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The lasting effects of the pandemic on businesses: What will stay in 2021

Whether we want to admit it or not, 2020 irreparably changed us. The pandemic, and its effect on businesses has completely altered the way many industries once operated. Despite the challenges that presented themselves, the transformations that occurred weren’t all negative. Business owners in the hospitality and lifestyle verticals became more flexible and resilient than ever and many people came up with creative ways to continue to serve their customers when ‘business as usual’ just wasn’t possible.

But now that 2020 is over, what will be the lasting effects of the year of Covid 19? In this blog post, we take a look at the shifts that have occurred in the last few months and what this might mean for businesses in 2021. 

Read on to find out what we predict will be the defining trends of the year ahead and how you can work to overcome any potential challenges.


Using social media to build an ongoing relationship with customers

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that social media has the power to keep us together even when we’re (physically) apart. Given how much technology became even more of an integral aspect of our lives in 2020, it is clear that social media marketing is now more important than ever. In 2021, businesses who effectively utilise it as a tool will be far more likely to attract new customers, as well as maintain relationships with existing customers. Whether you are product or service based (or both), consumers rely on social media as the first touch point to a brand before deciding if they want to interact further. That’s why it’s so important to make that first impression count. If you aren’t focussing on this area yet, you’re missing an opportunity to effectively define your brand and speak directly to your audience. 

After the year we’ve had, people are craving human connection. Being active on socials is your chance to tell your story and get your community to really care about what it is you’re offering. If you need help with developing an effective social media strategy, check out our blog post, or shoot us a message at info@milkbottleprojects.com and we’d gladly help you out

Focus on supporting local

Given that many supply chains were disrupted by the pandemic, 2020 saw a huge focus on ‘supporting local’. This trend was also particularly relevant to the hospitality industry in Melbourne as the 5km radius meant that Melbournians really got to know their neighboring restaurants. We strongly believe this trend is here to stay as consumers are now more aware of the positive impact this can have. They came to realise that visiting restaurants in their area meant they were actually making a difference in real people’s lives and contributing to the survival of the business.

Many restaurants during this time made a particular effort to show the faces behind their business and voice what they were going through. For instance, Theodore’s in Brunswick were very vocal about their struggle during the pandemic on social media. They asked people to help get them through the time with a call to action to buy their groceries from them, rather than big chains. From looking at the response, it seems they were met with lots of support as people felt motivated to support their own community’s economy. 

In the year ahead, having restricted access to international suppliers will likely still come with its challenges. However, with the ‘we’re all in this together’ sentiment remaining strong, it is an opportunity for small businesses to really engage with your community and gain their support. 

 Ways you can do this include: 

-Discussing the origins of your ingredients on social media 
-Using local suppliers
-Doing a ‘supplier spotlight’ on your blog that highlights the real people behind the scenes
-Collaborating with local business 


Innovation and less conformity

In each industry, there’s usually a standard practice for running a business within that vertical, though, this was completely flipped on its head last year. High-end restaurants were forced to start offering retail options, and take home cocktails in sachets became a standa. It’s believed that there will be a continuation of many of these services, given their surprising success.

We predict that going forward, we’ll see more so-called ‘norms’ being thrown out the window. In other words, conformity is out and creativity is in. Furthermore, innovations in technology will also lead to other changes in industries, for example, the introduction of QR codes, order and pay stations and mobile apps as a means of viewing menus. QR codes were first intended to be used for contract tracing, however, they’ve now opened up a whole new opportunity to collect customer information, particularly email addresses. Check out our other blog posts to find out how email marketing can assist your business

Looking forward, it seems that businesses and customers alike are now far more receptive to new ideas and possibilities. Creativity has long been a core pillar of success in the hospitality and lifestyle industries and this is now more important than ever. Businesses who set themselves apart by thinking outside the box are set to soar in 2021, so if there’s something that you’ve wanted to try out for a while, now is the time to give it a go. It is a fresh start, after all! 


Sustainable business

In 2019, our society had started to make grounds in understanding our most vital environmental issues, Covid-19 somewhat paused the momentum. Once a threat that was considered more immediate came up, those small sustainable lifestyle changes, like keep cups, all went out the window. 

This will all be changing in 2021, environmental consciousness is back and in a big way. As the threat of the pandemic lessens, people have more mental capacity to make this issue a priority again. Therefore, going forward, it’s important that your customers know that you’re doing your part to reduce your impact on the environment. 

Some ways you can incorporate sustainability into your business strategy include:

-Using recycled/recyclable packaging 
-Communicating your sustainability commitment on your website
-Using social media to discuss the ways that your business works to protect the environment/avoid waste


Implementing boundaries

Last year encouraged us (or perhaps forced us) to learn the power of rest. Our lives move at such a fast pace, we often forget that taking a moment to recuperate actually makes us more productive. With business owners having been given an opportunity to pause and reflect on the way they operate, we’ll likely see more businesses solidifying their boundaries in 2021. In simple terms, boundaries are the guidelines we set to ensure healthy relationships with those around us that help us to define what we will or won’t accept in our lives. 

In terms of business, setting boundaries can often manifest as letting go of the need to be everything to everyone. It’s about setting a standard and respecting the value of what you have to offer. Although it can be scary to let go of the desire to make everyone happy, setting healthy boundaries in 2021 will be your most valuable tool in avoiding burnout. 

For hospitality and lifestyle industries, boundaries can look like:

-Closing an extra day a week
-Being strict on booking seatings and cancellation costs 
-Respecting the time when you’re not working – that means completely switching off from emails, social media etc. 
-Pairing pack your offerings 


So there you have it…the trends we think are set to define 2021. Even though there is still an air of caution as we head into this new chapter given what we’ve been through, we think Mary Pickford encapsulated it perfectly when she said, “this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.” Last year may have knocked us all down, but 2021 is the year we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and come back stronger than ever. 

If you’d like to know more about how Milk Bottle Projects can support your business this year, please Contact us at MBP today.