Life during the global pandemic is something people have been used to by now. Society has learnt to take care of themselves and their families by adapting their lifestyles. Social distancing, wearing gloves and masks while going outside, carrying hand sanitizers, etc are some of the new norms of the society today.
The pandemic also led to the creation of many new young entrepreneurs who wanted to capitalise on the market demand created during this period. As selling through social media sites such as Facebook is quite easy and requires almost no investment, young entrepreneurs rushed to start selling hand sanitizers, masks, gloves and essential commodities through online pages and groups.
These young entrepreneurs were quick to jump on trends and hypes but however, many of these online businesses are being unable to maintain proper product quality as well as customer service. As a result, customers are being dissatisfied and losing out and losing trust on new online pages. Entrepreneurship should be aimed at solving consumers' problems rather than to just capitalise on short term opportunities in the market. This usually happens when a business is formed with a lack of proper vision, lack of long-term planning and the lack of a proper mindset for customer centricity. This is an area where young entrepreneurs of our nation have a lot to learn from large corporations and brands who have successfully launched new products and services during the pandemic.
Marico, a fast-moving consumer goods multinational corporation (MNC), renowned for its coconut oil brand, Parachute, leveraged this pandemic to introduce new products. A lack of proper hygiene can result in the spread of Covid-19 if one does not wash their hands after touching an infected person or a surface. This increased the demand for handwash products. Marico launched a handwash to cater to this demand. At the same time, Marico also launched a hand sanitizer as they are easy to use, convenient and can be used on the go.
In addition, Marico launched another interesting product which helps to wash germs, chemicals and bacteria off fruits and vegetables. This product will surely help to strengthen our fight against the pandemic. As per the official press release, Ashish Goupal, managing director of Marico Bangladesh Limited said, "Today's consumers are conscious about their hygiene needs and are aware of the importance of fruits and vegetables for a healthy balanced diet and immunity-boosting. Contamination of vegetables and fruits are a concern that has heightened especially today. Mediker SafeLife Veggie Wash is made with the broader purpose of enabling consumers to safely cleanse fruits and vegetables. We believe that as a responsible corporate this is our role in ensuring consumers eat safe."
Young entrepreneurs should recognise the responsibility they play in society and carry out responsible product development. Large corporations maintain their product and service standards as well as provide excellent customer service and maintain due diligence in every step of conducting business operations. As a result, they have created large brands from successful product launches which met the needs of their customers.
During the pandemic, customers are anxious and concerned about their health and well-being. What if a product or service could help customers feel more assured? Mutual Trust Bank, a local bank, in partnership with Guardian Life Insurance Limited, introduced an innovative new deposit product for its retail customers. They launched the country's first ever fixed deposit product with Covid-19 along with life insurance coverage. With a minimum investment of Tk 100,000, customers will be able to claim the interest on the fixed deposit as well as the Covid-19 life insurance coverage.
Meftahul Hasan Arnob, junior assistant vice president of Mutual Trust Bank shared, "This time around we tried to design a consumer demand driven product. Giving the customer an option to secure his or her family's future while making a bank deposit was the main product statement we wanted to make."
During the general holidays, people minimised their movements as they did not want to risk visiting public places. Many customers were not able to visit banks to pay their credit card bills. This meant customers would have to incur interest on their amount owed. bKash, the country's leading mobile financial service (MFS) provider, introduced a feature to help customers to pay their credit card bills of Visa Credit Card issued by any commercial bank operating in Bangladesh through bKash. This is an example of how large organisations successfully leverage technology to make their customer's life more convenient.
Since the pandemic began, many sectors were highly affected and led to the loss in the livelihood of many people. Workers in the informal sector were among the hardest hit. During the holy month of Ramadan, it is a common practice to donate to the less fortunate. This year many wanted to donate to those who lost their livelihood from the pandemic. IPDC Finance, a local non-banking financial institution, came up with a solution to help its customers make a contribution to the less fortunate. IPDC Finance launched a deposit service through which, if a customer makes a deposit of minimum Tk 100,000 for a tenure of one year, IPDC Finance will provide one month's worth of food to an underprivileged family.
Md Kyser Hamid, deputy managing director and head of retail business of IPDC Finance shared, "IPDC Manobota is a sustainable deposit product with purpose that serves both end of the society to hold the equilibrium in the pandemic situation. Thankfully our esteemed clients understood the intention of the product from day one and served the underprivileged people by saving money with IPDC Finance."
Young entrepreneurs need to learn from the successful product launches in the market and develop the innovation mindset and strategy for running their small businesses. At the end of the day, businesses exist to meet customer's real problems and this should be the number one priority as learnt from the large organisations. By doing so, these young entrepreneurs will be able to conduct businesses in a sustainable manner that stays relevant in the post-pandemic era.
The writer graduated from IBA, University of Dhaka and is currently working at a non-banking financial institution (NBFI). He can be reached at [email protected]