend on things like exhibitions, events and trade shows with a further shift on line. I also suspect the face of retail will continue its accelerated change to online, the high street and shopping centre fare existential challenges right now not helped by the pandemic.
Right now I am working with my clients to help them be relevant and appropriate in their current communications during the crisis. We are also helping try solve some short term operating challenges whilst setting up realistic post crisis recovery scenario plans, including new product launches. The key thing is always being to focus on our client’s core brand values and to keep being relevant, helping their intermediaries and consumers navigate these uncharted waters. Overall, I am quite sure we will all get out the other side of this wiser and leaner. This disruption is unprecedented in scale and suddenness and is very testing for everyone. Hopefully too, the post pandemic “new world” will also be a kinder place than before and society will put more value and investment into the essentials like healthcare or at least more than it did until now.
Hopefully, the post pandemic “new world” will also be a kinder place than before and society will put more value and investment into the essentials