Thursday, January 21, 2021

Pivoting Your Business During COVID


Some businesses have been the beneficiaries of the COVID-19 pandemic. They were either in the right place at the right time or they seized an opportunity created by the pandemic. Disinfectant product sales were up 230% in March and April of 2020. Clorox has enjoyed great success in 2020. Zoom has become a household word and those of us who regularly attend business meetings likely now use the Zoom platform on a regular basis. Amazon's Jeff Bezos' net worth exploded by $72 billion in 2020. Other online stores and marketplaces such as Wayfair and Etsy have also seen their revenues and profits soar. Pandemic-fueled online shopping has also been very kind to PayPal and other online payment systems. Due to at-home boredom, Facebook and other social media platforms have seen huge increases in usage and associated advertising revenues. Netflix added 26 million new subscribers in the first half of 2020. Grubhub, Uber Eats and DoorDash are all benefiting from the pandemic. UPS and FedEx have experienced record revenues. As people are spending more time in their homes, they are investing in home amenities. Three of my four neighbors added elaborate decks with fire pits and outdoor kitchens to their homes in 2020. Boats and travel trailers have also seen a spike in demand. Vacation rental homes have seen rental nights soar in 2020. And businesses considered to be essential, such as Walmart, have seen their revenues increase significantly.

Other companies have taken advantage of the pandemic in a variety of ways. Many companies have slashed their expenses by reducing their real estate footprints as more and more employees work out of their homes. Other companies have moved their businesses to online platforms. Some local businesses have attracted customers from much larger geographies when they went online. Many churches have seen attendance increase as they switched from live to virtual church services. This transition to online commerce has kept many web designers very busy during the pandemic. Some distilleries have added sanitizer products to their product mixes while other companies have added face masks to their product portfolios. Telemedicine is another industry that has grown significantly due to the pandemic. 

Imagine what an at-home workforce might do to migration pattens and choices of residences. Places with scenic beauty, lower taxes, lower overall costs of living, better school systems, less traffic congestion and similar cultural amenities without all of the hassles of larger cities would stand to benefit from this trend. This also has implications for housing supply and demand and housing prices. Also consider what this might do to office space occupancy and repurposing. The pandemic is also accelerating the demise of brick and mortar retail and especially shopping malls, which are in the midst of being reimagined. 

I have taken my focus groups and brand strategy sessions online and have converted many of my educational offerings from live seminars and workshops to e-learning courses. 

But live theaters, live concerts, live sporting events, airlines, casinos, hotels, restaurants, bars, barbershops and beauty parlors, massage therapists and any other businesses that rely on large crowds or close proximities of people who are not from the same households have suffered. Because of the pandemic and its associated travel restrictions, travel companies and places that depend on tourist spending have also suffered. Which means that many service workers have been fired, furloughed or had their hours significantly reduced. 

Colleges and universities have been particularly hard hit as many have had to give up room and board revenue, while students are less satisfied with tuition rates as more courses are taught online without the social interactions and campus experiences that the students were expecting. Similar issues and frustrations have occurred in delivering primary and secondary education. 

While some people might be counting the months and days until "things get back to normal," it is unwise to have this as an expectation. As the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus said, "change is the only constant in life." And the pandemic has changed a lot. Not only has it changed the fortunes of businesses and individuals, it has also changed business models and even the long-term prospects for some industries. But even further, consider the impact of the pandemic on just one other thing - the environment. Due to decreased commuting, the air got cleaner and millions fewer animals died in our roads. On the less positive side, due to significantly increased online shopping and food delivery, packaging materials have increased almost exponentially. And speaking of the environment, the COVID-19 pandemic is not likely to be the last pandemic in our lifetimes given global climate change. Nor will it be the last disruptive biological, extreme weather or migration event in our lifetimes given the same. The one thing we can count on for the foreseeable future is change and lots of it. 

So, what does all of this mean for you and your businesses and brands? It means that change has already occurred, or if not, it will likely need to occur. And when that change does occur, you may need help rethinking your business model and repositioning your brand to better align them with and to take advantage of the new realities. This is where BrandForward can help. We specialize in helping organizations reformulate business strategies and reposition brands. This includes discovering new revenue streams and new ways that brands can serve their customers. If you are interested in learning more about this service, contact me at vanauken@brandforward.com. 

I wish you and your businesses and brands much success in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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