Forget what you know. Forget the KPIs you have been focusing your business on for the past years and months. Forget the well-designed customer journey you have orchestrated. Forget the value proposition you have been trying to deliver.
Instead, start to rethink your business and everything around it. The current global crisis ignited by the COVID-19 virus will require a fundamental shift for many companies and brands in order to survive and generate new growth.
Digital transformation is the beginning. Not the end
The first fast adaptors to the effects of the Corona crisis were fast to digitalize their business. Suddenly we could experience live concerts online. Do yoga online. Get physiotherapy online. Services previously reserved for physical experiences only. Telehealth accelerated. 3D-printing of protective equipment took off. Others were fast to refocus their delivery model and messaging by offering free and fast delivery, free returns, flexible point of delivery opportunities, take away gourmet menus etc. to instil security and convenience. That was the first wave of an important transformation.
Fundamental shifts ahead
Now we are beginning to look into the next wave of long-term transformation as the crisis casts long shadows into the future. Even though politicians are trying their best to minimize the economic consequences of the crisis and are ready to stimulate consumption in the aftermath, long-term consequences are unavoidable. Even though customers are longing for normality, many have to adjust to a new reality. Whether an economic comeback is coming fast or slow, the Corona crisis has altered the mind-set of the customers.
In the majority of the Western world, we have in recent times been focused entirely on the individual needs related to self-realization, as we remember good old but still valid Abraham Maslow. Businesses and brands have competed to deliver dreams, promises, products and services to meet those needs. As the Corona crisis continues, we will see more fundamental shifts in values, needs and behaviour. We will, in other words, move down in the hierarchy of needs, and businesses and brands must respond to this. As unemployment grows, job security and economic security overshadow other needs. Health and safety concerns are naturally on the rise. Rising insecurity increases the need for finding stability and security by moving closer to family and friends to seek intimacy and a stronger sense of belonging.
This is not dystopia but reality. Unemployment in the US is up by 20 million. In Denmark, the number is 50,000, and on a global level, the number is expected to reach 200 million unemployed directly related to COVID-19. Countless numbers of companies have introduced collective wage cuts. Consumption is down – in Denmark corresponding to the economic value of the current entire Danish unemployment rate equivalent to 180,000 people. State funds reserved for welfare initiatives are now being used to minimize the consequences of the crisis. People are canceling sport memberships for themselves and their kids like never before. Domestic violence is rising and an increase in divorces is expected. And so, the list continues.
Rethink your business to stay relevant
To adapt, businesses must continue their transformation as we move into an era characterized by overshadowing digitalization combined with a stronger focus on needs related to security, safety, stability and belonging. Naturally, we must distinguish between temporary, postponed, accelerated or disturbed needs and attitudes, and new, more permanent patterns of needs and behaviour.
The brands and businesses that are able to respond to the new patterns will also thrive post Corona. This means discovering digitally powered solutions, products and services that respond to a society that is moving down in the hierarchy of needs. In other words. Be prepared to rethink everything.
Real change is often powered by a sense of urgency that shakes you out of the comfort zones. COVID-19 is that sense of urgency that can drive the real change of your business and bring it even stronger into a post-Corona era.
Finding the way with scenario thinking
The high volatility in customer needs and behaviour makes it difficult to find confidence in how to move forward. This is combined with the fact that no one has any previous experience to build on, as the Corona crisis with all its facets has never been seen before. To overcome this, you should build on scenario thinking. With scenario thinking, you build different scenarios for how your business becomes digitally powered and responds to the new and changing needs and behaviour of the customers. Each scenario is then unfolded across your value chain all the way to how you connect with the customers.
By applying scenario thinking, you reduce the risk of failure as you get empowered to envision how different digitally powered solutions are delivered and communicated. In that way, you can weigh them against each other to find the scenario with the highest potential all together. And by doing so you become adaptable to change in these turbulent times we are experiencing.
“In times of great change, it is not the strongest or cleverest that survive, but the ones most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin
Reach out if you need help
If you need help figuring out what path to take both now in the coming months and beyond, please don’t hesitate to reach out.