First off, here’s my disclaimer: I am NOT a healthcare professional nor do I play one on IGTV. I am, however, surrounded by a plethora of super intelligent people who are and we talk about these and other healthcare concerns in detail. My role in these conversations is to provide the business and marketing responses coupled with my opinion to the latest cycle of grief we find ourselves attempting to live through: the Coronavirus.
Here’s a snapshot of the general response of average consumers to the virus since we (Americans) became largely aware of it:
- Coronavirus. It’s in China. No need for me to worry. Plus, I don’t even drink that beer — ha!ha! (Insert memes and articles from satire sites insulting millennials for being “dumb” and pouring out perfectly good beer.)
- Coronavirus. It’s spreading across Asia and into Europe. Still no need for me to panic, right?
- Coronavirus’ first cases hit the US. Should I be concerned? No, because it’s not in my state. We’re good.
- Coronavirus media coverage and government response explodes. The market responds by dropping.
- Consumers react by buying out all the masks, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.
Or, did we?
Businesses are in the business of making money and protecting their assets. If you think through what you know about how to protect yourself from the virus, it makes sense that masks and hand sanitizer may be flying off the shelves, but toilet paper? The big 3 toilet paper producers are Georgia-Pacific, Procter & Gamble, and Kimberly-Clark, with the latter two companies being publicly traded companies. An asset the CEO’s of these companies want to protect is their stock price. Are we consumers responding to the global pandemic by purchasing all the toilet paper or are companies and retailers manufacturing a supply and demand mismatch to help stabilize market uncertainty for these companies? Both have experienced losses in stock prices recently. I don’t know but it is definitely a question I asked myself because the reaction seems disproportionate.
I have also noticed the increase in TV and digital advertisements for companies that offer virtual solutions and emails encouraging consumers to “stock up” on cold, allergy, and flu medicines from retailers that carry them. It would not surprise me to learn that Netflix, Hulu, and other subscription based entertainment services increased their ad-spend during this time or that GrubHub, Postmates, and DoorDash have seen an uptick in ad-spend and business because people want to remain inside and avoid contact with others. Amazon will likely see large increases in sales for Prime memberships (I know — who doesn’t already have a Prime membership, but go with me here) because of on-demand entertainment and delivery of groceries and other items.
What are your thoughts? Does the coverage and response to the Coronavirus having you feeling any misery? Which companies do you think will see strong gains during this precarious time? Whose marketing are you noticing more and more and who do you think should market more now?