Foreseeing the recovery
So what will it take for not just the experience economy, but all sectors of the global economy to come back? From my understanding, recovery first requires a diminishing of infections to slow down the spread of Coronavirus. Second, we need workable treatments so that more and more of the infected can recover. And third, we need herd immunity to prevent a further outbreak, most likely in tandem with a vaccine.
Because all enterprises depend on a physical presence, they need to understand that many effects of the current crisis will not just linger, but fundamentally change customer behavior.
There are many consumers who never ordered anything online – for takeaway or for collection – who now do so regularly. Many who once thought that zoom was only a technical word for a camera function, now use Zoom for coffee catchups. Businesses discovered that, yes, they can accomplish much without physically travel to a far-flung location. And many workers realized that working from home can work quite well.
Many industries will undergo important makeovers. A significant percentage of the shift to online ordering, and in particular takeout meals and contactless delivery, will remain. Telephone diagnoses will become a normal way to interact with nurses and doctors. Remote schooling will become far more acceptable, and accessible, particularly in higher education. Queue-less waiting will become prevalent at theme parks and other such experiences that often involve waiting in lines.
What's happening is that the future is sliding into the present. Think about physical retail. I wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review a few years ago wherein I looked at the shift from physical to digital shopping. To make the case that retailers should be not just merchandisers but experience stagers, I noted: “While the US Census Bureau puts e-commerce's share of the US retail market at less than 10% as of the first quarter of 2017, online sales are growing at almost 10% per year. Should that trend continue – and it appears to be accelerating slightly – online retailing will account for nearly 20% of the total in 2025, over 30% in 2030, and about 50% in 2035."
Well, guess what – that trend just accelerated immensely! Amazon is reportedly operating at Christmas levels. But although much of in-store retailing will bounce back, some of it never will. That 2035 date for a 50/50 split just slid much closer to the present as online buying becomes more evenly distributed throughout the population.