Here’s how you can navigate in the midst of COVID-19 and plan for the road ahead
Coronavirus has impacted the world at an unprecedented level — and unfortunately, even though 2020 is over, the worst has yet to come. Companies and brands need to act today in order to bounce back successfully in a post-corona marketplace. But, with news, data, and rules about COVID-19 changing daily, it’s hard to keep up with the latest developments and hard to process all of the information coming our way. However, we have a three-pronged approach to mitigate the impact of COVID and future-proof as best you can, the situation.
The first is relevancy. The world has shifted and that means perceptions have shifted both short and long term. Is your brand chiming in with the current narrative? To make smart strategic decisions, you must understand your company’s position in your environment. The key questions you need to be asking is: Who are you in your market, what role do you play in your ecosystem, and who are your main competitors? You must also understand where you are headed. In order to be as relevant as possible, active listening needs to be adopted to understand causation and sentiment of the customers so they remain top of mind, at all times.
To truly capture the ‘why’ in the world right now, substantive real-time and contextualized data needs to be harvested in order for social change and digital transformation (the two most relevant tenets in a post pandemic world) to take shape. With intellectual machines like our Conflict/Commercial Analysis Software Tool (CAST), you are equipped with a complete 360° picture of the world, your competitors, customers and how wider events – like COVID-19 – will affect their behavior and thus your business.
To bring it home, there are a number of industries currently grappling with the question of viability in a post-pandemic world: including those in the travel, hospitality, and events industries.
For example, Jan Dolezal from the Czech Republic pivoted his tourism business SmartGuide to answer the needs of digital tourism and safe travel for tourists in pandemic times. At SmartGuide they have been making it easier for tourist destinations to sign up and increase their digital offering through their ‘Smart Restart’ program and get tourist destinations back on their feet. To be clear, travel as we know it, is not back and is likely to remain a grey zone for a while – despite the influx of ‘influencers’ and those escaping lockdowns in Europe by flying to the Middle East. However, there will be a sense of normalcy in the next couple of years, rolling out across the world.
SmartGuide’s program has responded to COVID-19 by inspiring tourists to visit less frequented sites independently outside the crowds and tour groups with a safe contactless guide. As a result, tourists are able to enjoy a more authentic experience and the risk of Covid-19 transmission is minimized. According to Prague City Tourism – who published 10 self-guided tours leading tourists outside the crowded city center – tourists spend 30% of their time in outer neighborhoods where they would not otherwise go. And on top of that, SmartGuide were awarded the Seal of Excellence in COVID-19 response from the European Commission. And that’s how you stay relevant in an industry, which might seem like it’s ailing on the tip of the iceberg, but below the surface, are adapting to ‘next normal’ measures with a fresh and evolved business model.
The second approach to preparing for the future is ensuring high levels of visibility. A survey conducted by Mindshare found that 71% of Americans want to hear how brands or companies are taking action against COVID-19. Additionally, data also shows that brands who stay visible during a crisis rebound faster and stronger, and can increase market share by three times. Ninety-three percent of consumers want brands to step up and help the most vulnerable and affected communities, like the elderly, the unemployed, and front-line workers. In other words, companies now need to establish a strong CSR component to their DNA which brims with compassion, empathy and heart.
Companies need to start aligning their purpose and vision with the immediate needs of society. Take the KFC brand as a prime example. The fried-chicken legends are providing weekend meals to kids in need with the nonprofit organization, Blessings in a Backpack and are actually doing something to help. Other savvy and society-focused companies doing good include P&G, who in tandem with WPP agency Grey, are encouraging social distancing among younger people through the #DistanceDance with TikTok influencer Charli d’Amelio. And Unilever had also committed to providing €100 million worth of free soap, sanitizer, bleach, and food to consumers and communities around the world at the start of the pandemic and has followed through since.
By displaying a sense of duty and care, you define your brand. Reputation management is integral during this time. How companies behave and communicate now – with employees, customers, and entire communities — for the next decade. Brands that people see taking action today are the ones they’ll remember years from now, in a post pandemic world.
Another way to reset for growth beyond the pandemic, is to be a market disruptor. To be disruptive is to change the gears on culture. With everyone adapting to new ways of working i.e., implementing remote management systems, working off of smartphones, Zoom calls and organizational messaging platforms, innovation has sped up exponentially in just a year.
Digital transformation was already happening pre-COVID-19. Now it’s reached a speed no one could have imagined. We have always pioneered the 4th industrial revolution and have asserted that it’s not just a shift in our use of technology but a generational mindset shift of how companies grow, engage and manage their relationships with their customers, employees and larger world in the experience economy.
As much as we are used to the virtual world – a study by Kameleoon indicates that 34% of the world is spending more time online – however, the future will not be digital only. Brands need to collaborate with trusted partners who understand the complexities of these trends and how to deliver the right solutions for the target demographic.
With our nuanced digital transformation capabilities, we leverage new technologies along with changing consumer behaviors to grow existing business and expand into new products and services – increasing revenue and reducing cost. As a Strategic Digital Transformation Consultancy, we will assess where you are, understand where you want to be, and create the roadmap for how to get there. Creativity and collaboration is your contingency plan.
The now is critical. New consumer behaviors and sentiment are evolving as a response to COVID-19. To give you an example, McKinsey’s survey below demonstrates the urge for value and quality over everything else across several countries in the world. There is a huge desire for personalization (Kameleoon revealed that 73% said they expect a personalized journey,) bridging the offline with the online in a new world experience – because, we still crave that in-person experience.
To move forward in a post pandemic world, companies will need to reflect and evaluate how their brand positioning, purpose, strategies, and goals fare under pressure of renewed sentiments. Are you still relevant? Is the culture and identity of your business readjusting to new needs and criteria? Companies must act today. If we all start on the road to recovery, we can become more resilient in the process.