“Together with our community, we will always strive to create less harm and more good in the world,” wrote CEO and founder of Glossier, Emily Weiss, in a letter last week (03/12/20) announcing that the brand would temporarily close its stores while her staff would be paid. This made the retailer one of the first to proactively put public health ahead of business objectives, demonstrating that they act upon their core value of devotion to their customers’ interests.
With the need for intense social distancing rapidly increasing and foot traffic sharply decreasing by -31% during the week of March 13, retailers outside the grocery and pharmacy industry, such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, have recently followed suit, putting further emphasis on their online channels.
However, should retailers not offering essential merchandise like groceries, household goods, and health products stop here? Are there other opportunities that go beyond the facilitation of social distancing? Major brands across industries have started to identify how they can add additional, crucial value to consumers during this time of crisis and are acting upon it:
- LVMH, the world’s largest luxury fashion conglomerate, announced Sunday (03/15/20) that they would convert their perfume factories to make hand sanitizers, helping to overcome the shortage Europe is experiencing. The products will be distributed free of charge to health authorities.
- Automaker Hyundai is reviving its Hyundai Assurance Job Loss Protection Program, which they first introduced in 2009 to help protect car owners who had lost their job. Ford has pursued a similar initiative by introducing its own car payment relief program, designed to help existing Ford vehicle owners as well as prospective ones.
- Facebook announced the launch of its Small Business Grant Program Tuesday (03/18/20), offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help small businesses that are struggling to survive.
- Hotels like the Best Western Great Britain are in discussions to offer their hotels across the UK as temporary hospitals to help the NHS rapidly expand its services if needed.
These companies are demonstrating how businesses can positively impact people’s lives during this time by identifying opportunities across their ecosystems and designing solutions that help alleviate fears and threats.
Across industries, we as organizations should not only react to the changes required by this pandemic, but allow ourselves to take a step back, assess the situation and identify how our companies can contribute to societies’ pressing needs – even if it means that commercial initiatives will take a back seat for now.
Contributed by: Heidi Allen, Senior Director, Experience Strategy, Integer Dallas