The “Covid Correction”

Going through the list of travel and event cancellations for the team and myself  for the next two months got me thinking of just how many events and trips firms like ours have had to cancel or postpone.

Arriving into Singapore from London just two weeks ago on a flight that’s usually full but this time was at 20% capacity struck home how much airlines and the travel industry as a whole is impacted. Imagine a world where travel is so limited, something that we take for granted, the ability to move freely from country to country is now so constrained. Empty airports, no boarding queues, hotel floors being closed, countries in lockdown mode. Seems surreal but its reality in 2020, a milestone year and the start of a new decade where two months in, everything is looking very vulnerable.

I couldn’t help thinking back to 2003 and SARS, having started my first company three months before the onset of that disease. At the time I was concerned we may not be In business by the end of the year. In hindsight we stayed in business and continue to do well.

It may be that the nature of our business, information services, data, insights is resilient to these contagions, wherein in times where fear and uncertainty prevail, clients look for more information and data to separate the facts from the fiction.

I call this period the Covid Correction, simply because I strongly believe things will get much better with the virus in the next 2-3 months. Yes, there will be impacts to business, profitability of firms and there will be some pain to go through, but in the longer term much like the SARS epidemic, we will come out stronger and more resilient as people, companies and countries.

It also makes me think of how we as leaders and brands communicate and behave in these crisis periods. Do we panic and run for cover or do we stay on course and show confidence to our teams and our clients/customers?

One thing for sure is that the impact of Covid is significantly higher in terms of mental anxiety and worry than it is in actual manifestation of cases and infections. We have teams across offices in a number of countries including in China where our people have showed resilience and positivity in the face of this virus.

Working remotely and with their eyes and ears to the ground providing information and insights from each market. Which brands are impacted? How is consumer behavior changing and whats affected? With a keen sense to what people are doing as the nature of our business is around human behavior. At its very essence it is about people and  studying people.

Within times of crisis is always opportunity, it could come in more domestic travel rather than international, markets often overlooked like many in Southeast Asia like Vietnam, Thailand offer strong opportunity. India seems relatively untouched from the virus onslaught.  Ecommerce is a channel that could leverage greater returns, the affluent and high net worth still have money and they will look to spend it when sentiment turns positive. Health and Wellbeing will be trending up.

Lets project out and visualize December 2020, the year is ending, the virus has been eliminated, markets are up again, confidence has been restored, business is back and the world looks like it hasn’t skipped a beat.

This is the hope we have and one which we as leaders have to portray. I wish all our clients, partners, teams and their families the strength and resilience to come out of this covid “correction” with good health and spirit.

Ali Mirza


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