The Cryogenic Freezers and the Opportunity Seekers
It’s been very interesting to see how companies have been reacting to this new world in which we find ourselves. A general observation shows me that two very distinct camps are forming.
On the one side, companies seem to be going into hibernation. Cryogenic freezing of activity and spend, to sit it out and wait for the storm to pass.
Others are using it as an opportunity. A chance to gain new territory in a brand new landscape. There have been some wonderful, and rapidly executed examples of new digital services coming out that have been reinvented to meet the change in need.
Let’s face it, the world just became way more digital. The need to innovate was always there, and perhaps the flame wasn’t burning hard enough for some companies.
But innovation just became a must.
Easy times create, or allow for, weak products, less than perfect customer journeys, ill thought value propositions and minimal differentiation . Tough times create amazing products. Amazing products create easy times, repeat...
I think I don’t need to convince anyone too hard that we’re now entering tough times. The days of ‘getting by’ with less than perfect customer experiences are gone. Every cloud...
We should all be thinking how to play and behave in our new playground. It’s a complete reset. In fresh territory, brand leaders haven’t been established yet, the opportunity to reinvent who we are and meet a new customer need has never been greater.
Back to the original categorisation of the two camps, the cryogenic freezers and the opportunity seekers; I see two factors in pushing brands into the first category..
1) They have no clear path or strategy to pivot their offering to remain relevant.
2) Their current service, or acquisition strategy, simply isn’t compatible with the tight social restrictions we all find ourselves in.
Let’s take the first - pivoting to remain relevant. Doing nothing should never be an option. This isn’t the time to play safe and bury your head in the sand. It’s a complete mindset phenomenon, a fight or flight response.
We’re seeing ‘fight’ everywhere, and it’s really encouraging. What’s strange is local pubs and restaurants seem to be showing more grit and determination than large businesses who simply can’t see a way forward. The hospitality industry changed overnight when they were asked to close. Did they shut up shop and hibernate, or did they..
- Remodel the needs of their customers
- Remodel their marketing strategy
- Remodel their acquisition journeys
- Repurpose their valuable assets to meet these needs
Admittedly it’s on a small scale, but they’ve done all 4. Most pubs and restaurants are now offering a pick up service. They worked out what their customers are going to need, they’ve made their new service clear (billboards, facebook updates), they’ve fixed the acquisition journey through online or telephone ordering, and finally they’ve maximised their current assets of their pizza oven and staff.
This 4 stage approach will work exactly the same for all businesses across the board. Albeit more complexities fall into play. But all reinvention relies on value proposition, marketing, and digital services to some degree. Our strategy team are currently working tirelessly with all of our clients on these very 4 steps - there is no time to be complacent. We’re already seeing that with even the tiniest of nudges, UX changes or messaging, positive changes can happen.
Importantly it’s about mapping out the customer journey, identifying areas of anxiety, or sections of the process no longer possible (appointments for example) and communicating alternatives and workarounds, early in the journey.
Remaining relevant can also be a bit more abstract. Maybe you’re allowed to still be open and operate as a business, but in tougher economic times, your product or service automatically becomes less relevant. Perhaps it’s more of a luxury item than a necessity and society is pulling back on superfluous spending on luxury items. Again, this comes back to a value proposition piece, but importantly also a recategorisation of what we now consider luxury.
We’re in a state of situational relativity, while it used to be easy to market products based on luxury vs necessity, products and services now are in a constant flux flowing both ways.
Exaggeration for effect, is toilet paper soon to be a luxury? Cusheen Luxury Shea Butter Scented 3 Ply has maintained that position for a while, I guess they tempted fate with that one.
Luxury has been defined as ‘not needed for ordinary, day-to-day living’, well ordinary day to day living is a fading memory.
Let’s not give up because we think our products and services don’t fall under the category of necessity. Now more than ever people will be looking to enrich their lives beyond basic human need due to the mental strain we find ourselves in, locked up indoors all day. Yes people are spending less to save money, but they’re also spending more to save their sanity. Don’t focus on the former.
Anyone tried to buy a trampoline recently? Fully sold out. Arguably a luxury item a few weeks back. But any parent today will argue with strong conviction that some respite for them and exercise for their kids is an absolute necessity.
Where your product sat in the continuum before isn’t where it sits now. Your value proposition is now out of date, which is why some companies are struggling to see themselves as relevant and deciding instead to pause activity.
Again, survival, and even growth, requires the remodelling of the needs of our customers, and reimagining how to use your valuable assets in order to meet those needs. What worked last month won’t work today, but that doesn’t mean do nothing.
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