Covid-19 is rapidly changing society. In order to stop the virus, we have to go back to the stone age. We have to retreat to our caves and wait there until the winter is over. Only this time our caves are a bit warmer and instead of bows or spears, we are playing with smartphones and laptops. Ok, I’m slightly exaggerating here, but we (temporarily) have to give up lots of modern world benefits like public transport and social life. The current situation is influencing the markets and here are a few major trends of how the virus is changing the marketing landscape.
Toilet paper Mind Shift
At the moment everyone is in survival mode. People are calculating how much bacon cans and toilet paper they need to get them through the quarantine. Consumers want to make sure they have essentials like food, medication, shelter, education, and clothing. Suddenly the number of cameras on your smartphone is not important. The NBA, Champions League and even some local elections are all canceled. Everything changed and people are solidly focused on day to day quarantine survival. How much savings do they have? How long can they last? What happens if the economy collapses? What happens if their job is gone?
Performance of S&P 500 in Great Depression and COVID-19. https://t.co/xhdho03K00
— MDA (@MDAtheagency) March 26, 2020
Following the virus outbreak, we will (probably) face a huge economic crisis. Some people already compare the situation to the Great Depression (1929 – 1932). So even when we beat the virus, the “toilet paper” mentality will stay with us for a while. People will cut their budget for luxury goods, they won’t take any unnecessary risks, and if they can, they will hold large investments until better times are on the horizon.
The consumer has changed. She thinks and behaves differently compared to a few weeks ago. Most probably some customer discovery actions like interviews and surveys are in order. You probably have to adjust your communication strategy to the new reality. How can your customer benefit from your product or service in the new circumstances?
Suddenly grandmas are paying bills via mobile banks, kids are taking online classes, and most adults are working remotely from the home office. Today’s reality sounded like a far distant future a mere month ago.
In Italy, Facebook Messenger group video calls are up 1,000% in 1 month: pic.twitter.com/OQTWfuvZz2
— Jon Erlichman (@JonErlichman) March 24, 2020
But it is not just the increase in technology use. What we are witnessing is a major change in the service industry. We see that we can manage without actual classrooms, gyms, cinemas, and even stores. Now everything happens on your sofa. You don’t need to go anywhere. Your living room is an office, a classroom in the morning, gym in the afternoon, and cinema or concert hall in the evening. You used to meet lots of people in person, like a nutritionist, personal trainer, insurance agent or mortgage broker. Now all of those are coming to you via apps or video calls.
The virus outbreak will probably go on for a few months – long enough for people to get used to this new reality. And when the self-isolation period is over, consumers will want to keep the best parts of the “multifunctional” living room. After all, who wants to spend hours in traffic jams while rushing from one end to another?
We think, in terms of digital reality, humanity fast forwarded 5 to 10 years in one month. We expect companies to rapidly innovate and adopt digital business models. Smart companies will try to make sure that they find themselves on the consumer’s sofa schedule.
Remote work has been predicted to boom this year. But covid-19 and the enforcement of social distance measures gives it an unexpected boost. Governments and companies are forced to do a trial of remote work and build habits and processes around it. Once the habits and processes are established, they will stay. So we expect a huge increase in remote work during and after the crisis. This will probably be one of the fastest growing industries, so if you have any ideas connected to remote work, now is the time to put them into practice.
The government should not interfere with the market. The libertarian dogma was more or less followed in all the countries of the Western world. The holy market was in charge of everything and politicians had fewer and fewer measures to control the overall direction of things. Especially in the European Union there was a trend of political weakness, where technical governments were able to run countries but unable to introduce any major changes.
This drastically changed over the past two weeks. At the moment everyone is screaming the government should interfere and help the businesses that are hit by the covid-19 outbreak. In the first packages of anti-corona measures, there will be funds for basically everyone. So make sure you are eligible and receive some. And expect more anti-corona crisis packages in the future. Government money can cover some of your losses and give you a much needed boost to get back to normal as fast as possible.
In Pivot we trust!
I’ve heard of a small entrepreneur running a restaurant. Then the quarantine came and he had to close down. He looked around and asked himself: who needs help at the moment? Quickly he found an opportunity. Delivery businesses are booming. Due to the quarantine most of the shopping is done online and companies have issues with delivery. So quickly he rented a few more vans and transformed his cooks and waiters into delivery guys. For the time being he will make money this way. Not much, but enough to survive.
It is a time of crisis. Everyone is facing change. Lots of people are petrified by it. Unable to make a decision, they wait while the situation gets worse day by day. Now is not the time to wait or to think too much. Now is the time to react. You have to do something today. Make a decision and pivot if necessary.