Here we go again: Everything is Changing! (COVID-19 edition)

Posted — May 18, 2021

Did COVID-19 really cause transformational changes?

COVID-19 has transformed business forever. The whole 5 years of change happening in 3 months type of anecdotes are everywhere. But whether it is transformational as is debatable.

The thing is…we, especially marketers, are expecting seismic changes. Google ‘COVID-19 and marketing’ and see all the content generated. They all say how ecommerce purchases have gone through the roof. Or how delivery options have changed grocery stores and restaurants. Or how video gaming is taking over all entertainment options. These are not fundamental changes. For marketing, positioning, messaging, and marketing mixes need updating. But that’s always an on going process anyway.

Changes in channels and service delivery are not transformational changes in human behavior. Basic human behavior, needs, and wants don’t evolve in the span of a year.

Currently, air travel is at 65% of 2019 levels. That sounds bad till you see 2020 was 10% of 2019 numbers. We all still need to go on vacation and see family. Some meetings and events will be permanently virtual, but not all. In the US, ecommerce was 10% of all retail in 2018, 11% in 2019. And in 2020? 14%. With all the restrictions, lockdowns, and collective consternation, I expected a bigger jump.

Employers are already wanting employees back in the office. There is a lack of trust. Plus extroverts need others to think. And there is all this office space on a long lease. In the name of collaboration, most employees will be back to their daily commute.

What was the last monumental shift in culture? The iPhone and the availability of the Internet on mobile devices. COVID-19 is not the same scale of change.