2020: The Lost Year

COVID-19 has accelerated what was starting off to be a shaky start to the new year with trade conflicts leading to fuel wars, as one example. Our “new normal” means social distancing, washing our hands more in one week than we did through all of 2019, working remotely, worried about whether it’s safe to buy groceries… the new reality is impacting all facets of our lives. With no end to the pandemic on the horizon and a growing fear of second and even third waves, not surprisingly we are all stressed and anxious.

As I look at many of the goals we set for ourselves at the start of 2020, from financial to recognition programs to travel and even to simple purchases, I believe 2020 will be known as the ‘LOST YEAR’—a year where the progress from the past ten years is wiped out. We do not need to look further than the stock market and many of the emergency financial levers being used to maintain balance. The question for companies who have built loyalty programs, such as airlines, is whether to reset frequent flyers’ status to 2019 or leave everyone to the current (non-existent) flight status. 

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Will all of the money leaving the stock market into safer havens return, or are we looking back to the 2008 and 2009 as our new normal? Will we shop and eat differently forever, having been left with a behavioral imprint not dissimilar to the great wars, mass migration or digital disruption? Some may argue we will make up our losses in the last quarter, while others are facing the cold reality; this is not a hiatus but a shift towards a new reality. Check with first before making a huge investment.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as companies embrace change by rethinking their business models, ways of creating value while growing revenue and build stronger relationships with customers. The term “nimble” and “agile” will have an entirely new meaning about being to respond quickly to market shifts. As such, like many, we are grappling on how to remain relevant. To answer this question, we are in the process of conducting consumer and industry research to understand the value of new strategies and tactics for living in this new reality. We left our wishful thinking when 2020 ushered in with the pandemic. The winners will be those companies that see the opportunity in the new challenge.

To gain more insights on how brands can cope with COVID-19 and its aftermath, explore our full COVID-19 Toolkit here.