Pivot, Pivot, Pivot!

Companies Pivoting During Coronavirus

We’re chest deep in a pandemic that’s torn its way through our country’s largest suppliers, forcing brands across the world to come together and embrace a term that – in normal circumstances- might be met with some resistance: Pivot.

The athlete in me is familiar with this term. For example, pivoting in basketball is when you keep one leg firmly rooted on the ground, while the other moves your body clockwise or counterclockwise to find the best area to pass the ball.

Just like the late Kobe would do on the court, companies near and far are supporting consumers everywhere by producing products far outside their comfort zones. Many have acted sooner than the government’s response to this crisis. To all, we say thank you. Thank you for putting humanity before your bottom-lines. Thank you for showing us Humans Vs. COVID will always win (psst, check out or Weekly Wins for more on Humans Vs. COVID this week).

Here’s what the key pivoters are doing across industries:

Big Business Pivots:

Fashion Goes To Function: The t-shirt industry was among the first to announce a sensible pivot to making face masks and gowns to triage the explosive demand for hospital protective gear. Brands like Zara and Los Angeles Apparel are also on the mask-making train.

Sanitizer Gets a Makeover: Alcohol brands are following suit by leveraging their know-how to keep our hands clean. Tailgate giant, Anheuser-Busch, is making a brand to fill the Purell void. So is the Parisian luxury corporation, LVMH. Maybe when this is all over Luis Vuitton hand sanitizer will be included in their bags?

Don’t Share a Ride, Give a Ride: Shuttle-share company Via just closed a shocking $20M+ round after announcing it will provide a semi-private version of their app to ‘essential workers’ during this outbreak. Like it’s competitors, Via saw a steep 70-80% drop in user demand for rides. However, it’s pivot looks to place them in the favor of those who we still rely on to get to work, like our brave medical workers, grocery store employees, food transport personnel and those who deliver essentials to vulnerable populations.

Bright Minds Make A Big Difference: James Dyson, founder of Dyson, designed a new ventilator in 10 days. What? You mean you couldn’t do the same? Yeah, shock and major awe. The British government has now commissioned our favorite vacuum company to produce 10,000 ventilators. Meanwhile, YouTube’s created a Learn@Home website offering online educational learning and content for families. Idk about you, but I could use an arts class right about now…

Rebrand a PSA: Home staples like Coca Cola, Ikea, Chiquita Brands, and Guinness are all coming up with creative ways to brand in the times of COVID-19. Sure, it’s an “opportunity in crisis” move, but Coke’s gotta do what it’s gotta do to protect their shareholders and stay #relevant.

Small & Medium Pivots:

Pivots can be a brilliant play for a big company with lots of resources, but how can a small to medium-sized business pivot in a climate that is ultimately temporary? Some are small changes, like offering delivery instead of in-house dining, but the pivots we’re focused on are those that highlight a company’s launch of a new revenue stream, product or audience that could influence their future production and brand direction. So…. how can a small business pivot? Here are some solid ideas to start:

Virtual is the New Reality: There are hundreds of new examples of businesses transitioning in-person services to remote offerings. One that’s been extra dear to my heart is Lovely Bride. This bridal shop has rolled out “virtual fittings,” allowing brides to connect with a member of their team, explore their chosen options via Zoom, and then receive a dress of their choosing. As a 2021 bride-to-be, I’m quite grateful.

Production for Demand: A small Italian 3-D printing company , Isinnova, pivoted to print ventilator valves for their government’s supply shortage. Sure, it’s not the sexy thing to print, but it supports a new opportunity in health tech long after coronavirus leaves our news cycles. Meanwhile, a Chicago company that produces promotional items like event swag has leveraged their Chinese suppliers to start an e-commerce site called iHealth to sell hand sanitizer, masks, and other health goods to hundreds of governments and businesses currently experiencing a shortage.

Taking Events Digital: This has basically become a new business in and of itself. As countless events and conferences are being rescheduled or canceled, some coordinators are finding a silver lining in creating evergreen content by pivoting to online event experiences. Here’s how to set up your own virtual event.

Many businesses -of all sizes- are pivoting to meet a new, unmatched demand for healthcare supplies and resources. Others are finding relief in new revenue streams that impact their consumers and their brand value with little additional investment. These pivots could prove to support the big dogs’ earnings projections into Q3 and Q4, while the smaller businesses might realize new opportunities that help them grow faster than they ever thought possible. The light at the end of this tunnel is getting brighter day by day and pivot by pivot. We are so grateful to everyone driving this new economy forward.

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