Dr. Lisa Wang Smart Digital
linkedinDr. Lisa Wang

The current coronavirus pandemic has become the major uncertainty in the global economy. SARS-CoV-2 has led to a disruption of normal economic activities. With production plants shutting down, people working from home, and social life coming to a stillstand, companies must face challenges for which they have not been prepared.

Like many other specialists, we at Smart Digital are urgently asked to support in this critical situation. Here are the main concerns of our customers:

  • Where are we in the crisis?
  • What is the specific situation in the countries and regions where we are operating? Is a comparison possible?
  • What can we expect in the near future?
  • When will the situation change again?
  • How can we best prepare our organization for every phase of this crisis?

In order to respond to this, we have developed a tool, addressing the following three key questions, which in our view are crucial in this context: Which are the phases of the crisis? When will a certain phase start? And what are tactics for managing the crisis?

1. Phases of the Crisis

We started analyzing public data from the Johns Hopkins University and many other sources for several countries in the world and identified 5 phases in the crisis:

Pre-Corona, Awareness, Strong Concern, Recovery and the New Normal. The phases reflect the situation a country is currently undergoing. As challenging as it might seem, there is a place for proactive actions and marketing in each of these phases when handled with sensitivity and authenticity

Graphic 1. Phases of the Corona Crisis (Source: Smart Digital Modelling. Data Source: Johns Hopkins University)

In the first phase (Pre-Corona), people are behaving as usual and are reacting quite robust in the light of the crisis ahead. First infections have been reported. In the second phase (Awareness), consumers start changing their social and consumption mood and behavior, initial declines in interest and purchases in certain branches are measured. This phase usually starts after first deaths are reported in a country.

In the third phase (Strong Concern), public life comes to a stillstand, businesses have to close down to avoid infections. Most countries around the world are currently in this phase. Some are already in the fourth phase (Recovery) and are preparing for the fifth and final phase (New Normal); such as South Korea and China and soon apparently also Austria and Denmark. Indicators for the recovery phase are several factors like the steepness of functions for new infections, death cases, the availability of ICU beds and many more. Those indicators have a strong influence on the overall mood, the consumption mood and therefore the economic backbone of a society.

2. Prediction – when will a certain phase start?

Based on the public data and indicators, we can predict the likelihood with which a particular country will enter into the recovery phase in the near future, helping our customers to prepare their business for upcoming normality. The model is updated every week.

Graphic 2. Data Driven Prediction of Recovery and New Normal-Phases

The example shows: In the country selected, the probability that the society will enter the recovery phase in the coming weeks is going up from “very low” in the next week to “medium” in CW 17. This is a clear indicator as of when consumption will rise and the clients have to be prepared for it. To make this prediction even more valuable for the clients, we build custom applications for them by integrating their own data like tracking-data (website traffic), lead- or sales-data. The correlation of these data with the phases help them understand the impact of the crisis on their individual business in the current situation, and to manage the crisis adequately.

3. Tactics for Managing the Crisis

The phases and the predictions build the fundament for business tactics we determine concurrently with our clients. We have built a planning grid to assign communication, promotion and other funnel tactics for every phase a country is currently in. The grid addresses the most relevant decisions to consider per stage and can be modified by industry and our clients’ needs.

Graphic 3. Tactics to navigate through Corona Crisis / Example

Our customers are regularly planning and updating their communications and tactical campaigns using the grid as a basis. It enables them to use the right mix out of upper funnel and lower funnel activities to find the right brand and communication mix in this unusual period. And most important, it helps them to be prepared for the time when the mood is turning and consumers are willing to consume and invest again.

As we are adding more and more data to the system, the tool allows us to better analyze the markets and determine more precisely the point in time when we can expect signs of recovery per country.

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Photo: NASA | Unsplash