Morrisons, Next, coronavirus: 5 things that mattered this week and why

With the coronavirus outbreak escalating, we round-up the biggest news from the week including Morrison’s new purpose, how Next is thinking long-term and marketers’ approach to remote working.

morrisons

Morrisons responds to coronavirus

The past few weeks for many has gone by in a blur, of oscillating between overreacting and under-reacting with the nation’s attitude highlighted through the microcosm of supermarkets.

As shelves are left bare and many fear isolation without food, supermarkets are stepping up to protect the most vulnerable and provide certainty in unknown times.

Morrisons recognises this, with the supermarket’s chief executive, David Potts telling Marketing Week: “Familiar brands provide reassurance to consumers and in the end they are looking for their stock to be on the shelves.”

These trying times are seeing brand’s purpose and social consciousness put to the test with Morrison’s adapting it’s own purpose in the time of coronavirus to ‘feeding the nation’.

It is doing this through helping both consumers, suppliers and employees. It is implementing immediate payments for its smaller suppliers to help with cashflow, a colleague hardship fund for those who are in financial difficulty, and giving sick pay to everyone with the virus whether or not they would normally be eligible.

This, plus the launch of a new range of simple-to-order food parcels including options for vegetarians, will mean that when the dust settles Morrisons will be remembered by the public as a brand that helped us get through.

READ MORE: ‘Feed the nation’: Morrisons changes core purpose in response to coronavirus

Brands offer up help during coronavirus crisis

brewdog punk sanitiserMorrisons is not the only company trying to help as the coronavirus crisis escalates.

BrewDog is using its distilleries to make hand sanitiser, which is being given away for free by charities to those in need. Sanitiser products are also being developed by gin makers Verdant Spirits and 58 Gin, while luxury fashion house LVMH has switched production at three of its perfume and cosmetics factories to produce hand sanitiser.

Meanwhile, Zara-owner Inditex is experimenting with converting part of its textile manufacturing capacity in Spain to produce hospital gowns for use in the medical emergency.

Elsewhere, companies have pledged money to help at-risk parts of society. Lidl, for example, is investing £100,000 to help feed groups such as the elderly and families who need help during school closures. The John Lewis Partnership is putting £100,000 into its community support fund, while Diageo has pledged £1m to help the pub and bar industry hit by instructions to customers to stay at home.

Next looks to the long-term amid coronavirus outbreak

NextWhile many companies are working day-to-day as the coronavirus crisis rapidly evolves, there are companies still looking to the long-term.

Next sees the outbreak as a major risk and has modelled a scenario in which it could lost £1bn in sales this year. However, it wants to ensure that its long-term goals are not lost amid short-term reactions to the pandemic.

That means it will not be cutting investment in areas such as developing its online proposition, instead seeing some “breathing space” to accelerate certain developments. That includes offering third-party retailers access to its new ‘total platform’ initiative, which uses its investment in areas including warehousing, call centres and distribution networks.

“It is very important that we continue to move the business forward because at some point this coronavirus will pass,” Next’s chief executive Simon Wolfson told Marketing Week.

“Anything we can do during this period, where actually volumes and all the systems problems associated with high volumes online will disappear, gives us a bit of breathing space to accelerate some of the developments we were planning on doing.”

READ MORE: Next – Coronavirus will give us ‘breathing space’ to accelerate long-term growth

Marketers fear remote working will compromise their business

As fears escalate over the global coronavirus pandemic and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warns it will take at least 12 weeks to get on top of the outbreak, the reality of remote working is sinking in for marketers nationwide.

Concerns are mounting that remote working will have serious personal and professional consequences. More than half (62%) of UK marketers believe their organisation could be compromised by the need to work remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While 38% of marketers think remote working has been somewhat rare or rare until recently, 83% believe it will become somewhat or very common over the near to medium term, according to the exclusive survey of 887 UK brand marketers conducted by Marketing Week and its sister title Econsultancy.

Meanwhile, 92% of senior UK marketers (director level and above) say remote working is not suited to everyone, 68% believe creative collaboration will suffer if workers cannot share the same space and 37% are concerned that remote working is not well suited to junior staff.

There are also fears that pressures will mount from a personal perspective. Some 25% of all respondents say that remote working will inevitably intrude on their personal life and 68% are concerned they will work more hours from home than they would in the office.

Over half of UK marketers (54%) think most ways of working will go back to normal once the pandemic is under control, but there will be some changes, while just 32% think their working life will return entirely to the way it was once the pandemic is under control.

READ MORE: Marketers fear remote working will ‘compromise’ their brands during coronavirus crisis

Campaigns delayed and budgets paused as Covid-19 fears escalate

Marketers across the UK are pressing pause on major campaigns and spending decisions as fears escalate over the global coronavirus outbreak.

More than half of marketers (55%) are delaying campaigns or have put them under review, while 60% are reviewing their budget commitments and 55% have paused product or service launches, according to a survey of 887 UK brand marketers conducted by Marketing Week and Econsultancy.

More than a third of marketers (39%) say their company has already experienced lowered demand for its services, while more than half (61%) expect to see this lowering of demand continue over the next two quarters.

Marketers are delaying campaigns as they anticipate changes to customer behaviour as the pandemic continues to take its toll. Some 86% of respondents expect consumers will delay major spending decisions, while 74% expect business customers to delay spending decisions.

A further 68% of marketers are readying themselves for their business customers to pause any forthcoming product or service launches. Only time will tell whether pausing campaigns and delaying new product launches will pay off for brands in the long-run.

READ MORE: Majority of marketers delaying campaigns as coronavirus fears escalate

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