It does not matter how many “How to succeed in…business…or life” books you’ve read, no one knows what is going to happen to the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors we all rely on for our careers and livelihoods in the weeks and months that lie ahead of us. But what we can do is try and remain positive and, according to brand consultant Illy Jaffar, make sure any new habits, changes in behaviour and ways of working all prepare us for how to do business when we come out the other side.
The individuals and businesses that can also look at this period of uncertainty and lockdowns as an opportunity to think and act differently are the ones that will come out of this crisis in a stronger place says Illy Jaffar of Kinetic Creative Communications.
As I sit here looking over the rugged beauty of the Calder Valley (I’m in lockdown in God’s Own Country and the small town from whence I hailed), I ponder on how quickly we have found ourselves in unchartered territory as a country, as a world, indeed as a genus.
Who would have thought just three short months ago our very way of life would be effected in a way never seen before?
I felt like putting finger to keyboard, actually this has been transcribed by my nephew as I originally wrote it on vellum, with a quill and ink, my whippet by my side and flat cap adorning my head (I’m not one to reinforce Yorkshire stereotypes…).
These words are intended to provoke thought as opposed to espousing my opinions on the current situation political or otherwise. It does however discuss us, our families, friends, customers, and consumers, us mere mortals – people.
The role of digital and social in these challenging times has been amazing – the connection it provides but also the creativity being shared is heart warming. Be it funny memes, videos about panic buying, to online exercise classes for kids with profits donated to the NHS.
I am wondering where we will be when this is all over – there is no doubt the effects will be long lasting – way beyond the functional need to lockdown for three months. I think we would all agree people are at the centre of what we all do as an industry and we hopefully bring joy to them each day.
It’s all about our people
Personally my whole career has centred around people and their human necessity to interact emotionally and on the whole collectively, whether through music or brand experiences, bars, restaurants or clubs – the list is long.
So what happens when we are forced to change our behaviour, where the everyday, the subconscious is brought to the fore and becomes conscious? I’m not a behavioural specialist, but studied it and my experience is with real people and trying to understand them.
The old myth of breaking a habit in 21 days has been widely dismissed as a myth by psychologists. However, a new habit can be formed in 21 days.
What has all this got to do with anything? I refer of course not only to lockdown, but more importantly social distancing. How will the latter if enforced for three months or longer effect behaviour when this is all over? What does the new normal look like?
There are many parents tearing their hair out (in the loveliest of ways) home schooling excitable and energetic kids whilst not been able to see other members of their families – they have that interaction.
There are an equal amount of single households where that direct human interaction is not so easily accessible.
Preparing for a new norm
I would like to think – sorry – I hope and pray that we will come out of this and run into the streets craving the pub and human contact and interaction. Craving new connections with new people. I do equally wonder whether it will be slower process for many, that many may struggle to revert to the old ways if indeed this is even encouraged or allowed.
We will emerge from this changed. That much is obvious, how much I don’t think anyone knows. And remember this is global.
I don’t profess to have the answers, none of us do, but know that hand wringing and procrastination are not in play or at least shouldn’t be. We need to be smart and creative.
People are trying to use their time wisely. Sales are up on books, exercise kit, games and also coffee.
This is a chance to really engage with your customers and consumers and add value to their enforced downtime – while they have time they are looking to fill.
In a survey out this week by Opinium consumers want to hear more from food and drink, pharma and supermarket brands and less from fashion, automotive and gym brands. Fifty nine per cent of those who took part miss having conversations that don’t involve the pandemic.
Ideas to think about
So here are a few ideas, I haven’t addressed any logistical issues as that will be company specific (and you need to a have to do something!) and this stage shouldn’t be front of mind.
Online Tutored Tastings
There is still a hunger for knowledge around wine, let’s use this to educate, inform, entertain. Six wines (three red, three white) ordered by the consumer and you have a guided tasting (one red and one white) each Friday online.
Sound scary? Platforms like Zoom enable multi site conferencing (there’s a basic free package) so a small group of friends or work colleagues might decide to do this together when they would ordinarily be meeting face to face in the pub for instance.
Meet the Winemaker
Get your consumers and customers to submit questions in advance and again create a live stream or Zoom meeting. Maybe even a virtual tour of the vineyards and winery.
Can you approach local delivery providers and either create a dedicated online store or add to the likes of Deliveroo offer. There are also more localised delivery providers popping up.
Food cupboard recipes and wine match ups. Why not offer a simple lunch or supper recipe and wine recommendation. If any companies are feeling brave they could take a category approach and recommend a varietal to help consumers along to match with the recipe.
At the end of the day I believe physical interaction, love, emotional connection are hardwired into us and those pillars will prevail as a primal need.
So probably worth a ponder what we can do for our sector in the short term and how we all bounce back into a brave new world.
- If you would like to share your ideas with Illy or help him help you take your initiative to the next stage then he would love to hear from you. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.