What marketers should know about the ‘new normal’
Local and international media have been using the term “new normal” to refer to new realities, new ways of doing or understanding brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. But what does this exactly mean to marketers?
Allow me to share my perspective on this:
1. We are not going back to any of the old normal we had adjusted to every time there was a crisis (political, economic or health), at least not soon, at least not until vaccines are available. This means we need to acknowledge new consumer behavior—increased mindfulness of safety, greater attention to health and wellness, preference for work from home, better eating, time spent with family, fewer nonessentials, frugality, review of life’s purpose and digital acceleration.
2. For lack of economic activities and consumer spending, the Philippines will have its first recession since the Asian financial crisis 1997-1998, with negative economic growth in both the first and second quarters of 2020. Marketing will be done amid recession where value and value for money instead of just price become much more important.
3. In terms of workforce, out of some 44 million workers in the Philippines, unemployment before COVID-19 was at 5.1 percent while underemployment was at 14 percent. The National Economic and Development Authority anticipates a double-digit unemployment rate this year based on the 2.2 million people who already lost their job as of the first week of April 2020. If at 15 percent unemployment, an additional 4 million people will not have a job; at 20 percent, an additional 6 million. In the United States, 26 percent of their workforce, or equivalent to 41 million people filed for unemployment insurance as of May 28 with 2.1 million people filing for claims the week before. These unemployed will have to look for alternative income sources.
4. We can learn from countries who experienced the new normal ahead, countries like Vietnam, which, despite their low COVID-19 death rates, are not taking any chances until vaccines are available. The future of the Philippines is already happening elsewhere, as we speak.
• In churches, no holy water, no singing of hymns, nor saying of amen, and some even need to book “social distancing” seats ahead.
• In restaurants, thermal scanners are used, disposable plastic provided to store face mask, tables 5 feet apart and/or with dividers, plus no speaking while eating.
• In salons, and barber shops plastic dividers are everywhere and magazines are no longer given to waiting guests.
• In beaches, sunbathing and water games are not allowed.
5. These new realities have turned the traditional key success factors on their head, and a strength had become a weakness overnight. For instance, restaurants and food kiosks which are unable to open hundreds or thousands of their stores, now have to compete with a lot of smaller providers who are tapping the power of delivery apps and the new found commercial role of Viber/Telegram. These online marketplace platforms also use purchase recommendations from community dealers and the regular members of the group.
6. Tweaking the business model is now the prime activity of businesses to survive. Marketers must be comfortable with words like shift, pivot, reset and repurpose, looking at the bigger picture business model first before any good marketing can be executed. (Note: A free video titled “8 Things to Evaluate in your Business Model During COVID” is available at the Continuum Academy website.)
7. There will be winners and “losers” in the new normal, and the new normal can even be a better normal. Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. announced a 12-percent increase in sales and 448-percent increase in profit for the first quarter of 2020. Within one week’s time from lockdown, Bounty Agro launched over 100 rolling stores selling Chooks-to-Go and dressed chickens. They struggled at first but kept pivoting quickly until they got it right. They also sold live chicken as well as to local government units.
8. This unprecedented new normal requires new leadership, a leadership that draws from one’s very core, a heroic kind of leadership. Understandably, people need to go through the process of loss—some are still in denial, hoping for things to go back to business as usual; some are releasing frustrations or even ranting in anger at being helpless, criticizing others who are trying to survive, perhaps to gain some semblance of control. To carry everyone in his or her team through this crisis and into the new normal, the leader we need at this time must remain positive and acknowledge new realities, learning the importance of critical thinking in the business model, and be action-oriented. Now is the time to be brave. —CONTRIBUTED
Josiah Go is chair and chief innovation strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc. Follow him at www.josiahgo.com
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