One of the earlier, most obvious pivots has been alcohol distilleries and breweries making hand sanitiser. Using existing equipment and by getting hold of the right raw materials, alcohol producers have been able to start quickly producing this essential healthcare product. This is a great way to keep staff employed and keep the public healthy.
Gin distillery Archie Rose in Sydney was able to have 500ml bottles available, from concept to launch, in 10 days. The product was so popular that the first batch sold out within hours! They’re now taking pre-sales and note that the bottle and lid colours may be a mismatch of whatever packaging is available.
A few suburbs away, craft brewer Young Henrys also modified their production line to start making sanitiser. The closing of bars and restaurants has meant the business has slowed in wholesale orders. Originally the business started making it for their staff, but they were soon approached by charities and nursing homes who were desperately seeking sanitiser.
In South Australia, loudspeaker manufacturer Kyron Audio teamed up with Andrew Rogers Industrial Design (ARID) to make personal protective face shields for essential workers. Combining their skills, they were able to quickly design, prototype and manufacture these Australian-made masks. They’ve also specified that they won’t sell to distributors, only directly to people and organisations that use them. This is to efficiently get them into the hands of people that need them most.
The hospitality industry has been badly affected by recent events, but it’s also where we’ve seen the biggest variety of quick business innovations. With a large proportion of hospitality employees on casual contracts or international visas there’s been a strong need for cafes, restaurants and bars to stay operational.
Hatted fine dining restaurant Subo in Newcastle has introduced ‘Subo at Home’. They deliver a semi-prepared three course meal that only requires some basic cooking and assembly. The idea is that you can still have a creative meal with locally and seasonally sourced ingredients, where most of the work is done for you, to celebrate your special occasions while housebound.
Some venues even turned their business into a social enterprise, such as The Plough Hotel in Melbourne that, along with offering a custom take away menu including single serves or family meals to share, are providing a free meal to a healthcare worker for every $30 spent. You just need to order your food as usual and they’ll deliver free meals to the local hospitals.
Also in Melbourne, restaurant O.MY are selling grocery boxes each weekend with seasonal ingredients, largely from their 2.5 acre farm. They saw that people were struggling to get all the food they needed from supermarkets and that some felt vulnerable being in close proximity to others at the shops. Their farm fresh boxes are brimming with produce picked at its peak.
The fitness industry has also felt the impact of the recent shutdown as they are no longer able to run face-to-face training and classes, unless it’s outdoors, one-on-one with plenty of social distancing.
Sydney 80s aerobics fitness business, Retrosweat have managed to bring their classes entirely online. Each Saturday morning founder Shannon Dooley live streams a themed workout in an extravagant set. These classes are by donation, with the highest donation receiving a gift. Regular midweek classes are streamed through video call software Zoom, where a private link is shared once a student pays for their spot. One added benefit of taking the entire business online is that now Retrosweat is available to customers around the world, with classes strategically aligned to numerous timezones.
2020 has put a lot of pressure on a range of industries, but it’s inspiring to see how businesses have managed to quickly innovate and adapt so that they can keep their doors open and keep their teams employed.