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Executive Doodle – Annual 2021

Life goes on amid all the chaos and external changes. COVID-19 still remains at the epicenter of the world with the kind of disruption that is difficult to fathom yet it continues to force itself on the human race at an unprecedented level. I am sure this is not the first time you would have heard someone say, “When are things going to get back to normal?”, as much as we are continuously questioning during this particular uncertainty, since it is so highly discomforting. The one thing that we all yearn for is stability which seems to be the least guaranteed in the present circumstances. It is so interesting that a quick reflection on the last 8 months or so and the massive changes that humans have adapted to is no less than a miracle. We were pushed, forced, challenged and cornered and each time we stood up and faced it with greater resolve. We don’t need to be told that we are resilient as time has proven through history that we have risen from the ashes and fought back each time our backs were against the wall.

I know we are now getting used to the new normal where a lot is quite different to what it was pre-COVID. Having said that, there are certain changes which may not revert back to how it was in the earlier days. An exceptionally large part of these changes are digitally-influenced, which we can expect to keep building on our behavior and as a response to our paranoia and fear of the pandemic. I cannot imagine that we will discontinue our newly acquired habit of excessive hand-washing or using hand sanitizer when we have control over the pandemic. Similarly, there are many other new habits that we will carry forward even when our fears subside in the near future.

I also find it interesting that our changed priorities have led to new consumption habits. According to a recent research report by J.P. Morgan, COVID-19 has transformed consumer spending habits. There is a surge in sales of household cleaners, soap, vitamins and supplements, hair color and coffee. There is also a double-digit decline in sales of cosmetics and sun-care products. There is also a major increase in demand for hi-speed internet, streaming and cable services, video games and online gaming, food delivery services etc. All these changes demonstrate that we are highly influenced by our environment and our habits can shift instantaneously.

I want to leave you with one more thought. With the COVID-19 vaccinations rolling out, there will be a huge cost that governments as well as individuals will pay for. To give you an idea, the cost of one vaccine will average from $25 to $35, hence the total cost of vaccinating a whole population will run into billions. Don’t you think this cost will be at the expense of another priority on the government’s agenda; such as education, health, infrastructure or human development? We are in unusual times where disruptions like these may continue in the next decade. Though I cannot predict the future, I can say that we have entered a new spiral of evolution, where we will be faced with multiple conflicts. Our biggest challenge will be to maintain a balance within, despite the continuous changes in the environment.

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