These are challenging times for all of us. The world is under attack by the Coronavirus Covid-19. I’m not going to sugar-coat it, it’s serious. It’s long-lasting. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. And the financial woes we will all experience and endure will be monumental. But we’ve done this before with world wars, with the Bubonic Plague spread by fleas, killing 100+ million in Eurasia and Europe, during the 14th century, SARS, spread via respiratory droplets, killing 774, Swine Flu with 18,000+ deaths, and many others. But humanity has always prevailed.

As long as there are new cases of Covid-19 springing up daily, people will remain on the highest alert—to the point where they start to cocoon. Cocooning has been a typical practice by many when global outbreaks or terror-related incidents occur. Safety quickly becomes a top priority—for themselves and their loved ones.

In such a case, like the one we’re all living through now, establishments like restaurants and bars, hotels, air travel, gyms, sporting events, malls, among many more, take the brunt of it—some, to the point where they will no longer be able to weather the storm and will fold.

While most sectors are experiencing challenging times, the grocery sector, as razor-low as its margins are, see a surge in business because food is a necessity. And we’re seeing this now. So stockpiling occurs, based on fear and uncertainty, creating pandemonium. Others also experiencing sales spikes, as a result of government-ordered rules on retail, event and workplace closures, are e-commerce sites like Amazon and Walmart, home entertainment and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, as well as eat-in services like UberEats and Skip the Dishes. If lockdowns with widespread fear and uncertainty continue for lengthy periods, home improvement companies like Home Depot and Lowe’s will also see a spike in sales because “cocooners” will up-build their nests with increased self-efficiencies, to stay safe, and avoid going out, altogether.

Covid-19 is still in its incline, and it is affecting us all. Consumers aren’t taking any chances; they’re planning on staying put—anywhere from three months up to, yes, 3 years, depending on the cohort and where they’re from. But generally, that’s the sentiment. In this particular case, younger cohorts such as Gen Z and Gen Y, are less impacted, for some unknown medical reason, and therefore, do not feel symptoms like their older counterparts, especially the elderly, 70-plus, who are at highest risk of contracting the virus, and often, sadly, lose the battle. This is where we see the statistics on TV; it’s mostly the elderly. Education, and heeding government and healthcare professionals’ orders and recommendations are absolute key during this time. Not doing so has—not can—dire consequences.

Italy, so far the worst affected outside of China has a death toll in the thousands. One reason is because many younger cohorts have their grandparents living with them. As earlier mentioned, youngsters do not typically feel sick, so they go about their daily life as they normally do. BUT, unbeknownst to them, they are infected with the virus, and consequently, are infecting their elders, and more often than not, death is the result.

As well, Italy’s death rate at the time of writing, tallying 2,978, is also based on those with underlying health issues like diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Based on my sources and readings, it appears northern Italy’s delay to impose complete lockdown measures and containment, earlier, across its own epicentre, Lombardy, may be significantly contributing to their high death rate. Consequently, this has overwhelmed their healthcare system. As a result, Italy is now on track to surpass China in terms of fatalities. Italy has a small fraction of China’s population, whose death rate, so far, tallies approximately 3,000. Relatively speaking, this puts Italy a country mile ahead of China in terms of deaths. This is how serious the situation is, folks, and how seriously it must be taken.

Further, Italians—as all humans are by nature—are very social people. As such, some are still gathering with friends in piazzas, and unknowingly, spreading their infection, further exacerbating the situation. This, when the masses are trying so hard to avoid spreading it; and where the government is spending billions to help mitigate its effects, and ultimately eradicate the virus. Florida is experiencing the same thing for mostly the same reasons. Twenty-five percent of their population, like in Italy, who has the second-lowest birth rate in the world after Japan, is over the age of 65. Their beaches, right now, during March break, are filled, again, with younger kids. Such sites need to be closed off to ensure total containment. Any leaks in the system could have dire consequences in Florida—and well beyond, further spreading the virus.

To combat Covid-19’s effects, today and in the foreseeable future, governments are planning stimulus packages; private companies are discounting their services; those who can, are continuing to pay their staff, banks and governments are reducing interest rates, temporarily covering customers’ mortgage payments for six months; mobile service providers are removing data-overage ceilings, as well as offering free data, and the list goes on. And it needs to. Because we are all in this together: every person from every corner of the planet. So it behooves us to stick together—even if it means virtually, for now—to help overcome this invisible assault on humanity and come out whole on the other side.

Are—or were—businesses prepared for this, like a country would be, after dealing with similar-type situations like SARS and the Swine Flu, for example? Toronto, Canada, experienced the highest amount of deaths during SARS, including front-line workers falling victim to the respiratory-plaguing virus. But we learned a lot, since. And we have prepared ourselves for such events, to help us better and more successfully navigate them. If companies did not have the necessary contingency plans in place to prepare for this, they should have; it’s happening more often. Needless to say, lessons learned. So starting now, going forward—in perpetuity—they all need to. Because it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when it will happen again.

Frontline workers in medicine, transit, policing, retail, emergency, and many more, are working day and night—all fully committed to helping mitigate and hopefully halt this virus, while in so doing, risking their own lives and families. Respecting them and what they all do—for the greater good—the least the rest of us can do is respect what we are asked to do.

Everyone needs to heed the rules, keep abreast, understand the gravity—and the very high price of ignorance. Let’s stick together. Let’s do this together.

Stay safe. Live on.

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  1. Excellent insight into business and reporting, Nicholas. We marketers can see the stories that go beyond your words and the likely demand for smart marketing following this pandemic and the ones that will follow. Ethical marketing is the mantra that follows. Partnering with clients to help them survive and proper once more. Here is a link that adds dimension to your words.

    • Helping customers is at the core of what we do Grant I am amazed by the genuine response of a lot of Businesses to the current crisis.

  2. Grate article Nicholas, it is always easy for us marketers to stay within the boundaries of our comfort zones. Your article brings us to challenge this premise to reflect on the the role that humanity expects from us. How can we make the world a better place through marketing if we don’t look after each other?

  3. Thank you, Dr. Youssef and Grant, for your kind words, support and feedback. We all need to join together to counter this assault against us. And we will overcome this battle. Together.

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