As the coronavirus continues to spread, concerns about its overall impact remain high. China, the second-largest economy in the world, has practically stopped production of consumer goods over the past few weeks. In an effort to control the spread of the virus, the country has taken severe measures, such as closing facilities, placing restrictions on people, and implementing quarantines in major cities.
As companies come to terms with how their businesses are being impacted by this unexpected situation, their upsets and outlooks vary. Deirdre Kiely, China Business Development & Marketing Executive of PrecisionBiotics, a world leader in researching nature’s bacteria and developing probiotics that impact human health, discusses her point of view.
How has the coronavirus outbreak impacted your business locally and globally?
Since the Chinese New Year was early this year, we expected February to be busy meeting new contacts. However, the rapid spread of the coronavirus, travel restrictions, and quarantines has greatly affected the ability to meet with people in person. To adapt to the situation, we have been connecting with people via conference calls. While these calls can be effective, it is not the same as meeting with people face-to-face and talking about collaborations.
What measures has your business taken to mitigate the losses caused by the outbreak?
To mitigate losses during the outbreak, our employees have been advised to avoid travel within or to affected areas. As the virus spreads, these restrictions have become more stringent. Despite the challenge of conducting business without traveling, it is understandable. We value our employees and if someone became seriously ill, it would be a huge loss to PrecisionBiotics. Also, the company is maintaining its presence on social media, which is another good way to stay in touch with our customers.
How long do you think it will take for your business to recover from the coronavirus outbreak?
I believe our Chinese business will recover quickly from the outbreak. Outside of Hubei, great efforts have been made to minimize the spread of coronavirus, which makes me hopeful that everyday life will return to normal soon. For Europe, it is difficult to know how long recovery will take at this point as they are just starting to be affected directly by the coronavirus, which has now spread to Italy, France, Germany, and Spain. Fortunately, as much of PrecisionBiotic’s business operates online, there is not a risk to our customers like there is for other businesses that require consumers to go to a physical store for products.
How is your leadership helping to protect employees traveling to areas impacted by the virus?
As the normal course of business has been disrupted, we are encouraging colleagues to use their free time constructively. It is rare to get this much free time while working, so it presents an ideal opportunity to nurture a new skill or develop a fresh approach for improving business. During this time, employees are also encouraged to take advantage of this downtime to focus on themselves.
Is your business putting contingency plans in place for the repercussions resulting from the outbreak?
We have been fortunate that our supply chain has not been disrupted too much by the virus. However, we have developed a contingency plan to serve our customers in China should the current procedure be disturbed. We will implement this plan in other countries, if necessary, as the outbreak spreads to Europe and other parts of the world. Additionally, we are utilizing our online tools as much as possible to stay connected with our partners and develop new contacts, as face-to-face meetings are not possible with travel limitations.
As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, is your company modifying its marketing and sales strategy?
We have modified our marketing and sales strategy due to the outbreak. We decided to defer our paid advertising budget to later in the year to be most effective. In the interim, we have refocused our efforts on creating highly engaging digital marketing content for new and existing followers.
Has the coronavirus outbreak hurt your brand, and if so, what are you doing to re-establish it?
The coronavirus outbreak has not hurt our brand. As a result of the virus, more people are looking at ways to improve their overall health and maintain a strong immune system, and probiotics can help. Despite the current situation, PrecisionBiotics always tries to provide our customers with advice and tips for overall healthy living.
Have there been any positive outcomes for your business as a result of the coronavirus outbreak?
We have all had to adapt to a new way of working and so far it has worked well, which is a positive for PrecisionBiotics. Our team has been able to demonstrate that we can adjust quickly and continue to work productively under unforeseen conditions. It shows we have business continuity built into the way we collaborate. Moreover, I am very confident that China along with the rest of the world will recover from this outbreak, and we will be well prepared as business flourishes again.