The Post-Pandemic Business Era:
Part 1: How Brands Must Reimagine Themselves for the Future

Michael Sauer Customer & Market Insights, Customer Experience, Strategy

Enter the Third Disruption

Since 2000, we’ve experienced three major business disruptions—the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the financial crisis of 2008 and now the COVID-19 global pandemic. As we look to the future, brands will once again have to reimagine their role and relevance in an altered marketplace if they hope to continue to grow and evolve.

For many organizations, the economic disruption of the resulting recession will prove untenable for their business. But for those who can persevere, this moment is an opportunity to evolve repositioning of their brand to align with new cultural and marketplace shifts.

At Magnani, we’ve identified three marketplace shifts that will shape the future for brands:

  • Contactless society
  • New product and service innovation
  • Social good

Part 1 – A Contactless Society

Our first shift, and part one of our three-article series, looks at how organizations must redefine their brand and customer experience in an emerging contactless society. At Magnani, we think society’s new social distancing attitudes and behaviors will prove long-lasting, with major implications for how people will expect to interact with brands. Companies must begin planning and implementing new digital strategies to meet these new customer needs and find ways to connect emotionally without the physical interactions that have typified past experiences.

Less Contact. Greater Connection.

As we comply with six-foot, social-distancing guidelines and mindfully steer clear of each other to avoid physical contact, companies and businesses built on personal interactions will need to rethink their customer experience. As statewide quarantines have already quickly demonstrated, the sectors and supplier/vendor ecosystems most impacted are restaurants, retail, gyms, tourism, hospitality, entertainment, events and education. Soon to follow will be corporate business, insurance and finance with their teams of agents, advisors, consultants and sales representatives.

The good news is, people are beginning to adopt and embrace technology as a meaningful way to stay connected as they work from home or e-learn their way through the remaining school year. Educational institutions throughout the country are addressing the digital divide by providing devices and Wi-Fi hotspots by the thousands. Comcast is providing basic internet for free to help keep people engaged and connected. Zoom and Microsoft Teams  are now the newest, most popular platforms for corporate collaboration and video conferencing—both providing engagement and connection to others but without the risk of physical contact. Grandparents, book clubs, teachers, music instructors, theater companies and city orchestras are using Zoom and other video platforms to unify and connect with family, friends, students and patrons through digital events during this time of isolation.

The Digital Now

At Magnani, we’re closely considering the near- and long-term future of digital experiences and believe that digital apps and portals will be crucial to brands moving forward. We anticipate that customers will increasingly seek out and prioritize contactless brand interactions, expecting a wider variety of engaging digital options such as video chat, VR, AR, self-serve account tools and other online resources. We anticipate these expectations will grow in the face of current and future social-distancing strategies. What was once a niche digital trend will soon be a mainstream, touchless user experience.

  • Video chat consultations
  • Telemedicine health care
  • Self-serve account tools
  • Subscription services
  • Cashless, app scan payment
  • “Skip the line” payment
  • VR to learn a new skill or explore a museum
  • AR to visualize new home interiors or fashion styles
Design works, until it doesn’t.

In environments where direct contact with customers is limited, we know that intuitive digital interactions can help create strong and lasting connections with consumers. Companies investing in digital now will be well-positioned to maintain and grow their businesses, while laggards will lose market share as this new normal emerges.

Coming Up

In part two of our series, we’ll sharpen our focus on how brands will need to rethink their product and service offerings to meet the needs of consumers in a new era of high unemployment, limited budgets and heightened preparedness while increasing their readiness for the next disruption.

Part two

ABOUT US

Magnani is an experience design and strategy firm that crafts transformational digital experiences to delight users and deliver sustainable competitive market advantages for our clients.

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