Were our COVID Predictions for the Industry accurate?

What we got right, what we got wrong.

Back in May 2020, we posted a blog with predictions for how the pandemic would impact our industry. Since then, a lot has changed …and some things have stayed the same. For one, nearly everybody at Highlands is still working from home, with the exception of a few folks at HQ who have to take mask-wearing, social distancing and sanitization measures to ensure everyone’s safety. Let’s see what we got right, what we got wrong and what is still true for the future.

What We Got Right

Coronavirus has changed the world forever.

In March, we saw a big change in our day-to-day (all social functions halted, a run on toilet paper and other essential items and a big shift to the digital world). While some places have opened back up and supply chains have mostly recovered, we still believe that the pandemic will leave an everlasting impact on the industry, as well as the human race.

Working practices changed.

For those who can, work from home (WFH) and school from home (and everything from home) has become the new normal. Throughout 2020, we helped many of our clients develop their messaging to reach this new product category. We believe remote working and learning will persist even after many receive the vaccine.

eCommerce will continue to accelerate – only faster.

As a result of the pandemic, many sources estimate that eCommerce growth was expedited by five years. Our eCommerce and marketing teams have been working towards this future by helping clients launch consumer-facing brands, eComm-enabled websites and grow sales with eTailers (like Amazon, Wayfair, Target, Walmart, and more).

The new economic norm.

The heavy focus on health, safety and wellness was and will continue to be relevant for a long time to come. Seeing someone wear a mask in public is no longer jarring as it once was. We believe businesses will continue to be held to a higher standard of sanitization and safety. And this means communication of your efforts around health and wellness is a new business staple.

What We Got Wrong

Quick reopening and recovery.

Unfortunately, the recovery has not happened quite as fast as we originally thought. COVID-19 didn’t hit everywhere all at once. And the first, second and third waves of the virus were devastating at different times for different places. Some areas have reopened but then had to shut down again. With everyone recovering at different speeds, you can’t look to any one place to estimate what your own recovery will look like. Back in May, we looked to China’s economic recovery – but it’s not as similar to the rest of the world as we would have thought.

What’s Still True

Recovery isn’t stationary, you’ll need to continue pivoting your business as the world changes.

Reminder of our recovery checklist:

  1. Take a deeper look at the resiliency of your production and transportation networks
  2. Consider expanding your online presence as this will be a key step in preparing for the post-pandemic marketplace
  3. Adjust your planning to take stark marketplace disruptions more seriously
  4. Make disruption planning part of your overall strategy

Highlands is still here to help you navigate this journey. We continue to develop relevant insights and materials, new strategies, and create immediate opportunities for our clients. Contact us to see how Highlands can work for your business.