As consumers everywhere are faced with product shortages, what is considered disposable and what can be re-used has changed amid the outbreak of the Coronavirus. And you can color businesses and consumers Covid-green, from these supply chain disruptions.
What Isn’t Readily Available & Rethinking Consumables
When the year 2020 is reflected on, the shortage of toilet paper, canned goods and hand sanitizer will come to mind. This calculator would’ve been handy for the hoarders:
Items like Ziploc bags are being re-used now more than ever to avoid unnecessary trips to the store. Eggs are high on the list of demands, as people stress bake while quarantined at home. However, while a hen will lay an egg a day, making this shortage much less of a concern, the same cannot be said for medical supplies.
Being short one mask-laying hen, the U.S. is coming up empty handed. China, once our big supplier for medicine, masks and gloves, is now the broken link in our supply chain. The consequences are felt all the way down to our hospitals. Our health is threatened to the point of collapse, or as Farhad Manjoo of the NY Times so eloquently put it: “For want of a 75-cent face mask, the kingdom was lost.”
The upside of this shortage is that it has united people from around the country to think of a solution: Hand Sewn masks.
The deficit in medical masks caused Duke Health in Durham and Raleigh to get creative and find solutions of their own. They have found a way to decontaminate N9 masks by using aerosolized hydrogen peroxide. The gas pervades the masks to destroy germs and viruses, without damaging the material, allowing them to reuse.
But it’s not just the medical industry or consumers who are being forced to go green in their efforts to reduce and re-use. Brands and companies are having to restrategize in order to keep their place in consumers’ minds.
Brands Go Big Instead of Going Home
Codiv-19 is a big wake-up call for companies not paying attention to their social analytics. Savvy brands, on the other hand, are using consumer and market research and adapting their responses to offer needed items. Doubling efforts to thrive during this time, brands are getting creative.
Microsoft has stepped up to the plate, spending 4 million to acquire additional medical supplies from overseas, which included, 240,000 desperately needed N-95 surgical masks, 15,000 eye protection goggles, 850 medical caps, 850 protective suits and 120 infrared thermometers.
Mukilteo, a furniture maker, is also enhancing their brand awareness by converting their factory into a mask making machine, donating its efforts to hospitals in need. A part of the Million Mask Challenge, this furniture maker is showing that it cares for its community and recognizes the need to stay present in consumers’ minds.
Other contributors to the “war on Codiv19” effort is Louis Vuitton, a fashion leader in innovative thinking and using competitive intelligence. LV made and then donated 12 tons of hand sanitizer to a hospital in Paris. Fans and consumers were the first to take to social media, praising this valiant response to our current crisis.
Other community caring companies such as Target and Kroger are giving out bonuses and raising pay as a way to thank their employees for being part of the “first responders”.
Brands and companies are proving they can adapt and reinvent as needed. And at the peak of the “reuse/reinvent” pyramid is, of course, renewable energy. Has this crisis helped or hurt this effort?
Is This Good or Bad News for Renewable Energy?
Keeping everyone safe and healthy is the prime focus right now, but as this pandemic continues, the conversation is slowly shifting towards the economic effect on renewable energy efforts. With America’s heavy reliance on fossil fuel, and our current situation with coronavirus, should governments look to renewable energy to help reduce risks? It’s just not that simple.
The oil price crash on both oil majors and governments could be damaging for renewable energy. If governments and oil majors are forced to cut back somewhere, it is likely that renewable investments and subsidies could be among the first to get the axe. You can see the worried conversation happening around this crucial subject in the visual data below.
Low oil prices aren’t a good sign for renewable energy on several fronts, but mainly because low oil prices = low gas prices, which makes electric cars and biofuel less attractive. As a result, some oil companies could shift attention to natural gas production, making solar and wind as sources of electricity, less economical.
Solar power has seen a recent slowdown due to the halt in the people that make it happen and pay for it. Job loss for thousands of employees, plus a possible loss of investment by big oil companies brings things to a standstill. To put it in perspective, in 2018, the world’s top 24 oil companies invested $3.4 billion in low carbon energy technology. That’s a lot of investment to lose. It’s a trickle-down effect, low oil prices = low investment in solar energy. It’s clearly a concern as shown in this market research.
It’s not all bad news though. Jenny Chase, Bloomberg NEF’s lead solar analyst has seen a stall in solar productivity before. “People think it’s the end of the world, but people still need clean energy, they still need electricity,” she said. “Energy is still cheap. It still works. I think people will go back to work and build again.” Things take time, likely we will see the impact in 2020 and into 2021.
Another glimmer of hope comes wrapped in a coronavirus stimulus package. Recently, five renewable energy groups and an energy storage trade association, joined forces and sent a letter to House and Senate leaders calling for “prompt repair and extension of critically important tax incentives to help the clean energy sector surmount the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Though it isn’t looking promising, this would help get the fight for renewable energy back on its feet, not to mention the thousands of renewable energy employees affected.
So, will renewable energy be hurt or helped? The jury is still out on that one, however you can keep your brand ahead of these trends and more, and know what’s headed your way with consumer and market intelligence informing your next move. Keep a financially creative cap on during these challenging times, by reaching out for a demo!