Once again, summer is quickly coming to an end, and consumer attention is turning to back-to-school. But with many local governments largely in flux on how to return to classes, consumers are unsure what they need for the coming school year. Do we simply need some new tops to make our Zoom videos look good, or will a full ensemble of clothes, masks, and school supplies be necessary?

What all of us have learned in the past five months is that predicting what’s coming next is extremely difficult and requires every one of us (consumers and corporations) to become more resilient and flexible. Congratulate yourself for finding the personal survival skills to make it this far—you may not know how you did it, but rest assured, you’re much more able to cope than you originally thought. These interpersonal skills will serve you well going forward—and they are also foundational for retailers and consumer goods companies as they navigate the coming months.

Many additional approaches that have been around for years will enable companies to cope with and eventually thrive in this unprecedented reality. Some of these methods are “tried and true” and have not been affected by the pandemic, while others have been accelerated into our everyday vernacular and near-term future thinking.

Nobody needs to be reminded of the tidal shift to omnichannel fulfillment capabilities—a true acceleration of capabilities that have now become table stakes. But underlying these is a fundamental premise: it’s vital that retail and consumer goods companies understand their customers.

Employing voice of the customer tools and approaches remains incredibly important. Being able to understand the needs of your customers requires a well-crafted customer engagement and marketing strategy but you must also leverage analytics. The application of analytics to determine what customers want and need is not revolutionary but marrying the customer’s engagement with brands—their proverbial “journey”—with analytical insights of product desires and fulfillment expectations is a tenet we all should be adopting.

The fact that “change is a constant” has been drilled into our heads for years. Today, change is happening at light speed and with greater frequency—and is pressing the need for new capabilities, approaches, and mindsets. Embrace these changes by preparing and positioning your teams for the turbulent ride ahead—but understand that you’re not alone in dealing with this constant evolution. Focus on building your team’s resilience with optimism about new possibilities—not dwelling on an eventuality that you did not predict and cannot control.

Trying to outsmart this virus is a fool’s errand; but knowledge that we are faced with perpetual change must become infused into your company’s DNA. And when the pandemic has been vanquished by a vaccine (soon, we all hope), this new DNA will be a capability that helps you and your company emerge as leaders when the next transformative event impacts your business.

If you’d like to have a conversation about how to better prepare for change or adapt an analytics-driven consumer approach, we’d be happy to chat. In the meantime, know that soon after back-to-school, it’s fast-forward to holiday and a new year. We are optimistic that 2021 will reveal a stronger future—and Parker Avery is here to work through it with you.

Wishing you the best,
Robert Kaufman
CEO, The Parker Avery Group