Straight Talk With Nick (April 2020 edition)

Each month, I write about things that are on my mind. Instead of analyzing how technology will impact the media and entertainment industry in my The Three. Le Trois. El Tres weekly email edition. Or from my Twitter account @nickhtang.

This month? I will help you determine the winners and losers from this COVID-19 pandemic.

Love you all.

Winners

Grocery and pharmacy stores: you need to eat and get your medication (this also includes sub-sectors like pure pharmaceutical and food companies; supply chain software companies that supply the above, farmers, toilet paper companies, food wholesalers. Includes companies like Walmart and Costco. The only thing they need to do? Upgrade their online grocery delivery services (it shouldn’t take 4 days to schedule a delivery or pickup. Start re-directing your staff to focus on online deliveries/pickups)

Utilities: you need electricity and water. It also includes the sub-sectors that support them (supply chain software companies, pipes, electrical wires)

Robots: especially in a health care setting, you can use them to check in on your patients. While the doctor or nurse is sitting at a station (that way, they won’t catch COVID-19 or any other disease).

Banking: you need this to pay your bills, deposit your cheques etc.

Media and entertainment (excludes movie theatres but includes telecommunications and cable (pipes)). Everyone is watching their local newscast/reading a printed copy of their newspaper to stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 situation. Ditto for streamers such as Netflix etc. I include telecommunications and cable companies in this category because they offer the pipes to deliver your Internet and streaming content (plus everyone is slowly realizing that they need a landline as sometimes they’re cellular network becomes slower as people stream online).

Online fitness companies like Peloton or apps: you have to get your fitness fix from somewhere. The best companies like Peloton realize that people want to exercise on their time, not the gym’s time.

Teleworking (includes online conference tools and webinars. Includes telehealth): as your managers/doctors have found out, this works.

Niche retailers who have a strong name brand, retail outlet and online presence (who have lots of cash to pay their employees and store rents. That’s the key to survival. Having lots of $$$): Lululemon, Apple come to my mind.

Online teaching (from elementary school to college/universities): expect a lot of changes when this is over. As college and university students get used to online learning, one of the questions they’ll ask is this “why am I paying $$ to go to a physical building to take a course when I get the same education doing this online?” At the elementary-high school level? Expect parents to ask their teachers and principals why they’re not flipping their teaching model (90% online learning, 10% for the rest. Instead of 90% in class learning and 10% online learning). If you’re a teacher/professor who can create excellent online courses, I can guarantee that you’ll be in demand (it’s not all about how many academic papers you can write in a year to get tenure. It’s about keeping your students engaged. If you need to borrow some ideas on how to do this, borrow from Lululemon. Look at the way their ambassadors teach their online exercise courses).

Manufacturers (especially health care ones). Enough said. I will include milling companies (that’s why you’re baking a lot of bread right now).

Nature: notice how quiet it is outside? That the air is crisp and clean? That the only sounds you hear right now are the birds singing? And the sun is shining? Then go outside. And practice physical distancing (2m or 6ft) if you decide to go on a walk or run.

Technology companies anything that deals with infrastructure (routers), cybersecurity, social media monitoring (includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktoc cause you need to keep your fans happy while announcing new products) and the biggest one of all: Amazon (you’re ordering a lot from them right now).

Losers 

Advertising and movie theaters: adverts are the first to be cut during a recession or pandemic. Ditto for movie theaters (you can’t make money if your state or local government has told you that you’re a none essential service).

Rest of the retail world: department and clothing stores like the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, JC Penny, the Bay, Eddie Bauer etc (no niche. Or they’ve lost their niche. Not enough cash on hand, no strong online presence. That’s why they laid off their staff). Ditto for stores that rely on a heavy, local retail and walk in presence.

Travel industry: hotels, airlines, events like Cannes Film Festival etc (includes sub-sectors that specialize in this). It will take a very long time for these sectors to get back to normal. For the airline sector, I can see a shift from passenger to more cargo. For hotel industry and travel industry, you need to offer a lot of discounts before everyone starts to travel again (because a lot of people have been laid off). And you need to offer some sort of guarantee that you’re doing an excellent job of deep cleaning the hotel/plane (to ensure a healthy environment).

If you work at HQ, I can guarantee you that every job is being examined. And your bosses are wondering whether or not they need you after this crisis is over.

Gyms, fitness instructors and personal trainers: it’s your fault that you didn’t pivot faster to the online world by using Facebook/Instagram Live etc to teach a class or create an PDF of your best fitness routines. If you’re a fitness instructor (you should be reaching out to your class to motivate them (I teach an unofficial tabata class at my gym (I’m not paid to do this. I did it to keep everyone motivated. And to add to my talent stack). And I’ve been emailing them a daily workout to all the participants for the past three weeks (that’s the best way to do this. Email. Cause everyone reads their email. Relying only on your FB or Instagram posts? Good luck). If you’re not, do you really think they’ll go back to you when this is over (the answer? No. Cause you’ve already demonstrated that you don’t care about them).

If you’re a personal trainer, you should be in constant contact with your current or past client(s) right now to see how they’re doing (a shout out to Coach Rachel who’s been checking in with me every Saturday to suggest new workouts for me to do. Hire her. You won’t regret it).

Public transit: barely anyone is taking the bus

Restaurants: you should have pivoted to online deliveries and take out years ago. Instead of relying on walk in traffic to generate sales (I can see them flipping their business model – instead of 90% sit in, 10% takeout and online deliveries, it’ll be 90% online deliveries and takeout, 10% sit in. Expect a lot of them to shrink their restaurants). And no, you don’t need to use Ubereats or Skipthedishes. Hire you own delivery people. Expect a lot of changes as people continue to cook healthy foods at home.

Any workplace/school/college/university that needs a building: a lot of managers are realizing that telework is working. Ditto for online learning. The next question they’ll ask? Is there a need for all these expensive buildings? Can we keep the main HQ building and sell off the rest? Why do we even need a building?

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