The World After COVID-19: Economic Reliance on Digital Use
Entering the third quarter of 2020 and in the middle of transition period from large-scale social restrictions to new normal, Indonesian economic growth is at the stage of recovery. According to data collected by McKinsey, Indonesia places the third after China and India as the most optimistic country in recovering their economy affected by COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an anomaly towards different kinds of sectors. One that has been gaining more advantage is the technology service providers. The report from Bain&Company and Facebook showed that at least 44 percent of the digital consumers in ASEAN spent more time online in finding food products amidst the pandemic.
E-commerce has also been showing some significant improvement during the pandemic. The Indonesian Central Bureau of Statistics recorded a high online purchase during the pandemic. In April 2020, the highest record was set by food and beverage purchase that increased by 1070% from January 2020. The Governor of Bank of Indonesia, Perry Warjiyo, stated that the transaction through e-commerce has been increased by 26 percent, daily transaction increased to 3.1 million, and new customers raised by 51 percent, and the overall demand strengthened by 5-10 times (24/6). This showed just how much the customers using online platforms to fulfill their daily needs both in national and global scales.
Apart from e-commerce, the digital presence has been pushing the streaming service forward. The communication platform becomes the alternative answer of the delayed in-person meetings. Service providers such as Netflix for example, gained 16 million new subscribers worldwide within the first 3 months of 2020. Similar to this, GoPlay, a streaming provider from Indonesia also stated that the number of visits to the platform has rocketed by ten times in comparison to the time before the pandemic. The gaming industry has also been gaining some profits. According to Indonesian Game Association, the traffic of online gaming in Indonesia has been showing significant improvement by 10-12%. Furthermore, the virtual meeting and teleconference providers such as Zoom, Microsoft and Google Meet have become more and more popular.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been pushing the digital transformation forward. It is also found that more companies and institutions preferred interaction via screen to in-person.
Take Facebook as example. This one giant technological company in the world, introduced a new cutting-edge innovation by launching a feature called Facebook Shops, a service aimed to help merchants especially middle lower scale to display and sell their products on Facebook. This online shop platform has ‘checkout’ feature that enables purchase through app and will later on be integrated with Instagram and WhatsApp. One of the most awaited innovation is live shopping where customers can make purchase while live streaming. Zuckerberg claimed that there were more than 800 million people involved in this video streaming every day both on Facebook and Instagram.
This feature is not yet available in Indonesia. However, it is possible that the local business community will link Facebook Shop with Gojek services as Facebook has been officially an investor there. The new feature launch by Facebook is one of the strategies by companies to give practical solutions for business players in the middle of the pandemic. On the other hand, this step can also be utilised to improve public awareness of this new feature in creating digital seamless experience.
Another example that gained more advantages is Tanihub, an Indonesian agritech startup that experienced transaction increase for their Business to Consumer (B2C) online service during the pandemic. Tanihub is a business line that focuses on B2B and experienced decrease during the large-scale restrictions as many hotels, restaurants, and cafes were closed. As the pandemic takes place and the increase of the online platforms consistently improves, this company grows big on B2C sector.
Learning from the studies of the companies and brands above, both the business and company pivoting is starting to expand to the digital world as the solution in the future after the pandemic is over. Moreover, with the introduction and advancement of the technology that are offered to the society have enabled them to browse and do many different kinds of activities in one single device (be it smartphone, PC, or laptop).
The pivot needs to pay attention on the correlation among the running business and it is important to note that not al pivots will result a good satisfying business performance. First of all, pivot has to look into the long-term trend during the uncertain times in the pandemic, this includes social distancing, remote working, and the rise of technological use. One example for this is the online dating platform such as Bumble and Facebook Dating that offer people a feature to conduct video date. Secondly, pivot needs to be used to strengthen business strategy not to weaken it. Take for example Airbnb that offers virtual experience to allow tourists to find new destinations and hosts in the future. Thirdly, the pivot has to be sustainable by pushing the use of digital platforms.
Spotify has been utilising Podcast platform as its main service and globally it gains more than 31% subscribers during the first quarter of 2020. Specifically with Podcast, Carl Zuzarte, Spotify’s Head of Studios for Southeast Asia stated that Indonesia is one of the biggest growing markets. More than 20 percent users of Spotify are listening to podcast every month, a number that is higher than average globally.
The increase of digital platform users has made the process of globalization more apparent. The same thing goes with the future of business that will rely so much on online, digital, and application-based sectors. Brands or companies can start utilising the communication strategy on digital sector by creative approach as well as adding the values on social aspects. It is shown that during the pandemic, people are more appealed to brands that touch the topic on humanity, social issues, and to those that offer practical solution to help them out from the adversity of COVID-19.
Written by: Margaretha Nazhesda
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