It’s fair to say that COVID-19 has turned things a little, let’s say, topsy-turvy. Previously robust brands have faced challenges staying afloat during the lockdown, while for others there’s unprecedented levels of demand. Video conferencing, meal box delivery and Amazon can all attest to that. As can other more surprising ones reacting to a rise in ‘extracurricular activities’ – hello sextech.
Many brands have had to make some savvy and big changes to their operations almost overnight, while others have kept on the same course but shown a more altruistic side – using their comparative stability to do good and help those suffering from the crisis.
In all types of verticals, from fitness to food delivery and ecommerce, there’s some big adjustments happening. Here’s our pick of how a number of different brands have wisely adapted to the situation.
Fitness: BEAT81, Urban Sports Club, Cyberobics
For many fitness studios, their business model disappeared almost overnight. Without a physical space for a gym or studio, many in this vertical were faced with a herculean task just to survive.
We’re delighted to see many brands react to this challenge, successfully digitising their services for a captive, but hungry-to-stay-fit, audience. Take BEAT81, which is now live streaming classes on their platforms and putting pre-recorded workouts online. Then there’s Urban Sports Club, who rather than being a physical space, offer a monthly membership which gives you access to a number of studios, from yoga to bouldering to traditional gyms.
They’ve teamed up with Fitogram, a software company based in Cologne that develops products for fitness businesses, to create video content for the individual venues. Urban Sports Club members can now enjoy a wide variety of different classes online. The current count? 5450 classes…with more to come!
Cyberobics, on the other hand, never had to deal with physical spaces – offering instead purely online courses. In reaction to COVID-19, they’ve made all their online live Cyberobics courses available for free and without subscription.
Meal box delivery: HelloFresh
There was a statistic last week that made many heads turn: HelloFresh is worth more on the stock exchange than ol’ dog Lufthansa!
Oh yes, the food delivery box service HelloFresh is most definitely a brand seeing an uptick. The whole meal box delivery sector is seeing an unprecedented surge in demand right now – and as the market leader over the likes of Blue Apron, HelloFresh is seeing the best of it. For the first quarter of 2020, the Berlin-based unicorn has reported a turnover of 685-710 million euros – much much higher than the expectations of analysts (and much higher than last year’s also impressive 420.1 million euros).
This time it’s less about adapting the business model – but adapting to the sheer levels of demand. For them, it means a big hiring push, with the company now hiring for 50% more employees at their factory in Banbury in the UK. Plus, a shift in focus to community management is crucial to deal with the legions of customers with enquiries. They’ve shown some altruistic chops too, in one example donating $40,000 to food banks across Canada.
Social planning: Zyng
Can you remember how hard organising your social life was before COVID-19? Zyng is a UK-based startup that syncs users’ digital calendars – eliminating the need for WhatsApp, Facebook groups and widespread ‘double-booked again!’ confusion. Only problem is, people aren’t making plans outside of their own homes anymore.
Can we give the award for quickest pivot ever? Having only launched their app in January 2020 – after a successful pre-seed funding round to the tune of 197,000 pounds – Zyng has changed their focus to focusing on virtual plans. For that they’ve quickly introduced one-tap video chat integration, so people could include their Zoom or House Party links (does anyone still actually use Skype!?) in their meeting plans.
Ecommerce: Asos and Rosie on Fire
Online shopping behemoth Asos has extended their returns period from 28 days to 45 days, offering those in quarantine a bit more time to get to the post office during these times of isolation. But it’s what they’ve done in the UK that’s a bigger story.
There’s the donations of thousands of much-needed items to the NHS, including hand creams, comfortable clothing and washable tote bags, so medical staff can take a change of clothes with them to work. Then there’s the Blue Light Card, which offers a 20% discount on any goods for medical workers themselves, and the additional storage and inventory management for medical supplies at one of their factories. Independent sellers on Asos Marketplace haven’t been ignored either, with the company removing the monthly rental fee for hosting products on the site. This is a Case A study of a steady and established business offering the right type of generosity in these times – something consumers will remember for a long time.
Now for a smaller player and one with a more urgent need to adapt: Based in London, Rosie On Fire is a luxury kimono and fashion boutique that has carved itself out the reputation for high-quality and playful garments. But just like a number of other fashion brands, when people have nowhere to go, they aren’t necessarily buying clothes in the same quantities.
Cue a change in strategy to more in-demand goods. In Malaysia, which is where their supply chain begins, they’ve created gloves and disinfectants (under the brand name Super Cleen). They’ve also repurposed their product offering to suit a COVID-19 audience, selling products on a new website called Supply Drop. See the Lockdown Birthday Kit, which contains games, bath products and fitness clothing, or the Date Night Kit, which includes a whole host of goods including candles and massage oil. That’s not all: Every order across the site comes with a gifted hand sanitiser and disinfectant spray and 10% of all sales will be donated to Age UK, the UK’s leading charity for old people. Bravo!
Food: Emily Crisps
“Do an ad when it’s warmer, they said. More people will see it, they said.”
This is not a brand that needed to change too much – people still love snacks, after all! – but that had to quickly adapt a marketing strategy conceived in pre-Corona times.
Emily Crisps, owned by Nurture Brands (a company itself focused on sustainability and innovation) had planned a big OOH campaign in the UK for April and May, which hit an obvious roadblock due to corona. Should they cancel?
Nope, not this brand: instead, they went with an ad campaign that gently ripped their situation. Now running on digital billboards across the country, the six different ads are a playful way to get those who do go outside – or who see the OOH ads indirectly online – to remember the brand. Especially given the British penchant for self-deprecation! Check them out here on Instagram, and then find out about another OOH campaign by Netflix (that wasn’t really by Netflix!).