The hardship some individuals and businesses are going through (and sadly, are yet to go through) cannot be underestimated, but with constant media coverage of bad news (as was the case even before a global pandemic) we’re at risk of falling into a self-fulfilling prophecy of ‘doom’.
It’s impossible to escape everything that’s going wrong at the moment (economy, environment, political instability etc), to the extent that it’s tempting to give up before we’ve started investing nearly enough time and effort to put things right. We have to try and keep some level of optimism lest we give up completely.
From a business perspective, while we witness the sad demise of some big brand names, there’s some comfort in the thought that some of the biggest brands around today have come out of times of hardship or recession – Netflix, AirBnB and most recently, Zoom to name but a few. While a global pandemic has forced us to change some of our behaviours and reconsider our values and priorities, a giant ‘reset’ button has been pressed which presents new opportunities….
Nobody has a crystal ball and I doubt even the most seasoned futurologist would be able to accurately predict what life will be like in 5 years, but some fundamental shifts in behaviour and attitudes are taking place which we need to pay attention to in order to anticipate future needs: a move to more home-working is one, and one that has a potentially huge ripple effect.
For instance, it might prompt a migration away from city living, which in turn would have implications on smaller communities and the services, facilities and products they require. And for bigger cities, what will the demographic left be like and will they still want the same things?
All very complicated, but fascinating, and surely these big behaviour shifts must present hidden opportunities.
Many businesses have been forced to take stock, avoid dilution of effort and focus on what genuinely delivers to consumer needs. It’s a hugely important time for brands to show what they’re made of above and beyond just ‘selling’ to consumers - let’s face it, many of us feel a lot less like spending with 1 in 2 people now on reduced incomes*. But communication is crucial here; the last thing consumers want to see is marketing activity that seems to be exploiting a pandemic or ‘greenwashing’. Consumers want authentic, clear and transparent messaging – something that is far more likely to build loyalty to a brand.
Most of us are pretty much crying out for some reassurance and good news right now, so the more the conversation focusses on the positives and the achievements and developments being made in businesses, science and technology, the more likely we are to get into a ‘positive loop’.
Here’s to keeping our glasses at least half full. Not always easy but now more than ever, essential.