Coronavirus: Data Science, Industry Fear & Marketing Impacts

FACT-CHECKING AND A FRESH OPINION

By: Kyle Minerley

Coronavirus is a pandemic, and it’s here. While your Facebook friends’ recent posts might have you believe that the end is near, we as fact-based, strategic thinkers want to look at the situation and the data to support the facts. With so much public speculation, it’s important to stick to what we know now.

When our data scientists crunched the numbers, the results are different from what many clickbait headlines seem to say- high recovery rates, low mortality, with only a small percent of the population being affected. As of yesterday, 0.00006% of Connecticut is infected. Seattle and Washington State: 0.00114%. It is important to call out a sobering fact and the main keyword in our opening statement: this is what we know now. With the victims rising in numbers by the day, we want to cut through the noise of social media armchair doctors and focus on what the data tells us, what we can do to mitigate the impact and understand the effects this virus could and likely will have on business at large.

Our hearts go out to those affected by COVID-19 and their families, in the U.S. and beyond. We see the impact this has had on the world from those affected by countrywide quarantines, all the way to the American stock market. Taking preventative measures to help curb spread is a responsibility of all the world’s citizens as we watch the cases of COVID-19 grow each day. 

The CDC has come out with a helpful guide of preventative measures, and we encourage all to familiarize yourselves with that here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

As an organization that works with a variety of different businesses in many different verticals, Rebel is analyzing rather than speculating about the impact this virus is having on our economy in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Looking at past viral outbreaks specifically, Dow Jones Market data shows that “historically…Wall Street’s reaction to such epidemics and fast-moving diseases is often short-lived.” Beyond Wall Street, does this affect American people and businesses? Let’s analyze the impact COVID-19 has had on household items

Initial panic over quarantine essentially began with individuals buying out hand sanitizers, as well as toilet paper (with fear that if you’re locked up for weeks or months at home, you’re going to need toilet paper). A similar phenomenon can be seen during major snowstorms in New England, even when the forecast isn’t dire. People naturally want to be prepared, but this impacts supermarkets in the region deeply. 

How does this impact businesses that are not brick-and-mortar and that exist only online? An area of worry portrayed in the news has been concerning the purchase of Chinese products online, most notably from Amazon. The CDC has already made clear that should Covid-19 be similar to SARS-CoV / MERS-CoV, the virus will have a tough time surviving on surfaces. But because of the widespread worry that has been top of mind for many online shoppers, it’s had a real impact on the market.

We have also seen the decision that many larger tech companies have already made – including Amazon, Google, and even recently Consumer Reports — allowing employees to work from home. We speculate this is something that has been long coming to our economy but the sudden change has had an immediate impact on transportation, local city economies, and small businesses. The sudden drop in foot traffic can mean businesses will struggle to keep their lights on by the end of the month.

How has this been affecting the marketing industry? Working with multiple companies from SMBs to Fortune 500, and across various verticals, Rebel has seen a few clients start pausing advertising efforts but also has seen others who have ramped up their marketing efforts to provide guidance and reassurance to the clients. 

For instance, we were impressed by Southwest Airlines’ speed to market with the content marketing they have been leveraging, using this time to educate potential and current customers about how diligent they are in their cleaning process. In fact, our CEO received an email this morning detailing the process. As an avid traveler, he paid attention, as it was a well-timed outbound marketing touch that answered questions before they were asked. Talk about strong brand awareness. 

An airline might seem a little too on-the-nose as an example of this, so we wanted to explore how this could potentially be a tactic to take for different kinds of businesses. Here are some ideas off the top of our collective head:

  • A restaurant? Perfect timing to talk about compliance with health standards and origination of ingredients.
  • A machine shop? Consider talking about American-sourced parts.
  • Health insurance company? Consider putting out content regarding preventative methods.
  • Higher education? An opportunity to address parent concerns about how the University’s approach is top of mind.

Regardless of the vertical, there’s an opportunity to pause and think about what would be most valuable to your potential U.S.-based customers. Your company has an opportunity to be a part of the voices trying to help Americans, from driving awareness to the masses to helping companies stay afloat, at large.

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