If your business has survived the year 2020, congratulations! You made it. To survive the year, several companies had to either pivot or close down. According to Yelp’s Economic Impact Report, 60% of business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic are permanent in the US. Managing a company amidst the chaos created by the pandemic must have been extremely difficult for most. And now with new COVID-19 variants coming from various parts of the world like the UK and South Africa, we might have The COVID-19 World Cup by the end of 2021!
The crisis disrupted billion-dollar industries like Tourism, Restaurants and Services. Both small and big companies had to adapt and evolve in these pressing times. Instead, it was a golden opportunity to tap the untapped market and rise to success for some industries, such as the Edtech and Healthtech sectors. The pandemic has made way for a new era of digitisation. But not all businesses were or are prepared for the increasingly digital future. We saw many companies pivoting to adopt technology. At the same time, many of them did not entirely depend on it.
Companies in 2020 have fought the crisis with innovative pivots and breaking into new markets. So, for all the 2020 survivors and non-survivors, here are some innovative pivots the Coronavirus year has seen:
- Red Roof
US-based economy hotel chain Red Roof seamlessly pivoted amidst the pandemic to address the consumer needs. After researching what the travellers and general public want, Red Roof came up with innovative programs to sustain itself. Its programs such as Work Under Our Roof, Hospital Refresh and Student Support Program were very well thought of. Lets briefly look at the three programs:
Work Under Our Roof – Providing safe, convenient and comfortable workspaces with a fast internet connection, TV and workstation. Rooms available from Monday to Friday from 8 am-6 pm at lower rates starting from US$ 39.
Student Support Program – Offered to students who need to quarantine or need temporary off-campus accommodations.
Hospital Refresh – Providing First Responders or Front-Line workers a place to rest, at discounted rates.
The German Luxury Car manufacturer BMW made a shift in its global marketing budget by backing esports as the future sports. It partnered with five gaming organisations, Cloud9 (US), Fnatic (US), FunPlus Phoenix (China), T1 (South Korea) and G2 Esports (Germany). BMW’s goal is to target the audience playing games in titles like Fortnite, FIFA and League of Legends.
“The younger generation, being born digital-first doesn’t care about TV or traditional advertising. Esports is our tool to reach them,” said Stefan Ponikva, head of BMW Brand Experience Shows & Events. BMW had previously sponsored the European Championship Series Summer Finals for Riot Games’ infamous ‘League of Legends’ in 2017. Its current partnership with the five esports enterprises will help BMW increase its engagement manifolds, as they have around 8.1 million followers combined on their social media platforms.
American vacation rental online marketplace company Airbnb was one of the many companies hard hit during the lockdown period. With the demand for rental homes gone down in a blink of an eye, Airbnb found an innovative way to keep its revenues in check and the company afloat.
Airbnb started ‘Online Experiences’, where people can learn unique activities from various hosts.
Airbnb believes that the travellers would love to pay to spend time with the hosts they would have met and also learn a wide range of activities from them like meditation, cooking, fortune reading etc. A good thing is that the experiences are also free for a few, such as the senior citizens. With this new Online Experiences, Airbnb has helped people connect and share their virtual setting experiences.
- Brookfield Properties
Brookfield Properties is a real estate company in the US. It is also one of the world’s most prominent real estate managers that owns many malls across the US. Due to COVID-19 people started avoiding crowded places, stopped going to malls for shopping, the theatres shut down. That is when Brookfield found an opportunity to make money from the empty Parking lots at the malls.
Parking lots turned theatres! Brookfield Properties signed a deal with Kilburn Live, an entertainment company. It turned the empty parking lots into drive-in theatres in 5 cities. With traditional movie theatres shut down, this was a brilliant way to bring Hollywood to the people.
- Padcare Labs
India-based Padcare Labs was founded in 2018 to provide menstrual waste management services. After the virus outbreak, the demand for sanitisation of objects and surfaces increased manifolds. Apart from the regular disinfectants such as cleaners, sanitisers and liquid disinfectants, UV-C light-based has been in demand, especially after it was confirmed that UV-C light could permanently damage the RNA sequence of Corona Virus.
The menstrual waste management services provider took this opportunity to pivot and provide UV-C disinfection products. Two products have been launched by Padcare- UVSATHI (disinfection of surface areas and inanimate objects) and UVHANDY (for decontamination of inanimate surfaces). UVSATHI is a remote-control air and surface disinfection unit while UVHANDY is a handheld and portable sanitisation device. They could quickly pivot because of their experience with the core product UVECO, a UV-based touchless sanitary pad collection bin.
Founded in 2015, Rapido is an India-based bike taxi startup. It encourages people to offer bike rides to others. During the lockdown, Rapido had to suspend its operations in April. But after a short period, it pivoted its model to start delivering essential items to sustain its business. Rapido aimed to help people get the necessary items at their doorstep. The startup also partnered with other food delivery apps like Bigbasket, Big Bazaar, Spencer’s Retail, and locals to deliver essential items.
Rapido also launched Rapido Local in May. It is a person-to-person delivery service that allows customers to request pick-up and drop off food, groceries, and medicines. “This is how, with strong tech capabilities, we have innovated our way out of the pandemic. We are committed towards providing a safe riding experience for all our customers. We were able to implement various innovations for our customers and Captains within a stipulated time frame and maintained business continuity,” said Aravind Sanka, Co-founder of Rapido.
- Collectiv Food
London-based Collectiv Food is a food procurement platform for restaurants. It is a supplier to hundreds of restaurants in London. Therefore, it is evident that it must’ve been hard hit during the lockdown. Thus, it was essential to pivot from its original services to keep generating income.
Collectiv partnered with Farmdrop, an online grocer working with farmers and producers. It started to deliver fresh and quality meat, fish, plant-based alternatives and desserts to London homes. It started ‘Farmshop’, a direct-to-consumer offering that delivers tonnes of fresh produce direct to homes, done either directly via Slerp (Ecommerce food and beverages delivery), or via their partnership with Deliveroo.
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