How global leaders are preparing for business recovery

Marco Giorgini / June 2020

While the impact from the coronavirus pandemic continues to be felt around the world, there is a sense that the long process of recovery may soon be underway. To help businesses get a better understanding of the current global economic situation and challenges ahead, we asked four business leaders to share their experiences of what consumers want next, and their strategies for business recovery.

Customers want greater affordability

How are global leaders preparing for what consumers want next?

One of the most immediate trends emerging from the crisis has been the need for greater affordability and value for money by consumers. Consumer spending will be cautious for the foreseeable future, particularly as employment is unlikely to return fully in 2021. For companies, this means they will need to offer promotions, affordable innovation, and products which are ‘good enough’ — that is of a moderate quality, and competitively priced.

With restrictions on international travel likely to remain in place until 2021-2022, many consumers will choose to travel within their own countries instead — and this could mean they’re able to spend relatively more on certain products or services within their local economy. Again though, the key to converting audiences will be affordability.

Watch the full interview with Daniel Thorniley, where we delve into the wider effects of the crisis on the global economy; the current and future state of international trade; and how the outbreak has accelerated the shift to the global digitalisation of customers.

Businesses need continuity plans

How are global leaders preparing for what consumers want next?

The pandemic has shown that businesses need to develop continuity plans to deal with anticipated events. Risk assessment, risk mitigation, implementation, and testing should all be part of that. The final element of such a plan would need to be an analysis and description of ‘fitness’ for business. This identifies which specific parts of the company must remain running in order for the plan to work. Can your IT systems cope? Are your insurance policies sufficiently far-reaching? How about your loans or other financial obligations? Are you resilient enough to keep meeting them?

Companies often go into survival mode during times of crisis, but if you want to steer the whole ship through the storm you’ll need to consider less urgent things like supply change, customer communications, and employee engagement just as much. A business continuity plan can help brands find solutions that work in both the short and long term.

Watch the full interview with Marga Hoek to learn more about building, coordinating and optimising your plans, and how you can navigate these disruptive times to drive your business to success. Watch the full interview here.

Treat changing times as pivotal

How are global leaders preparing for what consumers want next?

I’ve helped many companies through difficult times, and believe that it can be a pivotal moment where leaders challenge their businesses to take stock and move to a new proposition, before somebody else does. This means asking yourself some difficult questions: is your product suite appropriate to the new world you find yourself in? Has your audience changed? If so, what are their expectations?

When I was CEO of a superyacht business after the last recession, my clients indicated their new priority was quality, not price. In response, we changed the production process, reduced faults, and redesigned touchpoints of our boats. We also refocused marketing messages around ‘quality’, and fine-tuned how the business dealt with clients. In difficult times, it’s vital for businesses to maintain a clear vision of success — and this can only be achieved by asking the right questions and reviewing every part of the business.

Watch the full interview with Kevin Gaskell, where we look further into what the future holds more generally for most international businesses; how you can future-proof your business plans; and more.

Understand your current customers

How are global leaders preparing for what consumers want next?

Generating demand starts with understanding your current customers: knowing what they like about your brand and what they think you’re doing right. Then you have to proactively seek out what might be changing. What are people buying or wanting to see more of? What are they doing that’s different — either by desire or necessity? Businesses can then gather insights to learn how their brands are perceived by both category and market. Then you can start figuring out how to adapt and begin fulfilling those needs.

Businesses also have to look for ‘stretch opportunities’, or additional areas where your brand could have credibility and reach. Carry out research and co-create with current and potential customers to test new ideas. Be ambitious about what’s possible with international geographic expansion. An always ‘on’ mentality means having the ability to experiment in new markets, with new messages and mixes, and to see what works. One of the key characteristics of the world’s most successful companies is that they try a lot of things to see what works. That’s a good philosophy.

Watch the full interview with Rita Clifton to learn more about global digital marketing and ecommerce trends, and how to navigate marketing challenges during uncertain times.

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Marco Giorgini International Growth Lead, Google EMEA

Marco Giorgini

International Growth Lead Google EMEA