As the demand for Coronavirus medical supplies goes up, help has started to pour in from the most unexpected of places.
A world that’s facing its biggest health crisis in a century and, perhaps, ever.
COVID-19 is a pandemic. Over 19,000 people have lost their lives to the virus, for which there is no vaccine yet. While people are taking all the necessary precautions, the health workers are regularly putting their lives at risk as they treat people suffering from Coronavirus. Unfortunately, there’s a shortage of masks, gloves, and ventilators globally.
Keeping this shortage in mind, help has started to pour in, but it’s not from the place you’d expect.
A TechCrunch report on March 24, 2020, says that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will start manufacturing face masks and, in the coming weeks, donate critical medical equipment to first responders and healthcare workers.
The automobile maker is installing the production capacity at one of its factories in China and plans to make one million masks a month. The distribution will be solely focused on the US, Canada and Mexico.
Mike Manley, CEO, FCA, was quoted as saying, “In addition to the support we are giving to increase the production of ventilators, we canvassed our contacts across the healthcare industry and it was very clear that there is an urgent and critical need for face masks. We’ve marshalled the resources of the FCA Group to focus immediately on installing production capacity for making masks and supporting those most in need on the front line of this pandemic.”
Diageo India, the liquor company that’s behind brands like McDowell’s No 1 whisky and Smirnoff Vodka, in a press release, said that it will produce 300,000 litres of bulk hand sanitisers to help combat Coronavirus.
Besides, it is supporting the hospitality sector with a Rs 30 million healthcare insurance to bartenders and is donating approximately 1.50 lakh masks to the public health departments of five states.
Anand Kripalu, MD and CEO, Diageo India, says, “We stand united with the government and citizens of our country in the fight against Coronavirus. The demand for sanitisers is increasing by the hour, and we would like to use our manufacturing units to join in the effort to fill the demand-supply gap for sanitisers, so critical at this hour. Healthcare providers are at the forefront of this fight, and donating masks is a token of our appreciation for their selfless dedication to fighting the epidemic.” He added, “We also want to support our partners in the hospitality industry, especially the bartenders, who are facing unprecedented challenges due to the closure of restaurants and bars.”
If automobile makers and liquor companies making supplies to combat Coronavirus seems odd, wait till you hear about fashion houses.
According to a BBC report on March 16, Louis Vuitton intends to tackle the shortage of antiviral products across France. “LVMH will use the production lines of its perfume and cosmetic brands… to produce large quantities of hydroalcoholic gels…”
A report by The Guardian on March 24 said that Prada would produce 110,000 masks by April 6. Also, Gucci has said that it will make more than one million masks, and Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga – both of which, like Gucci, are owned by Kering – will also begin manufacturing them.
Dabur rides on the surging sanitiser demand; launches ‘Dabur Sanitize’
The brand initially had plans to launch the product next month. But, given the current hike in demand, Dabur decided to launch it earlier.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, the demand for soaps and sanitisers in the market has swollen. Most items, as of today, are out of stock, and consumers can only purchase a limited quantity. In times like these, new players launching products which are in high demand comes as no surprise. Riding on the wave is FMCG giant Dabur India, which has launched ‘Dabur Sanitize’ hand sanitiser.
The product is available in three different fragrances – Regular, Lemon and Strawberry. Initially, it will be available across all e-commerce platforms in five stock-keeping units (SKUs), priced at ₹370 (500 ml), ₹200 (250 ml), ₹122 (85 ml), ₹85 (60 ml), and ₹72 (50 ml).
Over a call, Ganapathy Subramaniam, DGM, marketing, Dabur India, confirms that the brand had plans to do a phased launch of the product next month. But, given the current scenario (hike in demand due to the spread of COVID-19), the launch was advanced. “The product launch of the sanitiser was already in the pipeline. We had everything in place to launch the product next month, but went ahead and advanced the launch due to the swollen demand for the product.”
The 60 per cent alcohol-based sanitiser claims to instantly kill 99.9 per cent germs without the use of soap and water.
In a press release issued by the brand, Rajeev John, marketing head – home & personal care, Dabur India, said, “In today’s world, where consumers are facing increasing health hazards due to the emergence of new viruses and pandemics, there is a growing need for getting instant and on-the-go protection. Dabur hand sanitisers offer consumers anytime, anywhere protection against life-threatening bacteria and viruses.”
“Initially launched on the e-commerce space, Dabur will be extending the brand to modern retail and offline stores in the coming days. We will leverage the strong distribution network that Dabur has with an initial focus on modern retail. We are also running a series of campaigns to drive consumer awareness about how to keep themselves protected from such deadly viruses,” John added.
Other major players in the category include Reckitt Benckiser’s Dettol and HUL’s Lifebuoy
The much loved Parle G biscuits will be released through state depots for free over three weeks and company officials are working closely with the government on the most effective distribution channels. Parle Biscuits, India’s leading biscuit and confectionery manufacturer, today announced they will donate ONE CRORE Parle G packet every week of the current lockdown. Parle, in this unprecedented time of national crisis, is ready to join hands with the Government of India and play a part in easing the difficulty of those who have lost their daily income. The much loved Parle G biscuits will be released through state depots for free over three weeks and company officials are working closely with the government on the most effective distribution channels.
A steep surge in orders and inability of the firms’ to service them due to the lockdown has led many to suspend operations.
Flipkart, the Indian e-commerce giant owned by Walmart has said on its website that it’s temporarily suspended its services. Similar messages were seen on the websites of online grocery delivery firms BigBasket and Grofers. Amazon India said it’s halting all non-essential sales at the moment.
Prime Minister Modi, in a public address, had ordered the country to go under lockdown for 21 days starting from Tuesday (March 25, 2020) to combat the spread of COVID – 19 while several Indian states had already initiated lockdown as a preventive measure
The Government of India has already identified the list of jobs and services deemed “essential” and, therefore, are not required to be in lockdown for the next few weeks. At present, there are several commodities scheduled under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, as essential drugs; fertilizer, whether inorganic, organic or mixed; foodstuffs, including edible oilseeds and oils etc.
Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has represented and highlighted the Non-Essential products/services which are an integral part of the manufacturing process of Essential products. Many of the food items including milk, edible oil, processed foods, medicines, daily use items like toothpaste, soaps are dependent on raw materials, packaging materials and transportation of these items from manufacturing units to the food/milk/oil manufacturing units.
ICC completely understand and appreciate the lockdown till 31st March. However, ICC feels the need for a clear definition of products and services to ensure smooth manufacturing and supply of Essential goods. Many Non-Essential products are necessary to ensure a regular supply of essential goods. It is important to keep these items easily available as the right kind of packaging is key to hygiene and ample availability of quality food products. Else unsafe food products may find their way into the market.
A look at Ogilvy’s report on how brands can navigate through a crisis
From taking lessons from past crises to dissecting the present scenario for better understanding, this report is a helpful guide for brands.
In retrospect, certain events offer tremendous learning – what we should, or could, have done, instead. This is exactly what Ogilvy did in a new report aimed at helping brands navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Chris Reitermann, chief executive, Asia and Greater China, Ogilvy, says, in the report, “We revisited SARS and the 2008 Global Economic Crisis. We looked for potential learnings on how some brands found ways to rebound stronger. How new business models were shaped during the crisis, and how bold moves and timely investment enabled winning brands to gain disproportionate share.”
“We have looked at how we can apply these learnings, our understanding of today’s environment, and the specific situations surrounding COVID-19 to come up with actionable guidance for brands,” he added.
“Whilst there is still uncertainty about how and when the virus will be contained, what we do know, for sure, is that the crisis will pass,” says Reitermann.
“We believe, and history supports this. Agile and competitively-minded brands, that get it right in the tough times, can capture competitive share and be best-placed to capitalise on the eventual rebound and beyond,” he said.
The report includes five timely lessons from the past, which are relevant today:
1. ‘Black Swan’ events break or make a brand.
2. There will be an after the event period.
3. There will be new behaviour and opportunities.
4. Key is to managing all time horizons.
5. Be prepared.
Due to COVID-19, there will be a change in purchasing behaviour that may become the norm because the longer the crisis goes on, the more we get used to living like this. And, there is a strong possibility the changes we experience will become the new normal.
The changes, which the virus will influence, include emergency purchases, feel-good consumption, home purchases, and so on.
As per the report, the brands have to make efforts to matter across three-time horizons. They are: Right now (acute outbreak phase), Medium-term (recovery phase), and Long term (new normal).
Brands in the ‘Right now’ phase should do this:
1. Activate purpose and optimise funnel mix.
2. Be where people are now, and support what they’re doing.
3. Create meaningful action and support for public health and safety.
4. Support partners and associates to manage through constraints.
5. Build meaningful utility and content to help people tide over crisis time.
6. Contribute to corporate responsibility initiatives that matter to relief measures.
7. Add cheer and positivity to people’s lives as they struggle with uncertain times.
During the recovery phase:
1. Make up for lost ground by leveraging shifts.
2. Affected categories will rebound differently.
3. Category first-timers are an opportunity to convert into regular users.
4. Business and services born during the crisis may provide opportunities for disruption and competitive edge.