Creating Tomorrow: the coronavirus impact – and what you can learn


What you can learn from innovative brands’ reactions to Covid-19

Newspapers around the world are doing their bit to ensure we’re all appropriately informed about this rapidly spreading virus – and, possibly, inappropriately alarmed.

As business leaders, however, what’s only just hitting the news agenda is the impact Covid-19 is having on brands’ and retailers’ bottom lines.

WGSN staff in China are, like their colleagues in Hong Kong and elsewhere, working from home at the moment, but reporting back on the reactions from companies, both domestic and international, who are finding creative ways to better support residents in the eye of the storm.

There is plenty for us all to learn.

I was fascinated to discover from WGSNer Athena Chen that JD.com has sent out unmanned self-driving robots in Wuhan, delivering packages to those in confinement at home. In rural regions, meanwhile, drones are coming into their element, where delivery of much needed food and medicine would otherwise be almost impossible. Guangzhou-based drone company XAG has deployed a fleet of drones that spray disinfectant on affected public spaces such as bus and train stations.

Smart lockers are coming into play, especially where apartment blocks have halted access to food delivery drivers. China’s largest food delivery app Meituan, for example, is leading the charge with secure pickup stations across 184 cities.

House viewings, product launches and even music festivals and university lectures are all moving online, using VR technologies and livestreaming. There are signs that Western brands are playing their part, too. Tesla is one, notifying owners throughout China via their in-car dashboards that supercharging is free until the epidemic is under control.

Meanwhile, Ikea has taken to WeChat to provide guides on how individuals can use their periods of confinement to reconnect with their home and family. Tips shared by those who logged on have been entered into prize draws. Nike, similarly, is promoting its Nike Training Club app on WeChat, enabling users to download at-home workouts.

The above is just a smattering of the ways smart businesses are responding; there are many more examples in the report below, as well as further analysis and lessons companies across the globe can learn.

Recommended read: China – The Coronavirus Impact

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