Many companies in the building materials sector have been performing better than what was anticipated at the beginning of the crisis. What are the main reasons for this?
The unexpected lockdown in the early months of the year came as a shock for manufacturers and consumers. But it quickly translated into a reinforcement of the "cocooning" trend: More time spent at home has driven consumers to improve, renovate, and update the interior and exterior of their homes. Building materials, furniture, and kitchen and home decoration sectors have benefited. As contact restrictions remain in place over the coming months, we expect these market conditions to continue in the near future. However, consumer confidence could be harmed by the ongoing recession and an increase in unemployment rates. And once restrictions are lifted, consumer spending will likely shift again.
What impact will the COVID-19 crisis have on (future) customer interactions?
During the COVID-19 crisis, the development of digitalization significantly sped up, driven by physical distancing and travel restrictions. In addition, all stakeholders along the value chain have moved even closer together and strongly aligned with suppliers and customers to manage the challenges of the crisis together.
The way to do business will change very fast. Even though there is a strong desire to meet face to face in B2B markets, many touchpoints will remain digital. This will permanently alter the way field sales teams and internal customer service teams operate. All in all, I believe that there is a great opportunity to improve sales efficiency.
Which go-to-market models need to be accelerated?
All go-to-market models need to be supported by digital tools and processes. Besides the support of direct customer interactions, there is a special opportunity arising for “pull” activities toward the mass of end customers, craftsmen, and other influencers in the decision network. The challenge is to have digital processes and tools customized and perfectly fit for purpose for each stakeholder to provide the best customer experience possible. We are working on that.