Everything Will Be Alright Dear Brand & Retail Industry

This is about an expert pandemic, future pacing, a little bit of motivation and no bad news at all. From your blog’s curators.

Before this post reaches you, it went through five different incarnations in six weeks of lockdown. It started out very German in tone ‘this will get very dirty before it is over’, to shift to ‘how to stop your cash bleeding’, until it gradually reached its current Italian mood, ‘andrà tutto bene’.

‘Andrà tutto bene’, the Italian way of tackling COVID 19 (Photo: pietroluca99 on Flickr)

‘Everything will be alright’, because whatever country you call home, whatever company you are with – if you rely on brick and mortar distribution, things will get very tough. So best get on board with that ‘andrà tutto bene’ mood to emerge on high energy.

Will Covid-19 Change Things?

Did you know that consultants who are pushed off projects traditionally get the task to create new studies, to feed sales? And if you are good at selling, you know how to create pain. With this at the back of your mind, it won’t come as complete surprise that the last six weeks saw 1000+ market studies pop up about what to expect from Covid-19 and how to best prepare for post-pandemic times.

Home office – experts’ study ‘kitchen’, and the source of pain for writers and readers alike (Photo: Chris Spiegl)

It’s unlikely any of us escaped reading a study or two, only to feel frustration the many different scenarios, forecasts and recipes. From how the lockdown will destroy international trade entirely, all the way to how the pandemic will change people for the better. Some of those reports and think pieces are certainly interesting reads, but not particularly helpful in securing your company finances or finding clarity on your own direction.

To share our very favourite forecast: Early on in the crisis, German satire magazine Der Postillon predicted that we will face a “dangerous increase in [Covid] experts.”

The Postillon saw it all coming (Graphic: Postillon)

Very true. But what else can we expect – when governments relegate so many experts to home confinement, they can’t help themselves but share their expertise in writing.

DIY Your Market Scenario

At Brand Growth Inspiration, we invite you to conduct your own small study instead. The method we recommend is called future pacing, a well-established coaching technique that helps gain positive energy in a moment of crisis. Looking back at today from a future year or event, your perspective on current events can change significantly.

What good came out of this for your community and for your business? (Collage: Brand Pilots)

Try it! Take a five minute break, let your mind jump to 2029, and put down on paper 10 developments that you can imagine in your industry, which all started in 2020. It works and, in a way, that’s the secret behind ‘andrà tutto bene’. You just might re-emerge from these five minutes having defined 2020 as a turning point, a moment of big learnings and a starting point for major changes, to the industry, to your company, as well as to yourself.

Crisis as a Catalyst for Change

We are no dreamers, but it seems likely that one day we may characterise the time before Covid-19 as an era of ‘total global trade’ and ‘consumption on speed’. Covid-19 allowed time for reflection and accelerated some long overdue changes. We will likely see severely hit societies, as Italy, Spain or the UK face major takeaways and change. The opportunity for change increases dynamically with the impact of experiences. For those working from their home office, for example, the experience as well as subsequent change will be different than for those working in a hospital.

(Collage: Brand Pilots)

Covid 19 will definitively bring changes to our industry, though it is unclear what. Maybe Donald Schneider (Studio Berlin) had the best way of putting it: “We will see a change in marketing and communication, new definitions of b.c. and a.c., that is, the time before corona and after corona.”

We agree, but not only in terms of the marketing communication Donald is referring to, also in terms of business practice and strategy.

The high priestess of fashion in sweatpants – a PR accident or a glimpse of the a.c.? (Photo: Anna Wintour on Facebook)

What Will Change?

It doesn’t take much to forecast that store closures will have gotten even the most stubbornly old-school retailer to realise that there is no future without online. We are also optimistic that traditional financial values, such as having cash flow or a high equity ratio, will see a monumental comeback.

We also expect that supply chains will be better balanced and less dependent on one major country. But whether that will translate into more local manufacturing remains to be seen. For medical and other system-relevant supplies, certainly. But more domestic fashion and footwear manufacturing may turn out to be a figment of social optimists’ imagination. Also difficult to come true:  Giorgio Armani shared his hopes for Covid-19 to slow down fast fashion and see longevity prevail.

Giorgio himself, dressing a store window. Is this the a.c. quality of management we can expect? (Photo: Stephano Scalia on Facebook)

That would be an amazing feat, but one that requires reversing the evolution of humankind that has us accustomed to the fast eating the slow. While Covid-19 guarantees a big impact, that may be too much to hope for. We would already be happy if our favourite pandemic hashtags #supportyourlocal and #strongertogether turn into long-term industry values.

Everything Will Be Alright

But before we get to see light at the end of the tunnel, we have to cope with today’s challenges. Being of different nationalities, living in cities around the world, and experiencing Covid-19 differently had all of us on our toes – some losing friends or family, and most fighting to stop the industry bleeding.

We won’t stop this crisis, but we can all decide what we learn from it for our communities, for our businesses, and for ourselves. ‘Andrà tutto bene’ is what we choose to move on with. Let’s make the best of it and emerge with all the energy that is needed to get to 2029 in good health and shape.

We look forward to seeing you open and thriving again (Collage: Brand Pilots)

We will emerge from ‘contributors’ lockdown’ in June and gradually return to our regular weekly schedule. Until then, stay scenario resilient and expert vaccinated. Mille Grazie, and looking forward to having you back healthy and optimistic, thriving in a.c. times.

The Brand Growth Inspiration Team

 

(Featured image credit: Gennaro Leonardi / Shutterstock.com)

 

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