Moment of discovery

Redwood Comment
Published:  29 April, 2020
Dr Mike Redwood

This is the moment when companies really discover whether they have true marketers or only communications staff in their team, as now it is the fundamental tools of marketing that are needed. 

If you only have a “colouring-in” approach to marketing, where it focuses on basic communications, trade fairs and the like, you have a problem. Certainly, your communications will change for the post-Corona world, but do not rush to press until you have planned your forward intentions after profound study of the implications of these treacherous times.

As the factories that have restarted in China have already found, we are returning to an environment where much will remain closed or slow for some time yet. Even in the restart, much will be changed. From the start to the end of our process, every single element needs examination.

No company in the leather industry lives in isolation. Successfully making decisions in isolation is impossible: all organisations exist in complex business networks that constantly evolve. Stand still and your position will move over time, to your disadvantage if you are not watchful. Move thoughtlessly, and others will react and catch you out. External events, such as currency changes, supply interruptions, new legislation or a pandemic should not be viewed solely as an impact on your business but looked at in terms of how they impact the whole network and then cascade through to your own company.

We need every strategic marketing tool
So today we need every strategic marketing tool to help us assess this rather uncertain new future, and to analyse how others in the network might react. This is a crisis where some actors will not survive, and likely create dramatic changes in relationships throughout the network.

We keep hearing about this crisis being unusual as it is impacting the supply and the demand side at the same time. This is quite true and impacts what we can make, the price we can make it and how we sell it. Nike has re-opened stores in China and volumes are steadily returning, but the company has acknowledged that the digital aspects of consumer activities will remain much more significant.

Sustainability and better customer service were already driving supply chain restructuring, but now, for many resilience will be the lead driver. This demands more diverse and shorter chains, with possibly different set ups for different markets – the shift of the centre of gravity towards Asia will not change.

The livestock industry has an additional battle to fight because this is another virus transferred from animals being sold for food: and it has not helped itself with meat plants being closed in the USA after outbreaks of Coronavirus amongst the workforce. See @pamelasztybel whose influential daily postings on Instagram include at least two on the meat and livestock trade.

All the way through the chain, strategic analysis is essential – should you go into product manufacture to better utilise the lower end and stop the commodity element? Should you be in the collagen business? Should you be working with some of the bio-based materials where tanners technology can help achieve big improvements instead of calling them out as unfair competition? Should you buy a struggling competitor, customer, supplier? This is the moment when these bigger questions need facing.

The network approach makes sense of this, as it helps decide the need and timing for action, the skills and technologies that will be required and where they might be obtained. And the network approach is one of the founding pillars of the new marketing approach of Service Dominant Logic, which helps not only selling in the business to business world, but also the consumer one.

And given a return to unemployment, older people afraid to leave home, air transport viewed as risky behaviour, fashion shows going online, selling transferred from the High Street to the smartphone, plus the delivery vehicle, society buying fewer clothes with less interest in seasonal garments, the post Corona consumer world is a major study on its own.

Roll out your best marketers and strategic thinkers: fast

Mike Redwood
April 29, 2020

mike@internationalleathermaker.com

Follow Dr Mike Redwood on twitter: @michaelredwood

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