Since the coronavirus outbreak consumers and businesses have been left in a peculiar situation. This is due to the UK Government’s change on its “herd” strategy.

The successful Chinese model involved preparation and isolation. This entailed setting-up of bespoke emergency hospitals and closing down the affected cities. By contrast, the UK tried a different approach to take the virus head on. However, the death toll quickly back-footed the decision makers. As a result it appears that now we are all being told to start the real preparation for this pandemic.

Consumers and businesses are baffled, because for all intent and purposes it is a U-turn. Inevitably it will have an impact on businesses as well as consumers’ behavior. Recent events suggest that businesses were ahead of government’s strategy. For example, many businesses took the bold step to allow their employees to work from home. Others decided to close their stores long before the government plan to request them to close down.

Return to normality may take time for the UK

China has managed to contain the pandemic in a relatively short period of time, considering the size of the country. However, it does not look like the same time frame of return to normality will apply to the UK. For example, recent measures such as indefinite school closures on 20 March, and possible exams cancellation for GCSE and A-level students, as stated by the education secretary, seem to suggest that things will not be back to its original state for months.

Although at first it appeared that the corona virus might have a very limited impact on consumers and businesses, based on recent reports and analysis it is self-evident that the impact will be far greater than originally thought.

Consumers will be attracted by diversification

Businesses can develop “just in time” diversification strategies. This should enable them to be able to produce or resource products that are in high demand and easy to source or manufacture. These could include hand sanitizers, anti-bacterial hand wash, covid-19 testing kits and associated packaging, such as plastic bottles and plastic caps.

They will also need to have the right distribution channels to supply the growing demand needed by supermarkets and pharmacies. This is an opportunity for brands to diversify and enlarge their portfolios. This can be achieved by launching products that will not only benefit their businesses, but also help the global population to fight this pandemic.

By responding fast to consumers’ demands at this difficult time, manufacturers can engage consumers with their brand for the long-term, and create brand loyalty in the foreseeable future.

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