The Coronavirus in China: What Should Businesses Do

In a recent article, we talked about the economic opportunity China represents and the challenges of doing business there. However, these days the country is facing an entirely different and unprecedented challenge. The coronavirus outbreak has so far affected the lives of tens of thousands. Restaurants and stores have closed, amusement parks have shut down, and people are confined to work from home to minimize potential exposure to the deadly virus. It is a trying time for the Chinese people, and, arguably, one no one could have anticipated.

Businesses banking on the continuous growth of the Chinese economy are now feeling the impact the coronavirus has on their bottom line. Some industries are more heavily affected than others. The closure of ports aimed at containing the spread of the virus is now affecting the global supply chain of manufactured goods. For instance, the carmaker Hyundai has been forced to shut down their plants in South Korea due to a lack of components normally shipped out of China. The coronavirus will continue to have ripple effects on the global business until it is successfully contained.

So what should companies already in China or who want to do business there do in the face of this crisis?

For starters, they should be adapting their messaging.

 

Nike

Example of a recent Nike message, the brand going all the way to adapt it’s famous slogan to “Just Don’t Quit”

Global brands such as Nike or Under Armour who have local operations have all shown unwavering support to the Chinese people by offering advice on how they should take care of their health or exercise to keep in shape while they are forced to stay home. Starbucks has detailed all the steps they have taken to ensure the health and safety of their employees during this difficult moment while thanking them.

Starbucks
In a recent post, Starbucks explained measures they have taken in their stores

While there is arguably little businesses can do in the current situation, they should demonstrate cultural sensitivity and support for those affected. Adapting a company’s messaging, while staying very much on-brand, is key when entering a new market. It is doubly so if they have their own employees and staff already on the spot. And sometimes, showing empathy is the only thing to do.

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