Weathering the storm isn’t enough: The trillion dollar post-COVID question
Business leaders are now re-evaluating the impact of Covid-19 on their organizations and looking to what’s next.
Companies experienced the changes deeply and in real time.
The Covid-19 pandemic led to massive disruptions in all our lives, and major changes in consumer behavior on a scale rarely seen in modern history. Across regions, cultures, income levels and demographic groups, we are all doing things very differently — which has significant implications for businesses, especially in innovation.
Organizations are experiencing the changes deeply and in real time. Few brands were spared from upheaval. There continue to be winners and losers: e-commerce has boomed, while many big-name retailers have gone bust. Videoconferencing has surged, as have sales of legacy food brands (think canned soup and boxed macaroni and cheese), as homebound families and individuals alike have turned to packaged products for comfort and convenience. Airlines are muddling through and ridesharing companies have slumped. Meanwhile home rental platforms initially faltered but have recently come back strong, as remote work empties urban centers.
The challenge now is for companies to figure out which of these changes in consumer behavior will remain relevant, and which are likely to disappear. The New York Times reports that consumers are sitting on a trillion-dollar mountain of cash. Will they spend it on frozen pizzas, puzzles, sweat pants, gardening tools and home improvement projects, as they did under stay-at-home orders? Or will they splurge on fine dining, a villa in Tuscany or a new wardrobe?
An equally important question: how will brands avoid becoming a cautionary tale in the post-Covid world by converting these shifts in consumer behavior into sustained growth?
One of the many valuable lessons learned over the past year was the rate of adoption of emerging technology across all demographics. Seven-year-olds are just as comfortable with videoconferencing as their grandparents are using QR codes. Is this the shape of things to come, or simply a matter of brands being in the right place at the right time?
Clearly, the ground is shifting so quickly that as we come out of the Covid crisis, it’s nearly impossible to accurately forecast how open people will be to trying new offerings, or whether they will simply retreat to the familiar, or perhaps a combination of both. With such looming uncertainties, brand leaders must keep the following in mind:
Make a commitment to innovation
Speed up experimentation
Create a flexible ecosystem
An ecosystem of complementary products and services is not a single vision of the future, but rather a living roadmap that can be altered over time. It allows you to mix and reconfigure offerings as both market conditions and competition evolve.
Regardless of how your brand fared during the pandemic, the transition to a post-Covid economy will likely be equally challenging. There are incredible opportunities opening up in every sector, and therefore good reason to be optimistic and excited about the future.