Catalyst issue 3 | 2020: Taking care of business
- 17 July 2020
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Even in a pandemic, there is a window of opportunity. Step out of the comfort zone? Just now, as I write slap-bang in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, it doesn’t feel that we’re being asked just to step. More like we’re being shoved – launched, even – into a new and uncertain reality.
From the beginning, our aim for Catalyst has been for it to have a somewhat timeless quality. We believe that the learnings gleaned from our various contributors could apply today, tomorrow or in 10 years, while still adding new insights and exploring new trends with every issue. However, there is no escaping the fact that this edition has been put together at a peculiar time and in extraordinary circumstances.
It only takes a few weeks for a buzzword to take hold, then for it to start being ridiculed. So it has been for the phrase ‘the new normal’: at first, a comforting slogan which reassured people that, while the world may be upside- down, we may eventually be able to experience some of what went before – just a little bit differently.
Then cynicism crept in. As regulations relax, it won’t be long before we’re back to our old ways, they said. But given the insights delivered in these pages, I can see that there is all manner of opportunity.
Take, for example, our cover story: ‘Brand Knows Best’ (p16). Our editor-at-large, Lucy Handley, explores how it is being left to brands to bring about positive consumer behaviour change. Is this an example of the ‘nanny state’, or do consumers really welcome companies smoothing their path to healthier, wealthier lifestyles? At a time when the populace is being asked to take greater responsibility for its actions, clear guidance is always welcome, and who communicates better than marketers?
Last month, I would normally expect to host those marketers for our regular breakfast roundtable. This time, I was phoning instead, to find out if Covid-19 was going to change the way they operate forever. The short answer is no, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be change. Adobe has discovered new ways of delivering content; while SME The Cheeky Panda is discovering what it means to grow at warp speed.
From adapting to new consumer needs and behaviours, such as in our ‘Ramadan Kareem’ feature (p46), to keeping a check on ethical business practices (p60) or discovering how to make the most of your networks (p64), the pandemic has undoubtedly influenced this issue of Catalyst, but it has also revealed a wealth of possibilities.
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