A round-up of the most important insights and what they mean for your business.
cut through the noise
With the news cycle on hyperdrive, we know it’s difficult to stay on top of the Covid-19 latest. It’s even more difficult to unpick the significant insights for your business. The Business Briefing is your one-stop shop for the most important insights, with valuable analysis and opinion from our Etch experts. We’ll take you through this week’s latest on the economic outlook, emerging consumer behaviours and the implications for organisational and cultural change.
Welcome to the latest Etch business briefing. In this snapshot of the week, we wade through the melee of Covid-19 updates, articles and thought pieces so you don’t have to.
Preparing for longer-term social distancing and economic fallout
When pressed on the anticipated shape and nature of post-crisis economic recovery, former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King replied, ‘In honesty…we don’t know,’ onBBC Radio 4’s Fallout: The Global Economy programme. According to show’s analysts, the UK’s future economic outlook depends on the nature of the crisis, the success of social distancing, the availability of a vaccine or treatment and the effectiveness of the government’s policy response. That said, any hope of a very rapid economic ‘bounce back’ is probably over-optimistic. Recovery could be protracted, with sectors like travel and hospitality affected for much longer periods. Social inequality is likely to deepen, with social distancing measures disproportionately hitting lower income earners’ ability to work. The Economist’s Editor-in-Chief forebodes that the economy after Covid-19, ‘is not going to be the same as the economy before Covid.’
Understanding rising personal financial fears and anxiety
Anxiety is mounting as UK consumers grapple with financial worries, health concerns and weeks spent in social isolation. According to GWI,46% of respondents are worried about their country’s economic situation. According to Brandwatch, one in three work social posts this week have discussed unemployment and relatedchallenges. They are growing calls to waive financial fees, not least for late mortgage and credit card payments. ‘How to claim 80 percent of wages’ is the second highest ‘how to’ Covid-19 question trending in the UK onGooglethis week.
Now consumers have had a taste for the heightened convenience of virtual health consultations, the prospect of taking time out of a working day to sit in a doctors’ waiting room seems laughably antiquated. As consumers across every age group become more accustomed to virtual interactions, we see consumers post-crisis expecting virtual services as standard – and we see this transcending remote health services.
While we anticipate rising consumer expectations around virtual healthcare appointments, we also expect heightened expectations around virtual interior design consultations, virtual fashion consultations and even virtual property viewings. Asconsumers visit museums and zoos from the comfort of their own home, we believe this will change travel research behaviours. Consumers will want to validate their holiday choices by firstly conducting virtual walkarounds of attractions, hotels and restaurants. For a glimpse into the virtual retail services future we envisage, take a look atJohn Lewis’ Instagram personal styling service, launched this week. Consumers receive free remote fashion inspiration and advice via video call. To register, consumers just need to direct message their preferred John Lewis stylist on Instagram.
Building imaginative workplace cultures
Throughout this crisis, China (notably Wuhan) has been treated as a crystal ball. We look to Wuhan for indications of the effectiveness of healthcare measures, consumer behaviour and commercial performance. An interesting case that crossed our desk this week was Wuhan cosmetic company Lin Oingxuan. Forced to close 40% of stores under Covid-19, the company retrained its store beauty advisors to become online influencers, using tools such as WeChat to engage customers and increase online revenue. Remarkably,the company achieved 200% sales growth in Wuhan compared to 2019.
It's difficult to predict which consumer behaviours will stick post-crisis...
But what is clear is that habits, attitudes, and needs are changing and doing so at remarkable speed. Companies who have the ability to flex and adapt very rapidly are going to be better placed to maintain performance now and accommodate new behaviours and market dynamics in the future. Doing so requires agility, bravery and importantly imagination. Under pressure, it’s easy to dismiss imagination as fanciful, impractical and even a little self-indulgent. But thinking imaginatively, rather than reactively, now about your business’ future and shaping new opportunities can create real commercial value. According to a stellar Harvard Business Review article published this week,in recessions and downturns, 14% of companies outperform both historically and competitively, because they invest in new growth areas. To quote the authors,
We couldn’t agree more.
[Accurate as of midday Thursday 16thApril]
A FEW QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:
How robust are your scenario plans? Are you commercially prepared for longer term social distancing?
Are your communications appropriate in the current climate, given consumers’ health concerns, financial fears and emotional states?
How can you (appropriately) alleviate or offer escapism from consumers’ fears? Can you spread joy? Can you drive nostalgia and comfort? Can you foster civic pride? Can you provide entertainment and humour? Can you give away margins to support keyworkers or the vulnerable?
How can you help consumers stay motivated through the crisis as isolation fatigue sets in and anxieties rise? Can you give them control, purpose and value?
How are you digitising your business operations now to meet post-crisis consumer expectations? What virtual services will consumers expect from you as standard?
How are you building a workplace culture that celebrates and cultivates imagination?
Every day we will be sharing key business insights on our social channels. Each week we will round up our daily posts into a pivotal weekly digest. And if that’s not enough, we’ll be hosting regular webinars to talk through what it means for your customers, your sector and your business. So, keep an eye out on our social channels for upcoming webinars.