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Logistics and Supply Chain Management when unrest hits South Africa

When unrest hits SA - IMM Blog Image

The recent unrest in South Africa and particularly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng demonstrates how fragile the local, national and international supply chain and pipelines are. After experiencing the continued onslaught of COVID-19, the latest and almost unabated riots, pillage and attacks on people and property have created even greater impacts on general life in South Africa as well as critical shortages of food, medication, vaccines, fuel and other vitals in many suburbs in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. It goes without saying that political undercurrents can cause disruptions in sourcing, manufacturing and transportation in a supply chain, denying people of the fulfilment of much-needed physiological and security needs as per Maslow’s famous Hierarchy.

 

Supply chain management’s (SCM) solid foundation lies in logistics and the 13 activities pertaining thereto. Its main objectives are to get the right product, to the right place, to the right customer, in the right quantities, at the right price, in the right condition and very importantly the right time. When unexpected riots and mayhem occur, every single right is negatively affected because need-satisfying products and services cannot reach customers who have become deprived of possession utility, even though they have the means to pay for the offerings.

 

PicknPay Looting - IMM Blog Image

 

The thought of potential deprivation as a result of such havoc has the unpleasant consequence of herd behaviour, leading to Maslow’s hierarchy becoming almost meaningless as people procure not what they need but rather what they want. The resultant chaotic ‘feeding-frenzy’ behaviour plays into the hands of the perpetrators of the unrest as what little is left for the community to buy after the wake of the unmasked marauders’ looting, is selfishly purchased by inconsiderate consumers, without giving any thought to the elderly, the poor and needy, the infirmed and the shoppers behind them.

 

As mentioned above, because of the violent upheaval, the right products are not reaching desperate consumers and businesses resulting in even basic consumables such as bread, vegetables, milk, eggs and so on being deprived because of shortages at retail level and the hi-jacking of trucks trying their best to deliver their cargos.

 

The right places sadly have been burned down and destroyed and the content stolen not by the starving but by vandals who blindly obey those who are hungry for power. The right customers (in this case consumers and business owners) have been denied possession utility as the offerings are not being delivered to their retailers or even their homes (as a result of online buying), with the result that people are literally starving as the freebooters purposely and violently plunder the stores and transport trucks.

 

Because of the illegal actions of these uncaring ransackers, there is a dire dearth of food, mediation, fuel and essential services, resulting in the right quantities not being forthcoming, thereby providing selfish opportunists scope to charge what they will (up to R70 for a loaf of bread and R80 for a litre of petrol) … making a joke of getting offerings to customers at the right price. What does come through, when it does, is oftentimes of poor quality, especially perishable products such as fresh vegetables and fruit (not the right condition), which usually arrive late (if one is lucky), resulting in the products not arriving when customers need and want them.

 

Game Looting - IMM Blog Image

Although attempting to pen this comment is like shooting at a moving target, one thing is certain and that is the ramifications of this chaos, both social and financial, will be felt for years to come.

 

From a Supply Chain Management perspective, the once solid supply pipeline has become permanently fractured as offshore and onshore organisations ponder whether to operate under this fragile blanket of uncertainty, move offshore to a safer and more secure environment or even conduct business with South Africa at all. Either way, all South Africans will bear the brunt of escalating prices, longer and more uncertain lead times, input shortages and above all reputational damage that will take eons to heal.

 

How Covid-19 increased consumerism despite many losing their jobs and streams of income

Consumerism - IMM Blog Image

By March 2020, most of the world was put into mandatory lockdown after the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic (read more about that here). This meant that consumers were following stay-at-home orders and were restricted to leaving the house for essential services and  shopping only.

For many people, upskilling, taking on a new hobby or not wanting to forgo their daily routines meant that the purchases of gym equipment, for example, increased as people were now limited to going to the gym. With many people losing their jobs or primary streams of income due to lockdowns, lots of people opted to open up home businesses turning their hobbies into products or services.

Instagram - IMM Blog Image

For many people, upskilling, taking on a new hobby or not wanting to forgo their daily routines meant that the purchases of gym equipment, for example, increased as people were now limited to going to the gym. With many people losing their jobs or primary streams of income due to lockdowns, lots of people opted to open up home businesses turning their hobbies into products or services.

Anything from candle-making, to monetising social media streams, to home delivery foods, people did their best to stay afloat and in turn, communities everywhere turned to supporting small businesses so much so that Instagram added a “small business” tool onto their platform to help others promote their favourite small, locally owned business – read more about that here.

 

Image credit: Instagram

What did consumers shop for most during lockdown?

In many parts of the world, panic buying ensued with retailers globally forced to limit the number of purchases of high-demand items (such as hand sanitiser and toilet paper) per shopper. A leading financial institute, JP Morgan, published their findings in an article and relayed that:  “For the world’s largest personal care, food and drink companies, data showing which products sold the most tells the story of how consumers spent their time and money during lockdown” noting that “flat growth followed by a huge spike — double digit growth. That is very rare for this industry and was totally prompted by the lockdown and the fact that people couldn’t get out,” said Celine Pannuti, Head of European Staples and Beverages Research at J.P. Morgan.

 

Lockdown Purcheses - IMM Blog ImageJP Morgan breaks down what consumers seemed to purchase the most during lockdowns across Europe and the United States of America in 2020 into four main purchase categories:

Soaps and Household Cleaners: sales of household cleaning and disinfectant products increased greatly. Sales of cleaning wipes in the U.S. increased by over 100% in the first three months of the year, relative to a year ago, followed by a 60% surge in the second quarter and sales continued to grow by over 15% in the third quarter. In the third quarter sales of aerosol disinfectants climbed 120%, as did sales of dishwasher detergents and general kitchen cleaners, which have increased around 40%.

Vitamins and Supplements: Amid the pandemic, consumers also loaded up on vitamins and supplements. Revkitt Benckiser grew U.S. sales by approximately 50% in the first half of the year and maintained that momentum in the third quarter (+26%).

 

Coffee - IMM Blog Image

 

 

Hair Color: As a result of the lockdown, home hair color products have become particularly popular in the United States and Europe. For companies like L’Oreal and Henkel, sales of hair color were up over 30% in the second quarter of the year.

Coffee: Many workers around the world began working from home during the lockdown, and coffee became a popular drink. Thus, Nestlé saw fresh roast coffee sales grow by around a third in Europe, while in the US, Starbucks at-home products, Nescafé and Coffee-Mate grew at double-digit rates.

 

The boost in e-Commerce shopping and the logistics of it

Despite the logistics industry taking a knock as countries locked down (read more about that here) and the mobility of transporting of goods had been pushed back, globally, e-commerce shopping across all industries increased this past year as panicked consumers looked for hand sanitiser, groceries, and skincare products online.

Typically these items were also sought out in bulk. A McKinsey report suggests that consumers spent $211.5 billion on e-commerce during the second quarter of 2020, an increase of 31.8% from the first. With more shoppers going to the internet for their shopping, e-commerce now makes up 16.1% of all U.S. sales  and this trend appears set to continue as non-essential businesses, restaurants and retailers start reopening. In the graph below, McKinsey’s report illustrates how e-commerce boosted more than ever before during the pandemic.

 

e-commerce Growth - IMM Blog Image

 

Conclusion

Despite the fact that many people lost their primary streams of income, many people dipped into their savings, others opted to open up small businesses and some were afforded government compensation. The increase in consumerism during the pandemic has spiked particularly via e-commerce. Online shopping has risen and that includes delivery services. While the continuation of this increase in consumerism is probable, analysts await the outcomes of consumer behaviour in the next year.

Good leadership in the post-pandemic world

Leadership Image - IMM Blog

According to Forbes, the true value of a high-performing team and the effectiveness of its leader become all the more visible during major disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic. A team’s resilience is characterised by its ability to pivot, rebound and continually innovate its way out of an impossible situation. In reference to a leadership style, the acronym ‘A.G.I.L.E.’, Forbes states, produces an “approachable, grounded, innovative, leveraging and empathic” leader. These are arguably non-negotiable characteristics that leaders today need to demonstrate if their teams are to survive the impacts of COVID-19.

Let’s break it down.

Team Image - IMM Blog

 

 

 

Approachable aka ‘is friendly and easy to talk to’

Good leaders appreciate that great ideas can come from anyone. It is therefore important for you to operate with an approachable attitude during times of disruption and uncertainty. Team members need to feel that they can come to you with ideas or concerns.

 

 

 

 

 

Team Work - IMM Blog

 

 

Grounded aka ‘is honest, well balanced and sensible’

It is crucial for leaders to lead transparently by being honest so that the team can get a more complete view of any disruptions that the organisation may be facing. Honesty, along with sensible and unemotional responses help a team to better react to and solve the challenges of any particular situation – confidence is gained through clarity.

 

 

 

 

 

Innovative Team - IMM Blog Image

 

 

 

Innovative aka ‘is advanced and original’

Facilitate growth by encouraging creativity and originality – this builds healthy team morale. Innovation is necessary for an organisation to remain relevant and to thrive in a competitive business environment. As a leader you should create an environment that stimulates and rewards creative thinking.

 

 

 

Leverager aka ‘can get more done with less’

As the pandemic has pressured so many businesses to tighten budgets, leaders must maximise resources, and this often involves leveraging the talents already present within the team. Together your team needs to embrace new ways of using technology and other unconventional work styles in order to do more with less. Incentivise team members to rise to the challenge and you may uncover existing talents that you never knew they had. You may even find that team members volunteer for certain roles outside their current work scope.

 

Empathetic aka ‘an ability to understand and share the feelings of another’

Whether pre, during or post-COVID, a strong leader always displays empathy and prioritises the wellbeing of their team members. This is a good time for you to prove to your employees that you value them as people and that you understand the challenges their jobs and personal lives present. Showing empathy usually results in loyalty and a higher level of performance.

Good Leader - IMM blog Image

But is that all that it takes to be a good leader?Unhappy Employees Signs

Contrary, the Renoir Group suggests that there is no “best” leadership style and that leadership requires flexibility and the willingness to evolve. Taking into account the uncertainty created by COVID-19 and the complete change it has brought about within the workforce, it is imperative that leadership strategies also change to meet the needs of current times. Good leadership is proactive leadership. Proactive leadership is flexible leadership. Flexibility in turn produces multiple ways to optimise your labour force. As a leader you need to be able to inspire, to explore all avenues available and provide a sense of security for those you are leading. Reigning in the troops by being a source of stability during a pandemic is especially key to the success and sustainability of a company’s success.

Further, low morale as a result of pandemic-anxiety, personal matters or general unhappiness within a company is not something a good leader should accept. Companies don’t take care of employees, the leaders inside that company do.

 

This is what good leadership looks like in a post-pandemic world

Navigating the world in itself during such uncertain times has seen many families and individuals hopeless and helpless. Snap lockdowns, impending new waves of COVID-19 infection cases, a fluctuating economy leading to job insecurity and higher daily expenses, the day-to-day difficulties of living, working from home, surviving with or without familial support, current personal struggles and possibly the loss of a loved one, all contribute to the functionality of an individual, which in turn, affects an entire team.

The Harvard Business Review suggests that poor leadership has a direct impact on employee mental health and might be triggering occupational anxiety disorders. For most, The KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) released a report that suggests the feeling of impending doom and uncertainty due to COVID-19 has seen an increase in anxiety disorders and depressive episodes amongst people across the

age and labour spectrum and thus affects the greater workforce altogether. People desperately need to feel mentally, emotionally and physically safe in their work environment.

Without the security of an empathetic, supportive leader, workers tend to be less productive. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that humanity must prevail to preserve our sanity: Humanity cannot be absent in the workforce, or it will lose the enthusiasm, loyalty and productivity of the worker.

Retaining talent does not only depend on an increase in cheques or benefits, but it also depends highly on the way people feel in their places of work.

In fact, according to Guthrie Jensen, a leading consultancy group, the happier and more grounded employee is 12% more productive, whereas an unhappy, demotivated and discouraged employee is 10% less productive, lacks creativity, determination and generally loses the vigour to succeed. The illustration below shows ways in which employees will show a lack of zest.

 

Conclusion

In order for leaders in any industry to succeed in a post-pandemic world, they must employ a new sense of humaneness unlike before. Prioritising employees is central to productivity and creativity. Good leaders in a post-pandemic world can leverage their organisations to become industry leaders as world economies and industries begin to open up. The key to success at this time is your employees.

Digital vs traditional marketing – how has it been influenced by COVID-19?

Digital vs traditional marketing 1

The debate of whether digital or traditional marketing is most valuable or otherwise more effective is an endless one. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic first hit, the shift towards digital has been exponential as traditional channels for advertising have come under pressure, become a lot more expensive and in some cases, obsolete.

 

As consumers have had to adjust their lifestyle habits during this time, their media habits have also changed; creating very real consequences for the ‘traditional’ media industry and new, accelerated opportunities for its ‘digital’ counterparts.

 

What’s the difference?

When we refer to ‘traditional marketing’, we are including any form of marketing that does not involve the Internet or digital technology. 99Designs passionately describes “The immersive experience of an impactful TV commercial and the tactile nature of a copy of Rolling Stone magazine are as important today as they were 20 years ago because of their lasting effects on your memory. Subconsciously you attach yourself to their brand emotionally, meaning they will stay at the top of your mind.”

Traditional media are just that – tactile and they exist in real time, physically. There are five main categories in this classification:

  • Print Marketing – magazines, newsletters, newspapers and catalogues.
  • Broadcast Marketing – radio, television and cinema.
  • Direct Mail Marketing – pamphlets and brochures.
  • Telephone Marketing – telemarketers or call centres.
  • Outdoor Marketing – billboards, bus stops and posters.

Digital marketing depends on the internet and the platforms it offers for a company to have a presence on it. It includes some of the following types of marketing strategies:

  • Search Engine Optimisation – the process of enhancing the volume and quality of web traffic directed to a website or a web page using keywords most commonly searched.
  • Social Media Marketing – the process of promoting products and services using Social Media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok or LinkedIn.
  • Paid Search Advertising – when companies or organisations pay search engine providers such as Google, Bing or Yahoo to pop up first on a specific search input by consumers.
  • Affiliate Marketing – the practice of an online retailer paying commissions to an external website to run ads or take up ad space on the website, in return for traffic or sales.
  • Email Marketing – works by sending a mass email to a group of people (usually mailing lists or newsletter subscribers) a promotional message that encourages website traffic or sales for example.

 

Death of TVThere are many different views on whether or not traditional media or marketing is dying or not. Those that say no are usually the bigger businesses with massive budgets that continue to plough their money into television, radio and other printed forms of advertising.

The trouble with these forms of media is that they do not appear on a person’s smartphone or tablet. With the whole world looking down these days to the lit-up screen in the palm of their hand, who’s to say they will see your billboard or poster, let alone read a newspaper or magazine? Even if they were to be interested in what you have to say, the effort of going into a physical store or having to memorise the dates and times of your event is just too much when compared to it’s ‘click and buy’ from your smartphone alternatives.

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 has pushed the consumer to digital channels

Let’s review what has been happening in each on the traditional marketing media industries in South Africa recently:

 

Print Media

In July last year (2020), as COVID-19 swept through the country and lockdowns started to roll-out over extended periods, Media24 announced the closure of many of their magazine and newspaper titles. CEO, Ishmet Davidson stated “the pandemic has accelerated the pre-existing and long-term structural decline in print media, resulting in a devastating impact on our own already fragile print media operations with significant declines in both circulation and advertising since April.” Ishmet also stated that Media24 is reshaping to further accelerate its transition to an increasingly digital world.

Magazine and newspaper titles were impacted as follows:

Magazine portfolio:

  • Move! and the Hearst portfolio (Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Bicycling, Runner’s World) have been closed.
  • DRUM was moved into a digital format only.
  • The frequency of the monthly magazines was reduced to six issues per year, and eight issues for tuis | home, SA Hunter/Jagter and Man Magnum.

Newspaper portfolio:

  • Son op Sondag and Sunday Sun have been closed.
  • The Eastern Cape edition of Son has been closed.
  • Die Volksblad and Die Burger Oos-Kaap have been moved to digital editions only.
  • Amanzimtoti Fever, East Griqualand Fever, Hillcrest Fever and Maritzburg Fever have been closed.
  • Several other titles have been consolidated into one.
  • The Witness has moved into a digital format.

 

Cinema

As we move to the big screen, we see a similar picture emerging where Cinema chains like Ster-Kinekor, Nu Metro, Cine Centre as well as other independent cinemas had to close completely for lockdown against an already dwindling attendance backdrop. The lockdown also led to record highs of streaming, with Netflix for example earning around 16 million new customers over the quarantine period. People love to be entertained, and will continue to watch movies, but perhaps they have found a cheaper, more convenient way to get their fix.

 

Television

Not everyone is on Netflix or another alternative streaming channel. According to the Advertising Media Forum (AMF), time spent viewing TV during lock down almost doubled. However, ad spend declined by 27% between March and April last year. This happened as a result of advertisers’ cash flow drying up due to their supply and demand slowing down. So, with a reduction in ad spend and resulting financial strain, we may see further changes in the television broadcasting industry in months to come. According to the Daily Maverick (Jan 2021), the SABC is already struggling and is owed R57.1-million in unpaid television licences and advertising fees by government departments, municipalities and state-owned entities (SOEs): R29.2-million was owed in advertising sales, with R4.5-million owed by SOEs, R9.2-million owed by provincial departments, R13.1-million by national departments and R2.3-million by municipalities.

 

Direct Marketing

While not as a direct result of COVID-19, in January this year MyBroadband reported “The South African Post Office (SAPO) is on the brink of collapse and is facing bankruptcy despite receiving R8 billion in bailouts since 2014.” It also reported that “Notices on the doors of some SA Post Office branches now state “Closed until further notice” without a clear indication of where people can now get services from.”

This is not good news for direct marketing companies or businesses that rely on post as a channel for marketing and has forced them to move their efforts to email. Findings from Statista indicate that there are nearly four billion email users in the world. Campaign Monitor research reported that 72% of people would rather receive marketing materials from brands through their email.

 

Out Of Home (OOH)

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising was one of the worst hit by the pandemic as lockdowns sent people home, away from their offices and CBDs and prevented them from being able to commute or travel nationally and internationally. This has dramatically reduced the amount of people exposed to billboards. This channel is expected to return, but who knows when and how long it will take to return to previous revenue levels as its share of the marketing budget may have already been ‘lost’ to other digital platforms like Google display or social media ads?

 

The benefits of digital media

Social Media and digital marketing have made customer engagement and personalisation so efficient. The benefit of digital marketing from the perspective of advertisers is that it’s so much cheaper for wider reach, than the cost it would be to use a traditional platform for less reach. Other benefits listed by LeGusTry are that digital marketing offers the highest return on ad spend investment, higher exposure to new clientele and higher engagement rates.

 

benefits of digital mediaThis also evens the playing field somewhat in that smaller businesses are now able to compete with bigger corporates in the same markets. Where before, spending thousands of Rands on television and radio adverts were simply not an option.

Unlike traditional media is can be said that digital marketing uses every touch point of your daily use of the internet to reach you.

Conclusion

Marketing is an ever changing industry and marketers are constantly being pushed to new levels to improve sales and drive traffic to their products and services. With the advent of Social Media, the need for traditional marketing techniques has shown a steady decline as more and more consumers have moved away from traditional TV, radio and print media, to news and entertainment via the internet on their mobile devices.

With the unique circumstances COVID-19 is presenting, the demand for traditional advertising channels along with locked down audiences has dwindled. During this time, companies have heavily relied on Digital Marketing strategies to stay relevant and drive sales. The shift to digital does not start or end with the pandemic, but a global lockdown definitely showed the power of social media in the absence of physical movement and real-time, real-life forms of media like billboards and newspapers. The question is whether or not this trend will reverse when COVID-19 is finally a thing of the past.

Covid-19’s impact on supply networks is slowing down the fight against climate change

Solar Energy

 

covid-19Solar energy developers around the world are slowed down by a spike in the costs of materials, labour and transporting as the world economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic (read more about that here). . An Economic Times India article suggests the zero-emissions solar energy market is showing slower growth at a time when world governments are ramping up their efforts against climate change, and marks a reversal to growth after a decade of lowering prices. One of the greatest challenges to solar energy manufacturers is the soaring cost of steel, which has risen three times in the past year, not to mention the unsteady cost of transportation and the uncertainty of when materials will become available for manufacturing to continue. The pandemic has caused inflation to occur at a staggering rate and many industries are struggling to keep up.

What does this mean for climate change

An online poll by Power Technology readers showed that 54.1% believe a pandemic induced recession could hurt renewable energy development, which in turn, puts us further behind in addressing the climate crisis. With the Covid-19 outbreak hitting the global supply chain and single companies alike, renewable energy growth is expected to slow, with projects consistently being delayed or cancelled as a result. The consequence of this is globally the fight against climate change as per the Paris Agreement, will be put on hold for an extended period of time. While the pandemic has forced us to slow down, the rate of climate change has not. A Time article explains that “Every day, due to rising water levels, some part of the world must evacuate to higher ground.”

 

Climate Change

Demand for solar energy

The demand for solar energy is higher now than ever before. More countries are facing longer, hotter summers and the energy source itself can easily be distributed and rerouted into national electricity lines as Australia has already done. The booming demand for solar energy is however only as in demand as it is available and affordable. With the rising costs of solar energy materials and installations, more and more companies and individuals alike could turn it away for a longer period of time than what the earth can afford. Without renewable energy sources like solar energy, the world depends heavily on non-renewable sources like oil and coal. If we don’t act now, Octopus Energy predicts that global oil deposits will deplete by 2052 and coal and natural gasses are expected to last only until 2060 (read more here).

 

Global warming, pandemic

How the pandemic has affected global warming and in turn, slowed down supply chains

Global logistics industry leaders, EY, conducted a survey on the impact of Covid-19 on the industry and its effects on the job market. The report comes as no surprise that only 2% of companies surveyed stated they were fully prepared for the pandemic. 72% of those affected reported experiencing serious disruptions, while 17% reported significant disruptions (55% reported mostly negative effects). The graph provided by EY illustrates this finding.

Pandemic Chart

Although many employees were requested to work remotely, others – especially in factory settings – had to make new arrangements to ensure physical distancing and were required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). High-tech industries and industrial products manufacturers are investing heavily in technology to limit employee exposure to COVID-19.  Additionally, 47% of all companies reported workforce disruptions due to the pandemic. These are just a few examples of changes affecting supply chains across various sectors. Thus it’s unsurprising that more logistics companies are looking to further empower their labourers through reskilling to help the workforce readjust to the new normal the pandemic has forced the industry into. A Price Waterhouse and Cooper report from April 2020 suggests that there has been a global decline in transport activity and this in itself has forced many workers in the supply chain to be jobless for months on end due to lockdowns. However, in 2021 it is evident that the demand for at-home deliveries has increased.

Conclusion

The Covid 19 pandemic has put immense strain on the world’s resources. Solar energy production has not been spared. We are already in a race against time to reverse global warming. We must seek ways to shorten supply chains by sourcing locally available materials to create renewable energy sources that are  sustainable and more robust against something as unpredictable as a global pandemic. Who knows when the next one could hit.

Has the Pandemic Infected Marketing?

Has the Pandemic Infected Marketing Image

July 2020 – Is there a place for high-budget TV ads – the kind where crowds of hundreds clink glasses as they dance together in a small space? Or is the future of marketing looking a lot more low key?

Connection, connection, connection.

If there is anything that emerged out of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s the insight that humans crave connection above all else. It’s what makes them willing to risk their health, and that of others, in their pursuit of activities and pastimes that make them feel that they are part of a greater whole. That’s why the brands that have either reflected or sought to create connection are the ones that have done well during a period that’s been exceptionally trying for brands.

Inevitably, these trials have been passed on to their marketers. According to a Marketweek survey of CMOs, 65% of marketers are expecting to see their annual marketing budgets cut, and 86% predict that their marketing goals will be that much harder to achieve.

Digital marketers, on the other hand, must be enjoying a secret smile, if the survey respondents’ belief that SEO has become more important than ever is anything to go by. Indeed, since most consumers have little option but to bond with their laptops, social media is enjoying a boom, and many brands are taking advantage of this new captive market. There’s a caveat, however: consumers don’t want to be reminded of how things were. According to Forbes.com, they’re more likely to respond to an ad that reflects our current reality, no matter how second-rate that reality is. It comes down to the principle of authenticity: we can’t pretend that life is glamourous when most of us are sitting in our tracksuits – any brand that ignores this is tone-deaf.

On the other hand, brands that point out that this is something we’re all affected by may well win. Forbes.com singles out Nike’s Covid-19 ‘Play inside, play for the world’ campaign as one which does this especially well. From a local perspective, who can forget the SA Tourism’s appeal to put the brakes on travel now, so that we can all travel later? If such a message is backed by an action to ease the collective suffering (like the offer of a payment holiday or donation to a cause), so much the better – but, again, only if it is authentic and transparent.

Since marketing budgets are a lot more slender than they were at the beginning of the year, marketers have to do a lot more with a lot less. That’s nothing new – in essence, they’ve been trying to make their spend go further and further since the recession of 2008 – but this time around, the need to create a connection is so much greater. The accent is on quality content that can add value to consumers’ lives: overseas, brands have found a way to interact with their consumers through interactive classes, videos and webinars on platforms like Zoom or IGLive, for example.

The ultimate takeout? The way we buy and spend has changed, probably forever. Of course we’ll reach a stage where consumers have greater freedom, but by then, online habits may have become entrenched. As always, marketers who have missed out on an opportunity to entrench their brands due to short-sighted cost-cutting will feel the brunt when spending returns to normal; those that have adjusted their strategies – by creating relatable, relevant content and serving it on a platform that speaks to consumers’ needs for convenience and efficiency – may hang on to their niche. It’s nothing new – we simply have better data at our disposal to help us choose where to feature that content, and how to execute it.

Image Credit:

https://images.unidays.world/i/self-serve/customer/CDkPfEJh6kmQAM2mzFI06DrW90xwN8FApKikEZYxtuY=/header/e92576d0-1c75-409f-b0eb-90c15bb5ce7e