As the curve flattens, it’s time to think about growth

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“Are we going back to old normal or new normal will persist?

It takes an average of 66 days for a behavior to change, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. It’s roughly 6 months since the COVID outbreak in Kenya. So in some ways, we may continue ordering our food online but may abandon zoom for physical meetings. Who knows. We shall find out soon enough.

I write this article in the hope that you, as a business person or brand custodian, you have survived the worst or are weathering the storm, and are excited about the news that Kenya’s COVID-19 curve is flattening.

The next big question is how to rise out of this current situation and emerge as a category/industry leader. I have a few musings to nudge in that direction.

“Firstly, acknowledge the cheese may have moved

Rule of thumb, don’t waste your time and energy hoping the old cheese will return, set out in search of new cheese as quickly as you can. Things change, and those that adapt quickly, not only survive but they thrive. For the first time, Nike told us, Just Don’t Do It. Back home, Safaricom understands our pockets are shallower, so you can now pay Ksh 20/$0.19 per month to own a smartphone. Shell told us we can refuel and pick up goods bought online. And as the mighty Intercontinental Hotel shut its doors, the Chester Hotel across the street ran a campaign telling us they have space for those that need to think.

Chester hotels and suites

Chester hotels and suites ad on social media

At AXIS, we partnered with the Standard Group to have the e-paper easily accessible via a WhatsApp Bot. Thousands of Kenyans are now accessing the bot to pay and read the digital paper, thus opening a new revenue stream for the client.

Through the pandemic, the value of being a customer-centric brand has never been more important. The only way to stand out during this period, it is by being completely aware of the new consumer habits, needs, fears, and aspirations.

“Secondly, discover or create your blue ocean

If you haven’t read the Blue Ocean Strategy book, this is a great time to. And if you have read it, it’s never a bad day to re-read it.

Blue ocean strategy is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open up a new market space and create new demand.

Most of us operate in the red ocean. Competition is literally cut-throat, often we are waging a price war and as a result, hemorrhaging money. COVID-19 presents an opportunity to rethink that and with changing consumer habits, then develop new revenue streams.

To create a blue ocean strategy, the following four action framework is recommended:

  • Raise: This questions which factors must be raised within an industry in terms of product, pricing or service standards. For instance, Glovo launched in early 2019 and offered quick delivery within 45 mins and a moneyback guarantee. This way they shook up a competitive space quite quickly.
  • Eliminate: This questions which areas of a company or industry could be completely eliminated to reduce costs and to create an entirely new market. I recently tweeted that bar owners should stop whining, and turn those establishments into wines and spirits stores offering home delivery services, with the workforce supporting logistics and operations. A complete shift often requires a lot of courage, and bold leadership.
  • Reduce: This questions which areas of a company’s product or service are not entirely necessary but play a significant role in your industry, for example, can I migrate my eCommerce platform to Shopify as opposed to custom developing the same? This offers you the same capabilities but at a different price point. Or use AXIS to centrally manage business communications and payments across multiple channels and reduce friction and frustration when interacting and transacting with my customers?
  • Create: This prompts companies to be innovative with their products. By creating an entirely new product or service, a company can create its own market through differentiation from the competition. Porsche allows US customers to pay a subscription fee and then drive any of the Porsche cars. @Inchcape @DTDobie, are you reading this? 😉

Go beyond competing and seize new growth opportunities through value innovation, that’s what the blue ocean strategy is all about. Instead of focusing on beating the competition, you focus on making the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for buyers and your company, thereby opening up new and uncontested market space.

In summary, the cheese might have moved and it’s time for a blue ocean shift.

Should you desire a hand to walk with you down that path, you can reach out to us fred[at]belvadigital.com for a free consultation


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