This blog post has been contributed by John Lawrence, VP Global Consulting, SGK.
The COVID-19 outbreak has created a significant shift in consumer behaviour that will impact CPGs, health organisations, and retailers in the coming months. Consumers have stockpiled what they believe to be necessities whilst considerably reducing consumption of what they see as nonessential items.
The fragility of forecasting demand and by extension capacity planning to manage peaks and troughs that are out of cycle with annual trends have already become a focus for brand managers and marketing content agencies globally.
As we move out of activating business continuity plans and strengthening our marketing resiliency through collaboration capabilities, it is incumbent on all organisations to fall back into “business as usual” to manage future capacity as soon as possible.
Brands shouldn’t wait for issues to develop or the market to point in a clear direction before making plans and taking action. Instead, follow a forecasting action plan and behaviours that define scenarios, monitor customers, and plan for marketing content volume adjustments.
How is your long-term forecasting strategy changing in the current environment? Are you prepared for unconventional consumer demand and the potential for peaks that may come at a later stage as new product innovations and promotions are reprioritized?
And most importantly, what must we do today to support the uncertainty?
Ultimately, the creation of marketing content follows the principles of any manufacturing or production process. Every process we have is a result of another process—we are part of a chain. With increased visibility comes the ability to support and manage requirements whether through scaling or managed intake and delivery processes wherever you may operate in that chain.
Closed offices, closed studios, disrupted supply chains, greater demands through adapted working environments are the real-life experiences of marketing agency teams globally today. This is likely to be a reality for the next 3 to 6 months as mandated country restrictions are tightened in some areas and relaxed in others.
Agencies that have implemented these new ways of working will remain ready to adapt further and share capacity across regions as the situation changes. On a personal and team note, we are thankful to our own SGK leadership and operational teams for making such an amazing transition ourselves.
CPGs, health organisations, and retailers are playing a critical role in supporting their consumers and society as a whole through this pandemic. Managing marketing ecosystems and content paths are a tactical must in achieving those objectives, connecting your brand benefits and values to your consumers when they need it most. Brand marketing and agency teams sit centre stage in how customers perceive your brand during this critical time. This swiftly evolving situation requires transparency and shared solutions.
As Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever has said:
“While it is difficult for even the most ardent optimist to stay positive, there are some signs that we are beginning to mobilize at the speed and scale to lift ourselves out of this crisis as quickly as possible.”
The pace of recovery from COVID-19—and, consequently, the patterns in consumer demand—will vary across countries and categories. However, as Alan Jope highlights, we are mobilized and lifting ourselves out of this crisis.
Whether a peak that pushes requirement beyond capacity or a trough at the most unexpected time, it is clear that forecasting and capacity management will be critical to successful relaunch activity and marketing operational delivery moving forward.
About John Lawrence: John brings 17+ years of experience in brand marketing--both agency and brand side. Operating as a consultant for global, regional and national organizations, he provides Continuous Improvement (CI) projects from consultancy through to implementation across channels. As a member of the SGK Consulting Team, John has strategically led initiatives for some of the world’s most prominent brand owners to increase their speed-to-market, reduce costs in the marketing supply chain and better utilize their internal and external resources.