The disruption of the global economy caused by the coronavirus pandemic has affected everything – from supply chains to workplace layouts to consumer buying habits. It’s a challenging time, but it has triggered an unprecedented wave of innovation as businesses reimagine and reinvent themselves in response to this new reality.
Of course, pivoting is nothing new in business, particularly among tech start-ups. Twitter and Instagram are just two examples of companies that were agile enough to reconfigure themselves around a previously marginal aspect of their business model.
It’s also worth noting that economic downturns have often birthed exciting new businesses. Disney, Hyatt, and Microsoft are three among many. The chaos will inevitably paralyse some, but others will be inspired to grasp the opportunities.
Here are five businesses that have distinctly rejigged their offering in response to the pandemic. Some of these changes may permanently affect how they operate in future. Or maybe not. But as necessity continues to be the mother of invention, we think they’re giving it a good shot.
It’s possible that social distancing could be with us for some time to come, and physical barriers will continue to be needed to maintain social distancing. If so, this Spanish metal chain manufacturer is well placed to benefit thanks to its new range of attractive and functional aluminium ‘curtains’ which can act as physical distancing partitions without blocking the visual field. Sufficiently versatile for most interior layouts, the chains can also be customised in any colours.
Mind The Product (MTP)
Lockdown must have looked like an extinction-level occurrence for conference-hosting businesses. Online meetings certainly have their uses but aren’t especially suited to extended conference events with detailed programmes stretching over several days. That was the situation facing Mind The Product, the London-based global training business. However, by breaking the sessions up into sets of free online lectures, the company was able to drive leads to their online training business, which remains viable and profitable.
The pandemic has left many travel firms reeling from the impact of government restrictions and customer fears. However, Seattle start-up, Neu has refused to take these blows lying down. Originally in the business of linking holiday rental hosts with cleaning companies, they have pursued several new opportunities, such as getting in touch with estate agents that needed housecleaning services for showings. They also sourced gloves, masks and other products required to meet the new cleaning requirements of companies such as Airbnb.
Photo booth rental had been a lucrative business for this Seattle-based start-up – and one of America’s fastest-growing companies. COVID 19 and the ensuing lockdown sadly put a halt to their growth as events were cancelled. However, the company moved fast, launching ‘Keep Your City Smiling’ which now sells gift boxes with selections curated from small local businesses, including a healthcare-focused version for key workers. As well as using the company’s existing strengths in delivery and logistics, the new service has tapped into popular sentiment about shopping local.
Fine Hygienic Holdings
Coincidentally, Fine, which was previously known for its hygienic paper products, had pivoted into a new wellness positioning just prior to the pandemic. This move proved fortuitous when they released the first protective reusable N-95 face mask that is proven to kill the coronavirus. Particularly impressive in this case was the speed of their response – from design to distribution in just eight days.
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Conclusion: pivoting isn’t always the answer
A good pivot is for life, not just for pandemics. To succeed, it must fit the business strategy and continue to prove profitable, whether the societal shifts that initiated it – such as home working and physical distancing – prove to be temporary or ongoing.