We are now beginning, tentatively, to talk about the bounce back. When COVID-19 has passed or has become manageable, countries, economies and companies will bounce back.
Not all, sadly. Some sectors will suffer for years to come; some will never recover.
Ironically, the sectors that survive and thrive and those that don’t will be the ones that would have suffered the same fates anyway, decades from now. This pandemic has pressed the ‘fast forward’ button on the world.
Of course, digital first companies will be in poll position to survive but there is another factor that is becoming clearer by the day.
Those companies who can be trusted, who are genuine and relevant and those who helped during the pandemic will have a real advantage.
Trust comes in several forms. Not only does it mean ‘I will help you,’ but it means ‘I will protect you.’
The bounce-back will favour those companies that, for example, protect their customers in cyberspace, as fraudsters become more prevalent, not less.
It will also favour those that promote that ‘helping hand.’ Some of the examples that we were already seeing as 4G and 5G differentiators will become popular. The ability to manage data in ways that help your friends and family will be favoured. Being able to easily gift data, roll data usage over, or under, will all make much more sense as we begin to bounce back.
There is an emerging ‘base rate’ that we all wanted but thought it was too difficult. There is a morality index, and ethical companies are no longer ones that employ an Ethics Director and never listen to him. There is even a new watchdog emerging, a website where users can rate brands and companies by how they behave and whether they are believable and sustainable. Did they Help? It is a site that is becoming extremely popular with Millennials and GenZ. Interestingly, the top two companies on the site are Telus and AT&T.
Leading brands were already on the case when the pandemic struck. Proctor and Gamble have long since seen the writing on the wall and changed their stance from glamorising products to self-help, a helping hand and a better way of life.
Telcos are in a great position when the bounce back begins in earnest and already their brand values have gone up, as they have helped customers, shored up networks and done their bit in helping home schooling and home working.
Digital service providers are, likewise, in a great position. The only sore point for them will be how important the perception is that they have profited from the pandemic. Already, there is a new initiative to look at whether Google, for example, is too big for the public good. It is not surprising – but will not sit well with younger people – that the richest got $308 billion richer in the crisis.
When the bounce back happens, we will probably find ourselves in economies the size they were in the early 1980s, with technology from the 2020s and 20 years nearer the climate goals we (sort of) set ourselves before it all began and companies that realise that being ethical and giving is a differentiator.
And that may not be an altogether bad thing.