Brands are rethinking how they plan to do business as cities, countries, and states come out of stay-at-home orders. There’s no doubt that what we knew before this global pandemic is not what we’re going back to, at least for some time to come.
So, that does mean brands need to rethink what they’re doing and how they’re going to do it.
Down to brass tacks, there are three areas of concern, and they are all inter-related:
1. How are we going to make money?
2. How are we going to connect (or re-connect) with customers?
3. How are we going to do all of the things that create those first two results in as safe a way as possible?
Brands, especially retail stores that need customers coming back, are looking for ways to mitigate the ongoing impact of COVID-19 while also putting their business back on a paying basis. It may not be business as usual, but they need to communicate their path to getting back to fully operational. Consumer confidence, both in the product and in their own safety as customers, need to be among the top priority messaging.
In some industries, there are additional challenges. Certain states have already lessened restrictions on inside dining. Florida recently announced that restaurants will be allowed to seat up to 25 percent capacity inside. But how can a restaurant survive at 25 percent in an industry that depends on flipping tops to keep the bills paid?
That’s a logistical question on top of the communications challenge of successfully getting people to come out and eat again. Millions of jobs and thousands of businesses are on the line. That’s a message that has been coming from the restaurant sector for some weeks now. Communicators are calling the situation “dire” and they are pressing for decision-makers at every level of government to consider their situation when setting public policy.
The state of the situation has not been a tough sell, but getting movement on solutions has been harder to make happen. So far, the reaction has been a mix of wanting to follow CDC guidelines, and also people wanting to get back to work.
And therein lies the conundrum. There hasn’t been much in the way of solutions to date that meet both of those criteria. So, industry leaders have gone directly to the people with websites outlining the protocols that should be followed before restrictions can be loosened. Giving both voters and lawmakers clear benchmarks to agree on at least allows restaurants and retailers to have some clear goals that everyone can begin to discuss. They are hoping to trigger what’s being called an “economic revival” in the restaurant industry – and they’re hoping to do it soon.
Once again, though, that message of expediency is still bumping up hard against the need for corporate responsibility. “Carefully” and “safely” have become bywords right along with “dire” and “soon.” That’s where they are right now, but they’re making smart moves, finding both language and topics all parties involved can agree on before all involved, both stakeholders and regulators, make plans for the future.