So we’ve survived three weeks of the lockdown. And as we hope to flatten the curve, come out of the lockdown and eventually (hopefully soon) develop a vaccine, one can safely say that the world that emerges from this crisis will not be the same.
The following are a few of the changes I think we will get to see in that new reality. Am sure there will be more too and all of these will be greatly affected by the length and intensity of our response to the pandemic.
In no particular order then, here goes:
- Health and wellness everything in the urban markets. Immunity and protection will be the magic pills. But credibility will be key. Healthier lifestyle-related and wellness-related products/services will boom.
- Natural and less processed will see increased acceptance. As will slow fashion and responsible (possibly reduced) consumerism. I also expect vegetarianism and veganism will see a rise.
- Cleanliness, hygiene and a greater sense for the environment by individuals. The same will also be expected of corporates. Indeed, corporates will even be judged for their attitude toward the environment.
- The lockdown has been an artificial shot in the arm for local Kirana stores to stay relevant. It is an opportunity that needs some effort and innovation to exploit.
- Remote working and consultations will become a comfortably acceptable part of our lives.
- E-everything — commerce engines will boom. Direct to consumer will become the holy grail.
- Big spike in e-payments, but good old cash will get dearer too. E-payments for safety and convenience. Cash and gold for a sense of security.
- Retail investors will first seek to fulfil personal security needs before looking at the investment market. Although, I also believe there is enough money in the system for people wanting to capitalise on the eventual market bounce back.
- Opportunity for life and medical insurance. But needs empathy and product innovation. Because people will be more wary for the next few years at least. A second wave (hopefully not) will only heighten this anxiety.
- A rise in ultra-nationalism and nationalist consumerism. Greater focus on the origin of products. Travel, tourism and hospitality could take great advantage of this in the midterm. As can manufacturing, as the world will look at an alternative option to China.
- A rise in income disparity and possible civil unrest in some geographies. The scale of impact on the have-nots can only begin to be fathomed in the aftermath of the pandemic and lockdown. My hope is that the negative impact is minimised with all the news of the good efforts by Govt, NGOs, individuals, but my guess is, it still won’t be pretty.
- Frontline workers and thereby, skills, will get greater respect and better compensation.
- For the SMEs that survive, fund access (first) and fund reserves (later) will gain huge importance. This is the segment that will probably need a significant push from the government, in terms of stimulus and policy interventions.
- Rise of local heroes and leaders, with limited geographic but tremendous depth of influence within that geography. True of politics, institutions and individuals.
- Doctors will join the ranks of the farmers and the armed forces as national heroes. Hopefully, public memory will ensure they remain there.
- The value of relationships will get stronger. In family and beyond. There might also be the unravelling of some relationships due to the lockdown, but that will be a temporary phenomenon.
- Greater compassion as a society. There are such wonderful stories of love and compassion that we hear of every day, during this period of crisis. I am sincerely hoping that this is not just a temporary phenomenon, but a shift towards us being a better people