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Asia is the key for Global Companies Covid-19 rebound plans

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team member

Andrew Harrison

100 days that have changed the world!

It was on Thursday 23rd January – immediately before the Lunar new year break when millions of Chinese citizens embark on a week long holiday across that vast country to visit relatives – that Chinese officials announced the lockdown in Wuhan in response to increasing concerns about human to human infection of what was then called the coronavirus.

Fast forward 100 days and the world has shifted on its axis. Now there are over 3 million cases worldwide, every major developed economy in the world is in decline and governments everywhere are struggling to find the right balance between slowing the virus enough but not slowing down the economy too much.

Consumers across the world are changing behaviour – isolating at home, shopping alone, keeping social distance – and our clients are learning new ways of working: more agile, more digital – especially in new areas where Covid-19 has accelerated progress: e-commerce, digital, CRM, and social. Some business sectors are in crisis – airlines, hospitality, tourism; while others are booming – like gaming, content providers and food delivery companies.

Now, we are just beginning to see the first relaxations in Asia – the re-opening of factories in China, the end of the lockdown in Vietnam and the return of South Korean workers – and Asia is now widely predicted to be first and fastest out of the Covid-19 crisis. Certainly, key markets have handled the crisis well. Take the 4 Asian “tiger” economies – Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore:

HK Taiwan South Korea Singapore 4 “Tigers” UK
Cases 1,037 429 10,774 16,169 28,409 172,481
Deaths 4 6 248 15 273 26,771
Population 7.4M 23.8M 51.3M 5.8M 88.3M 67.9M
Deaths/M 0.54 0.25 4.83 2.58 3.09 394
(source: John Hopkins, Center for Systems, Science and Engineering 1/5/20)

These 4 tigers have a combined population of almost 90million people and yet have contained the virus with a concerted programme of test, track and trace to less than 300 deaths. It’s a sobering fact that deaths in the UK (expressed as a % of population) are 100 times higher – and yet those asian markets are next door to China and densely populated. Indeed, Vietnam – perhaps the country with most to gain from the bounce back post Co-Vid 19 – has recorded just 270 cases and zero deaths, despite sharing a northern border with China, after aggressive lockdown measures.

It’s sometimes hard for clients and mangers in the west to appreciate the scale of intervention to keep these countries moving forwards. Here in HK, for example, all new arrivals at the airport have a mandatory Co-Vid 19 test before going into 14 day quarantine (with a wristband tag and a GPS tracker) and then a follow-up second test on day 12 before release. It’s high touch but effective – with the latest figures now showing 5 consecutive days of zero cases in the special administrative region.

So, these are the markets that will bounce back first – where strong government intervention, disciplined citizens and connections into China mean these economies are ideally poised to re-bound fast.

Now is the time for companies to prepare quickly to capture the bounce back. As such it is vital for Global companies that the “rebound” in Asia is sure and solid. This means that the marketing teams must have excellent skills, and with an emphasis on those high leverage new areas where Covid-19 has accelerated already changing consumer habits: e-commerce, digital, CRM, and social.

Many leading companies are looking to accelerate the growth of skills and capabilities in these areas, but how do Asian and Global managers know if they have the right skills to optimise for the rebound?

Asia is very varied and requirements differ; based here in Hong Kong, we know that sometimes (perhaps due to local cultural reticence) it is difficult to get a good handle on what skills exist or gaps.

Flock offer the Flock Skills Assessment Tool this allows managers to create;

  • A profile of the skills that they need to win
  • An assessment of the skills they currently have, benchmarked against other world leading companies
  • A clear identification of the skills gaps; by market, division, brand, discipline/department and seniority
  • And, consultancy on the best way to close the gaps

Contact us here to get an on-line demonstration of the tool.