As I dash through the snow toward a fresh beginning in 2021, I reflect on a year that oxymoronically feels like the longest year ever AND one of the most fast-paced and reactive.
My family set up our Christmas tree a week earlier than usual to combat the doldrums of nine months in quarantine. We were not alone.
The state of Massachusetts saw an earlier than expected influx of early Christmas tree sales. Many sellers of Christmas trees were surprised by the number of new faces that arrived at their farm before Thanksgiving and were worried about the experience of their typical customers who would arrive to their farms with nary a good tree in sight! Some were already almost out of stock for the year!
The Tipping Point and the Pandemic
In the very popular business book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, author Malcolm Gladwell talks about the "magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire."
Published in 2002, Gladwell ironically starts the book by comparing sudden product popularity to an "epidemic of the flu" (too soon, Malcolm... too soon). COVID-19 has certainly tipped the scales in both directions for many industries.
Imagine if you owned one of those tree farms. Imagine if you were a mall Santa that suddenly could not go to a mall? What would you do?
Scaling when you reach the tipping point
So, how did COVID-19 tip certain industries towards higher demand? A perfect example is in healthcare, where demand for healthcare workers is at an all-time high. Some traveling nurses made three times their normal salary due to nursing shortages throughout the country. Our country's healthcare system was not ready for the influx of patients.
A case study in scaling appropriately as things tipped was the shipping and logistics industry. Even with a 37% increase in E-commerce spending in the third quarter ending in September of this year, shipping companies had solutions to scale. FedEx in particular hired 70,000 people, meaning that their processes and campaigns were ready to go to meet this demand. They had the HR capabilities necessary to hire and onboard that many, in short order.
Pivoting your business as demand falls
Demand does not always shift in the right direction. Due to restrictions placed during the pandemic, many businesses, such as restaurants, health & wellness centers, airlines, casinos, and car dealerships, were impacted negatively.
How do you combat this? You diversify your offering and rebrand!
Let's return to that Santa Clause example, shall we? Many new and fun solutions were thought up as different ways to get kids in front of a Santa this year, without going to the mall!
Santa's Club - A personalized letter and video message with your name mentioned
Jingle Ring - Virtual Santa Zoom visits that feature many, diverse options