This is my second article, following the earlier titled, Covid Correction, back on the 4th of March. Observations and reflections on the 3 months since then.
I arrived back into Asia in early March from Europe which unknown to it then, was just about to go into the start of its major battle with Covid. I didn’t realize at the time that this would be my last flight for the foreseeable future, the most I haven’t travelled in my working career. So accustomed to jumping on a plane to go see clients and my team in various cities in the world, the last 3 months have been a long series of zoom calls and webinars. Thankfully as a consulting and data business we have been able to work remotely from home across many cities without much difficulty. Digitally transformed to cope with the new normal and the new way of business and being agile enough to adapt fast.
The skies have emptied across the world as air travel literally ground to a halt these last few months, airports and hotels closing their doors and the flow of global travel coming to a halt. Streets, shops and restaurants busy with people now resembling ghost towns. Entertainment venues and sports stadiums packed with spectators lying silent. Words that will remain forever imprinted in people’s minds and vocabularies from this period will be “unprecedented” “covid,” “lockdown,” “facemask,” “zoom,” to name a few. This was definitely a pandemic which shadowed SARS back in 2003 and has become a challenge of a generation.
Road to Recovery
In my March article, I called this period the Covid Correction and wrote that things will get better within the next 2-3 months. Most countries in Asia have seen much improvement in this short period of time. Many cities are now coming out of lockdown, air travel is resuming in certain countries, domestic travel has increased. Markets we consult on like South Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, are all pretty much back to work and normal. Australia and New Zealand are almost free of new infections, Singapore is just coming out of its lockdown circuit breaker period and the economy has started to regain traction.
China being the first to get hit by the virus was the first to come out of it, with Shanghai and other cities coming back to work in early April. Our analysts observed a new phenomenon which we coined “revenge spending” where consumers in China and S.Korea hit the malls and shops buying things they were deprived of during their lockdown periods. Retail therapy at its best, which buoyed the sales of some of the brands, especially in the luxury and premium sector that we work with.
Online sales and demand also continued throughout the last three months in Asia, where cloud events, ecommerce and online retail sales continued across various categories.
Changing Consumer Behaviour
Consumer behaviour will change for ever, travel will come back, this time expect a facemask along with your eyeshades on your flight. Longer queues in customs as we have to take a few medical tests. Another regiment to add, like we had to start taking our shoes off. Hand sanitizer will be carried by everyone and physical distance will be maintained till the vaccine appears or the virus disappears. Hopefully the worst is behind us as we now head into the summer months and possibly like SARs this virus too dies out.
Green shoots are appearing everywhere even as people and businesses have all been affected by Covid in some manner. For those that survive, they will come out stronger, with strong leaders, better bonded teams and more resilient in the face of challenging times.
For us as a company, our purpose was to come together to address the many questions and information needs from clients that appeared and continue to confront businesses trying to build back revenues in Asia and win back customers in the new normal.
Our signature solution the TrendLens™ 2020 continues to help many brands stay ahead of the curve through data and insights from our team of analysts across the region, granular data, ground up, observing the changing dynamics of consumerism and markets.
What we took for granted will be appreciated much more as the world recovers from its Covid hangover. The stock market for one has definitely had its correction and is now back to almost pre covid levels. Probably the only V shaped recovery we can expect. For the rest of the economies, each will have its own alphabet, L, U, long L, V, W…Some markets are ahead, some are still catching up.
In closing, Lets project out and visualize December 2020, the year is ending, the virus has been eliminated, markets are up again, confidence has been restored, people are traveling freely again. Borders have reopened and business is back.
This is the hope we have and one which we as leaders have to portray and work towards, as its in good times we build confidence but its in tough times we build resilience and character.
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