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What you can learn from how these 5 businesses have successfully adapted to the COVID-19 crisis

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Who’d have thought it? 5 months ago we were blissfully putting up festive decorations and welcoming in the New Year, unaware of the impending pandemic. Now, as we start to ease our way out of lockdown we find ourselves transitioning to the next phase, a state with new economic challenges.

Businesses have and will continue to face challenges over the coming months, as remote working continues, delivery problems ensue and government restrictions prevent production returning to pre-COVID-19 levels. 

The rapid spread of the virus has forced companies to temporarily ditch previous marketing strategies. Instead, businesses have had to demonstrate their innovation and adaptability.  There are plenty of lessons to be learned from how brands have adjusted themselves to keep up-to-date with the current climate.

Formlabs

The Massachusetts based 3D printing company already had a background in printing medical supplies before the crisis hit. When hospitals began facing problems accessing ventilators, masks and oxygen valves, they reached out to Formlabs. 

In itself, printing medical supplies was a brilliant way to contribute to the fight against COVID-19, but Formlabs went beyond this. Creating a twitter post which linked to a form, Formlabs got in touch with fellow manufacturers to create a network of over 2,300 volunteers and workers.

From this, Formlabs delegated and each manufacturer took on a different medical item, depending on where their expertise lay. It would have been easy for Formlabs to stay quiet and minimize the potential for competitors to receive a manufacturing contract. Instead, they banded together, in return receiving invaluable global press. 
Other 3D printing companies have also been doing their bit to help stop the spread. Materialise have printed a hands free door handle to prevent contamination, whilst Protolabs have been hastily printing COVID-19 test kits.

British Airways

Besides the hospitality industry, some of the hardest hit areas have been aviation and tourism. After grounding its fleet and furloughing over 30,000 workers, British Airways set up a volunteer force, utilizing the skills of their employees. Used to dealing face-to-face with customers, BA sought to use the patience and friendliness of their employees.

Those with first aid or medical training went to help the St. John’s ambulance service, whilst other volunteers headed to the newly built NHS nightingale hospitals, or reached out to the elderly via Age UK.

Across Europe, a major problem during the pandemic has been the lack of PPE. To help with this, BA chartered 21 BA flights a week between London and China, bringing in about 700 tonnes of PPE into the UK. 

This has been a really effective marketing move. As the national airline, Britishness is an intrinsic part of BA’s identity. Assisting the nation it represents during a time of crisis helps bolster its image. It reinforces the idea that BA doesn’t just use British values as part of its branding strategy, but seeks to actively help the country.

This has also helped soften the fallout from the controversial redundancies BA has been facing. Having now made 25% of their staff redundant, 120,000 people have signed a petition asking the UK government to step in and help. Now, let’s not overstate this - helping with the crisis will not crush negative press, but it will help to balance out its effects.

Spiffy

Spiffy, the US mobile car washing app has thought of an ingenious way to stay afloat. The app allows users to easily book a time slot when an employee can come round and wash their car, using water and tools from the Spiffy van.

With a lockdown prohibiting people from using their cars, the demand for car washing has drastically reduced. To counter this, Spiffy is now accepting bookings to sanitize and disinfect people's businesses. This is a great example of thinking outside of the box. Spiffy has kept a degree of business going, whilst being helpful and safe.


Tesco 

For essential stores, the challenge has been making sure products are readily available whilst keeping customers safe. Supermarkets have had to adapt to the problems of panic buying and overcrowding, as inspired by apocalypse movies, consumers flock to snap up the last of the spaghetti.

To counter this, Tesco have tried to reduce contamination by closing deli counters, enforcing the 2m rule and placing a 3 item limit on each product. To keep customers informed, the store hastily shot a campaign titled ‘Keeping You Safe’. 


 

Thinking on their feet, supermarkets have given us a lesson in adaptability. Identifying the challenges of the current situation and trying to solve them, grocery stores have prevented the anarchy they could have descended into.

Tesco have also been supporting the strained National Health Service, offering early morning opening hours for both key workers and the vulnerable, generating good press by showing their ‘caring’ side.

The reality is that it costs a business very little to show awareness of those around them. Especially if your competitors are doing it too, you need to follow suit or risk being seen as out of touch.

Deliveroo

Let’s all give a big shout out to Deliveroo. Besides toilet paper and soap, we think chinese take out comes pretty high on the list of essentials. We all need a mood lifting chow mein every once in a while and luckily Deliveroo’s got our back.

Similarly to Tesco, Deliveroo has given us a lesson in adaptability. Rather than close their services, the food delivery company has changed its policies across the 200 cities it operates in in Europe. By providing restaurants with additional packaging and leaving deliveries on customer’s doorsteps, the company has provided reassurance to consumers and eradicated fears that by continuing to use their service, the customer puts themself at risk.

Recently we’ve all had to adapt and change to new challenges. How luxurious it will seem when we can visit friends or pop the 2m bubble we have placed ourselves in. Going forwards, we can apply the lessons we’ve learned from these businesses to our own workplaces. Being open to change and acutely aware of your brand image are important lessons in how to survive!

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