5 Proactive Ways Brands Can Adapt to the New Normal in a Post-Pandemic Malaysia

New Normal Malaysia

By Julia Koh & Syira Junaidi
May 2020
2020 has been a tough year so far. But at least we’re back at work again. People can somewhat move around and businesses are allowed to operate again.
But there’s something different in the air. It’s not the same as 2019 anymore, you realise. There is no way to ctrl-z to the way it used to be, this is life as we know it from now on. This is the new normal.

A good brand knows that change is only natural, especially now. Good brands are proactive instead of reactive, they’re adaptive to change and are flexible in addressing needs. Thus, the new normal is just another phase of change for them.

So, let’s start becoming proactive brands. Here are 5 such ways we can adapt to this new climate where customer behaviour is new, the market is uncertain and surviving the crisis means staying afloat.
  1. Re-evaluate Customers’ Demands
    Obviously, this is what all brands should do right now.

    Many things are different now in the new normal; lifestyles and routines are altered, new habits are formed and thus buying behaviours changed. Look at what your target audience needs currently, what products or services you can offer, and how to reconstruct your branding into a message that gets with the times.

    For example, customers today require more delivery options due to movement restrictions and social distancing. They expect to be able to track their orders, pay online using cashless mediums, and receive refunds and reassurance that their purchases are protected. Thus, many F&B brands have started offering food deliveries and pick-ups. We can see more of Lalamove, Mr.Speedy, FoodPanda and other runners on the road.

    Here are some other brands we know that are quick to address new demands:

    • Grab – created a new service called Grab Express. Customers can hire runners to send parcels, documents and food on-demand. Grab has a good track record when it comes to demand adaptation.
    • Louis Vuitton – makes hand-sanitisers in lieu of perfumes.
    • Hyundai – offers quality and certified second-hand cars. Many customers have hygiene concerns when travelling to work using public transportation, hence they now look for affordable cars of their own.
  2. Re-evaluate Your Operations
    This is also an essential thing to do before you start any new adaptations. You could realise that you need to get into e-commerce ASAP but are your operations ready? Do you have the manpower, talent, and resources to ensure a smooth customer journey? Are you willing to put money and time to make this new adaptation work? E-commerce is more than just putting up a website, there’s a lot of backend work to ensure customers get a good, seamless experience and that your business operations are able to perform the transactions smoothly.

    Other than e-commerce, you might need to evaluate your expenses, marketing collateral, and other business operations. Cash is tight, that’s true. So you need to decide where you need to stretch your cash and where you can invest in more. Since the MCO, many employees are working from home (remember to always delegate work to them). Thus, some overhead (utility, petrol) can be reduced, for example.

  3. Go Digital, Now!
    If this isn’t clear enough to you by now, here’s your sign:

    Even road-side ‘warungs’ are adapting to the new normal by going digital through its most rudimentary form; Whatsapp orders. Customers craving for their favourite ‘pisang goreng’ can text a number and order through Whatsapp. Their snack would be promptly delivered through a third-party runner or by the business owner herself.

    As your brand has more foothold than Mak Cik Kiah’s business, there should be more effort into adapting to digital commerce. Especially for brick-and-mortar stores, there is now a pressing need for customers to be able to buy online. So let’s make their buying experience frictionless and seamless.

  4. Aim to Delight
    It’s not enough that you serve customers what they want, but you have to go a step further and delight them. This will give your brand a competitive edge in a tough market. Remember, brand loyalty and customer retention save you more money than finding new customers.

    Even something small such as a Thank You note, a smile during take-out and flexibility in a time when everyone is facing uncertainties could make a customer’s day and get good impressions of your brand.

  5. Be Helpful & Genuine
    Don’t be afraid to put your brand out there to the community. But if you want to appeal to emotions, make sure that it’s genuine and relevant. It is so easy to lapse and offend something that everyone takes seriously such as a global pandemic. We don’t have to tell you what happened to the local Women’s Ministry the other day. Ensure that your brand message is authentic and sincere.

    Customers love brand outreach that is assuring, empathetic, and genuine. For example, some restaurants give out food for the elderly and the homeless, boutiques sew PPE suits in lieu of wedding gowns to give to frontline staff, and telcos give out extra internet quotas for customers who work from home. For this Hari Raya, TNB shares out an advertisement that has an entertaining and comforting message for those not able to ‘balik kampung’.

Conclusion

Don’t let your brand stay in the dark for too long. Visibility is still very important during this down-time. Evaluate what your customer wants, how can you help, and how your brand can make the best out of the new normal. Let’s start being a proactive brand that always listens to the customer and is one step ahead of competitors!