Pandemic Pivots: Our Favourite Business Adaptations During COVID-19

17 April, 2020

It goes without saying that the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every inch of our lives. Businesses have changed an unprecedented amount, forcing them to navigate these new pressures and entirely changing the way they operate. 

From independent pubs and shops to retail giants, a temporary shut-down order means they’ve all had to change their strategy to stay afloat. 

The situation has even coined the term; ‘Do the Pandemic Pivot’.

In the wake of social-distancing measures, self-isolation and working from home measures, companies are now making full use of digital services or pivoting their product offering to help with the crisis.

So while the worldwide pandemic rages on, these acts of resilience have caught our eye. Either as a new way to make money or vital aid that will simultaneously keep their brand alive.

Starling Bank

Usual offering: Online bank.

Pivoted offering: Spare debit card for someone trusted to shop for you during isolation.

Starling Bank has introduced the 'Connected card'; a spare debit card that customers can link to their account. Now someone they trust can use it to pay for groceries or other essential items whilst they isolate. For safety measures, it only has a limit of £200 and can’t be used online.

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Air BnB

Usual offering: Hosts can list their property so travellers can book their accommodation.

Pivoted offering: Free housing for health workers.

While lockdown continues and our holidays are cancelled, Air BnB are working towards putting those empty rooms to fantastic use. They’ve announced a global initiative to house health workers and first responders for free during the COVID-19 crisis. 

“Airbnb is helping to connect UK medical professionals on the frontline with hosts offering free places to stay during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hosts with entire homes that comply with safety and cleanliness protocols can opt in.”

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The Grand National

Usual offering: Horse racing event at Aintree Racecourse.

Pivoted offering:  A virtual Grand National.

Rather than a mass gathering at Aintree, The Grand National was broadcast virtually as a computer-simulated version of the racecourse's steeplechase. CGI recreated the course layout and National fences as accurately as possible. 

Bookmakers still had odds, but profits went to NHS Charities Together.

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Usual offering: Vacuum cleaners, hairdryers, fans heaters and more.

Pivoted offering: Ventilators.

Famous for their vacuum cleaners and fans, Dyson have turned their expertise to helping the fight against COVID-19. In comes… the revolutionary Dyson ventilator. It doesn’t need a fixed air supply, it’s portable and also efficient in conserving oxygen. 

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Collectiv Food

Usual offering: Food procurement platform for restaurants.

Pivoted offering: Fresh produce and dessert delivery.

Collectiv Food now partner with Farmdrop to offer the people of London fresh meat, fish, plant-based alternatives and desserts - delivered right to their homes.

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Royal Mint

Usual offering: Coins and bullion.

Pivoted offering: Medical visors.

Engineers at Royal Mint - usually creating our coins, bullion and gifts - quickly adapted to support NHS workers. After choosing medical equipment they could easily produce on their site, they began developing medical visor prototypes. And even had a design approved within just 2 days!

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Koru Kids

Usual offering: Nanny shares.

Pivoted offering: Emergency childcare and training medical students to become child carers.

Koru Kids already specialise in arranging nanny shares in London, but during COVID-19 they’ve added an emergency service for parents working at home and are training medical students to be child carers for the NHS staff’s children. 

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Sharky and George

Usual offering: Kid’s events.

Pivoted offering: Online parties and boxes.

Sharky and George, the popular kid’s party planners now offer fun to children who are celebrating their birthdays during the pandemic. There’s online virtual parties and ‘Isolation Birthday Boxes’ - helping to keep that birthday magic alive.

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Joe Wicks

Usual offering: Fitness and nutrition coach, author.

Pivoted offering: Free online P.E. classes for kids.

Joe Wicks is already a resident fitness and nutrition coach but during COVID-19, he’s pivoted his offering to a workout aimed at kids. Again, it’s free to watch but he’s accrued over 2.25m YouTube subscribers (and counting) - something he can certainly capitalise on afterwards. 

Admirably, he’s donating any YouTube profits from the classes to the NHS!

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Usual offering: Pre and post natal fitness classes at local gyms.

Pivoted offering: Virtual, live classes.

Similarly, MummyFIT offer pre and post-natal fitness classes at luxury gyms. Whilst they’re closed, they’ve turned virtual with ‘MummyFIT LIVE’. They’re the same workouts for mums but in the comfort of their own home.

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Signature Brew

Usual offering: Brewery.

Pivoted offering: ‘Pub in a Box’ deliveries.

Who isn’t missing the pub right now? Signature Brew is bringing it home to you. The brewery is paying unemployed musicians to deliver a ‘Pub In A Box’ that includes beer, snacks, glassware, a quiz and more. 

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Usual offering: Distillery and bars.

Pivoted offering: Hand sanitiser.

Signature Brew aren't the only distillery changing things up. BrewDog have transformed their distillery into developing hand sanitisers for those in need. 

They may not be selling them, but it’s a pretty great marketing tool to keep them in the forefront of our minds. 

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Chester Zoo

Usual offering: Animal tourist attraction.

Pivoted offering: Virtual tours.

Since you can’t go to the zoo… they’ll bring it to you. Chester Zoo have been taking fans on a virtual tour of the whole zoo for a day of animal antics. 

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Car and Away

Usual offering: Airport parking and car rental.

Pivoted offering: Free car loans for key workers.

Normally like an Air BnB for cars, they’ve launched Karshare - aiming to build a fleet of cars on loan from members of the community. They can be used completely free of charge by key workers; NHS workers, volunteers, carers, food bank volunteers and more.

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Images by Amber

Usual offering: Wedding photography.

Pivoted offering: At home (front porch) shoots.

With many weddings cancelled or postponed for engaged couples, Amber Robinson of ‘Images by Amber’ has creatively pivoted her offering. Instead of big day shoots, she’s providing front-porch mini photoshoots with images of them staying home together - a great way to bring in income whilst socially distancing.

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Usual offering: Platform to book musicians for events.

Pivoted offering: Personalised music messages.

Encore is a platform used to book musicians, but during the pandemic, you can send personalised ‘music messages’ to friends and family. Artists will now produce birthday and anniversary wishes, or adapt song lyrics to include a quarantine theme. 

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National Theatre

Usual offering: Theatre productions.

Pivoted offering: Streaming pre-recorded live productions.

National Theatre will have taken a huge hit during lockdown, with all shows cancelled. Every Thursday, they now stream a pre-recorded live production on YouTube - free of charge. One Man, Two Guvnors, featuring James Cordon was the first one!

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Usual offering: Beer.

Pivoted offering: Pre-purchase gift cards.

Budweiser has launched the ‘Save Pub Life’ initiative; they want to help out struggling landlords while their pubs are closed. The usual pub go-ers can now buy a £20 gift card (as a pre-purchase) for when they reopen - and Budweiser will double the value to £40!

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Usual offering: Gyms.

Pivoted offering: Space for extra hospital beds.

While the gyms remain as empty as Christmas Day, 1Rebel fitness clubs are offering their spaces to the NHS for extra beds during COVID-19.

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Not only are there inspirational pandemic pivots; there are also company launches, new initiatives and branding changes. 

Netflix Party

Inviting friends or lovers over to watch Netflix is the usual. But with lockdown continuing, the new Netflix Party means you can still watch those addictive TV series and movies with company - wherever you all are. There’s even a group chat so you can gossip about it together. 

Time Out

Time Out have rebranded to Time In - using their well-known name to encourage the public to stay home and save lives.

Bloom & Wild

We are a huge fan of Bloom & Wild’s new ‘thoughtful marketing’. The online florist suggested simple things you can do to make someone’s day.

It also goes without saying that some of our old favourites are needed more than ever. Google Hangouts, FaceTime and Zoom are keeping us connected with loved ones and as sane as possible throughout this unprecedented time.

Written by Jo

Jo arrived at Evoluted towards the end of 2017, bringing several years’ digital experience with her. She cites the continuous innovation of new tools and how they can be utilised for targeting as being a key inspiration behind her interest in the industry.

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