In a report developed by M&C Saatchi’s The Source Malaysia, the consumer insights and research company expects the government-mandated Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia to lead a major reframing of the way people live, work, exercise and socialise.
The report suggests that while some changes will remain and others will ease, 3 macro trends will emerge post MCO that will create a significant impact on the country, its people and the economy.
Acceleration of online: The shutdown of workplaces, schools, outdoor facilities and travel has heightened the need to open up to the internet and depend on its infrastructure for communications and productivity.
Rewriting of social rules: As a country that is extremely social and communal in nature, Malaysia will be forced to adopt new social rules of hygiene and distancing well past the MCO period.
Increased accountability: Governments, businesses and individuals will be more responsible in doing the right thing as their actions will be scrutinised by the general public closely.
While these 3 trends are in line with the changes observed across the globe, they will have a dramatic impact on businesses, individuals and the economy in expediting changes that would have otherwise taken place over the next 5 years.
Impact on brands, business verticals and communications
Brand communications: This is a critical time for brands to be in constant communication with their consumers and show how they are managing the crisis, when they will reopen, how they aim to manage the health & safety of their customers and how they will reward their loyalty post MCO.
Retail: Brands will have to cope with a lower propensity to spend and an increased focus on managing personal finances. Online banking will play an important role for financial management while visits to a physical store will be decreased. MCO has already spearheaded the pivot to e-commerce.
Entertainment: Out-of-home activities such as dining, mall experiences, gyms and nightlife will come with its own rules such as wearing masks, temperature checks and social distancing. Entertainment as a whole will therefore have a staggered return to normalcy based on its perceived risk level. Instead, Malaysians will replace these experiences with safer alternatives such as cooking at home, entertaining friends and family, at-home workouts, online shopping, and streaming.
Connectivity: During MCO, internet became a necessity, communications became all about connections and network, data and calling capabilities have become the value driver. Telecoms, which have long struggled with positioning will have an opportunity to reframe themselves to be viewed more than just a utility.
Travel: Tourism as an important sector of Malaysia’s economy and most Malaysians will likely delay travelling for as long as they can. To rebuild trust, travel companies can position themselves as a connector and protector of families and loved ones by assuring tourists of the high levels of hygiene, health checks, social distancing, contactless transactions and other procedures implemented, particularly for domestic and cross-border travel.
Economy: COVID-19 will encourage Malaysia to be more reliant on local stores, local produce, local employers, local travel and local businesses. Messaging should focus on buying Malaysian brands and products to help stimulate economic recovery and jobs; cheaper and healthier ingredients from locally trusted sources; and driving greater appreciation for what Malaysia has to offer.
Explains Dan Harrow, Managing Partner at The Source, Malaysia: “The pandemic and the resulting lockdown is reframing the world and acting as a positive force in Malaysia that will accelerate changes towards creating a new online economy; building a safer, hygiene-conscious country; and an increased sense of responsibility by the government, businesses and individuals who will make collective efforts to protect the country and the environment by reducing the impact on their friends, family, colleagues and fellow Malaysians.”
The report was developed via qualitative research with a representative sample of 30 Malaysians (50% M40 & 50% B40); exploring attitudes and needs during MCO and how these will continue or evolve once the CMCO is relaxed, and then beyond this towards an improved, post-MCO Malaysia.