How our lives will change long after COVID is gone!
As the lockdown unlocked, we witness a likely glide path that takes us to an eventual calibrated exit out of this lockdown. Depending upon how some of the states fare in restraining the contagion, there could be a good case for some of the businesses getting off to a slow & phased out start.
As the staggered route unfolds, there are likely to be several “New Normals” that we shall witness in near future. How the business & life situations around us evolve is anyone’s guess.
However there are a few clear givens:
- If I can afford a flight ticket, I should be witnessing half empty aircrafts. Economy seating might start feeling like Business with ample elbow room. Airlines might encourage to carry your own food so that their crew can maintain social distancing. A home-made home-made Aloo Paratha would be a better bet over a cold Sandwich dished by the airline.
- It’s highly unlikely that a Levi’s will permit you to try their Jeans & shirts before buying. A lot of apparel buying will happen basis what visually looks like a good fit to me. Trial rooms would disappear and Online firms shall have a great business model with superior A/VR technology.
- Sit down restaurants are likely to downsize space wise. Many may create partitioning & cubicles around each table. The waiters with their PPEs might look like aliens from a different planet. Digital menu cards shall replace paper ones. A lot of eateries might want to calibrate their spaces to encourage drive through take-aways. The classical Delhi model of Car-o bars might just become more legitimate & respectable! For the die-hard diners, the waiting lines shall become shorter.
- Checking into hotels can be a multi-layered walk through. More than the current requirement of opening the boot of a car, there would be sterilization tunnels both for Bentleys & humans, sanitization points at every conceivable metre & temp check points in coffee shops. You shall be the valet.The hotels might ask for a health report card along with KYC. Chances are that a hotel reception will start appearing more like a hospital information desk. Getting into your room would be nothing short of getting admitted into a hospital.
- The concept of Out of Home entertainment will see a cataclysmic shift. Malls, multiplexes, theatres, casual shopping in Delhi’s famous street markets will be a thing of the past. This category will take a long time to come back on its feet. In the last few weeks, we are already noticing a surge in consuming content across a plethora of OTT platforms. With reduced out of home travel, there will be a big shift in the advertising monies from OOH in favour of TV, print & digital.
- Talking about advertising, values such as care, empathy & inclusiveness shall shine through the core communication. Brands shall have to think through activation formats that have a good blend of contextual fun & carefully crafted humour and sensitive approach to their messaging. For one, I believe that in these lockdown times, liquor brands that have quickly switched over their production lines to manufacture hand sanitizers have not only redeemed themselves but also conveyed their intent as a responsible & caring brand united in their effort to keep the COVID at bay. Consumers shall start noticing & adopting brands that are seen to be doing a larger good for the community.
- Universities attracting International students shall see a significant chunk of their revenues falling. Restrictions in travel, study permits, phobia in local tenancy shall significantly push the cost of education for students. The effort of earning a local stipend shall far outweigh the effort of earning good grades in the University. With the online mode of education delivery already gaining traction, a lot of international universities might seriously look at the option of opening campuses in other countries.
- Community gyms, saunas, steam baths & swimming pools are likely to go extinct. Home curated gyms shall be in vogue. The dressing mirror shall be the place for one to check their bulging biceps.
- The traditional Indian modes of connecting with oneself such as Yoga, meditation, spiritual healing would be the panacea for good physical & mental health. I do believe that with reduced physical activity, ailments such as obesity, diabetes, cholesterol & blood pressure will be on the rise. Be ready to shell out more on health insurance premiums.
- Offices shall transform dramatically – space, layout, workstations & cafeteria. Remote working groups, cross collaborating in full view of their spouses in living rooms shall soften the corporate culture. Those working in high rise commercial buildings shall have to budget additional time to catch the elevators. We are already hearing about serial layoffs across organizations. With a stressed job market, the labour pool shall remain captive. Re-hiring in better times shall be relatively easy.
- In a lighter vein as businesses crank their engines, a lot of us will find it difficult to shrug off the addiction of home confinement & lockdown as we prepare to get back to work!
What started off as a health scare is today a full blown pandemic that has brought the planet down on its knees. Over half the global population is in some sort of confinement. No one in their senses would have ever visualised this in their living memory.
What we are witnessing today appears like a nightmare or something straight out of a mega Hollywood production. This is not fiction, it’s real. This reality is here to stay & we shall have to move swiftly to have a work around in place.Welcome to the new normal where only the healthiest & the most sagacious who can re-imagine the new world shall survive.
About the Storyteller: Umesh Rao runs his own venture that helps connect students with Universities in Germany. He’s a guest faculty at the IIMs & other prestigious Management institutions. With over 25 years in the corporate domain across an eclectic mix of leadership roles in the FMCG, retail, in home entertainment, rural e-serve & BFSI categories, he also teaches full credit courses in Marketing & also mentors start-ups.