Is there a light at the
end of the tunnel?
Despite the social and economic challenges facing businesses and brands in the current climate, the UK can perhaps take solice in the situation in China, which began to feel the effects of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic months ago.
Over the weekend China started to lift its social restrictions as the number of new locally transmitted cases slowed. It is still early days, even for China, as to whether life will be entirely back to normal. Even with social distancing being lifted, two-months in lock-down could mean that consumer behaviours have changed and a new, more digital, normal is left in place.
Major brands and technology firms in China are starting to launch major efforts to re-boost the economy and help brands get back in front of consumers.
Shanghai Fashion Week was due to start today. Instead of going ahead with events, shows will be live-streamed to a wider audience via a partnership with Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao live. The event will show more than 150 brands, including Diane von Furstenberg.
The partnership aims to help independent designers and brands swap out more traditional means of communicating with audiences. For example, press conferences or shows, which would have been the route to market before the virus hit. Alibaba is using the partnership to promote a new ‘suite’ of products that allow brands to fully digitise this process.
On Monday, small groups of residents in Wuhan, where the virus started, were allowed to leave their residential compounds. People were allowed to go food shopping and walk along the streets for the first time in weeks.
At the weekend, the first train arrived in the city ferrying more than 1,000 workers from elsewhere in the province back to the city for work.
On Sunday, according to The Guardian, local authorities said residents could begin returning to work if they did not have a temperature and could provide a green health code, signifying their virus-free status as well as a certificate from their employer. Officials said the city would be “gradually” reopened and public transportation would resume.
China e-commerce platform JD.com announced a raft of initiatives towards helping boost activity for brands again in terms of marketing and promotion in China.
This week, in addition to the ‘Spring Raindrop Plan’, JD.com announced a collaboration with brands to release RMB1.5 billion worth of promotional coupons to consumers in China. The idea is that the coupons will help increase demand and resume sales volumes at a quicker pace.
Travel data co-op Adara has found that the number of searches relating to people looking to travel to China has increased after a severe dip after the Coronavirus started to spread.
According to Adara, in the past two weeks, it has seen an uptick in the number of searchers. Global unique searchers were up 29% for the week of 8 March 2020, compared to the week of 1 March 2020. It said actual flight bookings are also increasing but at a slower rate.
The UK, which is now facing unprecedented levels of disruption with the lockdown enforced last night will be looking to the example set in China in the hope of a prompt, positive outcome.