It’s September! Yes, it’s hard to keep track of the months but we’re getting closer to the end of a very interesting year. I’ve stopped talking “post-COVID” and moved to “New Normal”. The longer this period of disruption lasts, the more likely that the changes will be permanent. Repeated behaviour is habit forming. E-commerce, streaming entertainment, telemedicine, remote working, e-learning are sectors where the pace of change is much faster than before and where the adoption is unlikely to be reversed. So as individuals and businesses we need to think about how we are going to adapt. If things are going well, yay for you, and do more of the same! But if you are in a space where the money is being displaced to another category, you need to think about what next. Here’s a nice visual report from McKinsey on the sectors most impacted by the change in consumer behaviour.
It is natural for us to look at adjacencies. But if your industry as a whole is impacted – either up or down – it might be wise to think drastic and move to a whole different industry. With this lens you can understand why Amul is in Atta or Patanjali is into cookies. As a brand if you have capital, you can buy your way into a new sector. As an individual, if you have capital you can retrain yourself. In both cases what is important is that you understand your key competencies and how you can stretch your trust capital.
I was always surprised at how casually billionaires from Europe and US traipsed about in the icy weather of Davos during the World Economic Forum, while I shivered in my flimsy boots and Eastern Stores coat. Someone then mentioned a truth that I’ve never forgotten “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”. This applies not just to winter, monsoon or a hot summer, but also to COVID times. How you fare in this period of uncertainty depends a great deal on how fortunate you are in protective gear – at the physical level and the professional level.
But it also depends on your propensity to adapt, to seek new tools, and change.
When we set up a second home base in Amsterdam in October last year, it seemed like we never went out without a raincoat. Because the weather app we were using wasn’t precise enough to track the cloud right above our head, and Amsterdam needs that kind of precision with really isolated showers. I felt that there must be a better way given all the great tech. And after some diligent trials I found it – Accuweather which gives rain prediction at 60 minute intervals with a cute infographic. Armed with this we can now confidently go out with no waterproofing.
You need to think about whether you are going to equip yourself with an umbrella and go out in the rain, or find the dry spells so you won’t get wet.
Both approaches will work. In the case of Paul Writer, I’ve adapted our existing work to the digital-only world and I also have new offerings and opportunities that are a response to the emerging market realities.
And it works across categories – after paying a salary for months of no exercise, my personal trainer in Bangalore and I are taking the plunge with a Zoom yoga session. In the absence of a gym, yoga makes more sense than the cardio and strength workouts that I was earlier doing. We’re both adapting to the new normal. (And if you want to sign him up, he’s really good, mail me.)
The GDP numbers of no country are inspiring. And it’s easy to get carried away by the negativity. But the advice for individuals is the same as for brands – in a contracting market the only way to grow is to grab marketshare. Do more.
The average does not have to represent you – you could be the outlier. I was really happy to see that my client, Happiest Minds, has got approval for their IPO. Congratulations to Mr Soota! I was there at the launch of this brand and played a small role in this great journey, so it is a bright spot amongst all the dark clouds. I admire their positive outlook in going forward with their plans.
And some good news from my side – Paul Writer got featured in Feedspot’s list of top 100 B2B blogs. Plus we now are registered as a company in Amsterdam to make things logistically simpler for me and global clients.