We Are All In This Together

Doesn’t That Mean Brands And Their Customers Too?

 

The current COVID-19 situation has created disruption in every corner of our lives – this is not news. As with many disruptions of this level – change is sure to come as we move to the “life past COVID-19”.

For some companies, the current state has driven an increase in demand for goods and services. While that means a positive boost to the bottom line, it has the potential to change the relationship with the customer, as many products and services struggle to keep up.

More often, though, companies are challenged during this time, with many having to close their doors and only a fraction of those able to come up with creative ways to try and salvage what they can of their businesses. As a result, many of them have tried to pivot quickly, either choosing not to connect with their consumer base feeling awkward at the timing or not having the time or funds to do so.

This has left many consumers to their own devices; we see evidence all over social media of friends, families, and neighbors coming together to solve for many of the gaps. Consumers are in problem solving mode and brands are being left out of those conversations.

Instead of consumers gathering together at the exclusion of brands, shouldn’t brands have a seat at the table? After all, as the old saying goes –necessity is the mother of invention, and at no time in recent history has it been truer or more urgent than today.

The most successful path forward will likely be one that is co-created between brands and consumers as we work together to define what life will be after COVID-19. Let us share a recent example:

As has been the case for many restaurants, a national quick-serve chain has had to pivot to delivery and pick up to continue to operate. While driving by this brand’s location the past several weeks, I always noticed a crowd of people standing in the parking lot. I decided to order from this restaurant to see what was going on.

After I ordered I received a confirmation that told me to go to the location I ordered from, enter the restaurant and make my way to the pick-up shelves where I would find my order. When I got there, I found a group of people in the parking lot standing around and a sign on the door stating that the restaurant was closed for dine in. When I went to open the door, it was locked. We all stood around wondering what we were to do. After 20 minutes we found out that workers from the restaurant would come out and announce names of orders as they were ready. Oh, and they were a half an hour behind. You can imagine the comments and conversation occurring in that parking lot.

This all could have been avoided. Clear communication and an understanding of how to meet needs could have created a solution that was clear, safe, and beneficial to all. Not to mention building good will during trying times that is sure to help pave the way to prosperity in the future.

There is an opportunity here, a silver lining to this incredibly black cloud that is covering our world and our nation. It is quite simple – as we come together to support each other, we are also coming together to create what comes next. For smart brands, that will mean working with your consumers more than you have ever had, to understand what is needed and partner to create the new normal, instead of consumers working around you or worse yet, working with your competitor.

At ENGINE we believe strongly that the path to success, to strong loyalty, and breakthrough innovation involves consumers. We also believe that this approach can’t take months and years to execute. ENGINE’s Digital Hives help brands get into the hearts and minds of your audiences to co-create solutions while our CARAVAN tool can measure the scale at which those solutions have traction. Together we can help ensure that the future is one that works for all.

Written by Lisa Marie Fortier, SVP, and Neil Wolch, SVP, at ENGINE Insights.