Adapt to new consumer needs
Lockdowns around the world are driving a great consumer migration to online channels.
In many segments these are likely to be the only viable sales channels in the near term.
But demand is highly variable. Staples such as food, personal care and pet supplies are seeing massive surges, where others like fashion are being hit hard.
Look ahead to the future
Amid all the present challenges, it’s important to remember that this crisis will pass. Economies will rebound creating a “new normal.” It’s therefore vital to build the capabilities that will be needed in the post-pandemic world, closely monitoring the permanence of the different consumer patterns, behaviors and channel preferences established during the emergency.
It also includes thinking about how to reset and repurpose both operations and workforces for those different consumer needs, while increasing flexibility through capabilities like third-party manufacturing and logistics.
The business will need funds for these investments. Finance has a vital role, preserving cash in the difficult months to come and helping to identify and support suppliers and customers who may otherwise be vulnerable, who will play a vital role in the post COVID-19 recovery.
Identify cash collection risks and look for opportunities to optimize costs and payment terms. Reprioritize investments for the post-pandemic era with an overarching objective of renewing the business model and shifting to intelligent, data-driven operations.
For those with the means, this is the time to identify M&A opportunities acquiring capabilities that could dramatically drive growth in the months and years ahead.
Focus on what’s needed now and next
COVID-19 calls on consumer goods leaders to address three key needs simultaneously. The first is the near-term need to respond urgently to protect the business and the communities it serves for the duration of the pandemic.
The second is to reset relationships and ways of working, adapting the business to what may be a very different set of consumer, customer and worker priorities on the other side.
The third is a longer-term need to renew and scale operations to support a post COVID-19 business model for a future marked by growth and resilience.
The pandemic is putting virtually every aspect of consumer goods businesses to the test. In the end, it will be those organizations that are most adaptable to change that will be best positioned to ride out the disruption and help both their businesses and their societies come through stronger.
Oliver Wright is managing director, global lead Consumer Goods & Services at Accenture.