John Alderman: Regional Insights from UK & Europe
This month we hear from Kea World Class New Zealander John Alderman, Brand Specialist, NZTE Beachheads Advisor for Europe, (Ex-Kraft Heinz, Ex- Unilever), who provides his thoughts on the current market in the UK and Europe, and guidance for New Zealand Businesses.
Locked down but open for business
Being in lockdown doesn’t mean life stops. Sure the shops are shut & offices are closed but life goes on, commerce continues as consumers are still consuming and businesses still require services to operate.
This means NZ businesses shouldn’t discount the opportunities that exist in the UK & Europe. It does mean however that the approach and mindset needs to be different and a need to accept that the higher level of fluidity will disrupt plans and hence greater flexibility is required with multiple contingency plans lined up which in themselves will probably need to be adapted or morph in to hybrids thereof. The thinking and planning won’t be wasteful, it’s just that you’ll probably find different elements will come in to play at different times.
This insight is rooted in my own personal travel plans this year. Along with many cancellations there were many replans, eg, 2 trips to France become 1 longer trip to France & then became a longer trip to Italy. A trip to Italy was switched for a trip to Sweden that was planned for later in the year.
Kiwis are typically resourceful and flexible so will continue to prosper. The will and the way.
Don’t be freaked out by digital commerce – it’s just commerce done differently
It’s well documented that digital commerce has taken off. Hence to reach your customers, digital has become a necessary channel within which to be present. But don’t be afraid of it. The essential nature of business, the core challenges and what you do doesn’t change, its just that there has been a shift in how commerce is transacted and how you communicate.
Essentially customers and consumers are still motivated in similar ways but their buying mechanisms and media consumption has changed. Your PC or mobile device is now your TV so your communication plans and creative execution will need to change to fit the media.
As there always has been, there are expert service providers who can help you on this journey.
Think value not volume
There’s no doubt that disposable income is becoming very tight as businesses fail and unemployment increases. At the other end of the scale there are people who are prospering and so the disposable income continuum is becoming stretched and more polarised. There is a melting middle ground and predominantly middle class societies will shrink.
Whilst people are being more frugal and spendthrift there is evidence that they are looking for something more special than what they might have ordinarily bought, eg, where in the past they may have spent £6 on a bottle of wine and bought 2 bottles they might now spend £15 but only on 1 bottle. Or think Craft beer versus everyday bland lager. Consumption volume may be lower but value can be higher.
Simplicity is your saviour
With all the uncertainty, now is definitely the time to keep your business simple. Make sure your processes are simple and clearly defined, and that you have a tight, core hard working range. Every product in your range needs to be a driver not a drainer. Under-performance at any point within the business is less able to be absorbed so eliminate it.