It’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic has turned our lives upside down. It’s been two months since social distancing and other business-related restrictions were announced to slow the spread of the virus, causing a dust storm of uncertainty for business owners across the country. These restrictions have meant that thousands of customer-facing businesses including cafes and restaurants, gyms, and beauty salons have been forced to temporarily stop trading. And, as a result, not only have these businesses suffered from a decrease in consumer demand, they’ve lost revenue and staff. Some have shut up shop for good.
In contrast, despite the restrictions, there are some businesses breathing a sigh of relief, having found opportunities to transform. Entrepreneurial spirit and creative thinking has led to some business owners thriving amid coronavirus. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, two in five businesses have changed how they deliver goods or services to accommodate for the changing lifestyle of their customers. In this blog, I look at three entrepreneurs who have done exactly that. Against the odds, they found an opportunity to engage with new audiences amidst what economists are calling one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression. Here are their stories.
Online retailer of tween and teen girls activewear
Local retailer LavaTribe found an opportunity to reach new audiences through the power of video. Founder Sarah Greenaway started filming 15-minute ‘Family Movement Sessions’ with her girls, Poppy (11) and Cleo (8), when she felt that homeschooling wasn’t providing enough physical activity. Part of Lava Tribe’s ethos is encouraging young girls, tweens, and teens to continue to participate in sport, and live an active lifestyle. So, Sarah and her girls needed to practice what they preach. Since launching the first live session on Facebook, the series of videos has amassed over 20,000 views and is also now available on YouTube and on their website.
“We love helping people to stay active,” says Poppy. “And it’s fantastic to have something in our week that gives us a routine and connects us with other people. We’ve even had people joining in from New Zealand!” Since finding a unique opportunity to increase their digital presence, LavaTribe is proving its worth in the online retail space. Not only that but they’re reaching potential customers across the world. By shifting their focus to providing content that centres on their customers’ newfound needs, they’ve tapped into the opportunity to stop selling and start helping. Which, in turn, is building a tribe of brand advocates.
Supplier of occupational health and safety products
What happens when your customers are some of the hardest hit by the coronavirus restrictions? Gather resources, research, brainstorm, and change direction. Originally designed for employees in the manufacturing and construction industries, Preventure’s wearable devices use sports technology to assess risks of injury during manual handling tasks. As a result of the outbreak of COVID-19, rather than seek new injury prevention programs, its safety professionals shifted their focus somewhere new.
Preventure is imminent to release another wearable device called Office Coach, designed for remote office workers. The device will use a back sensor and provide slouch, stretch, and step alerts to alleviate discomfort or pain caused by prolonged sitting. Not only have they designed a new product, but the team has also developed a ’Prevent Deconditioning’ YouTube video series featuring Australian sporting heroes. The fitness series aims to help workers reduce injury risk when they return to work through control and strength exercises. Introducing these innovative ideas has demonstrated the brand’s ability to adapt and create an emotional bond between the brand and its customers.
Northside Wines, VIC
Northcote’s Northside Wines team pride themselves on highlighting the flavours of some of Australia’s most daring and different wine farmers. After restrictions were enforced on the hospitality industry in late March, Northside Wines took action fast by taking a deeper look into how they could adapt their offering to keep their customers engaged with the brand and their business alive.
Despite temporality closing their doors for wining and dining-in amid coronavirus, Northside Wines began operating as a bottle shop and running promotions on home-delivered wine packages. It also launched ‘Wines Against Sobriety,’ a virtual masterclass for wine enthusiasts and those looking for a unique way to pass the time in isolation. Hosted by Northside Wines’ in-house sommelier, customers can now order wine tasting packs and dial into a zoom call to invite the spirit of Northside Wines into their homes.
During this time of social isolation, it’s no surprise that people of all generations are consuming far more digital content than ever before. So why not offer value to their interactions? By adapting their service to the online realm, Northside Wines now have the opportunity to build brand loyalty and create real connections with their customers by way of intimate virtual events.
What’s your success story?
These success stories are just a few among the thousands of case studies that prove how businesses can adapt when faced with adversity. And the fact is, for the good of the economy, we need them to survive after the dust has settled and we start to reignite small business. What are you doing differently? If you’ve had to adapt your business to suit the climate of coronavirus, then we’d love to hear from you.