Six ways in which future-thinking brands support Covid19 crisis

Six ways in which future-thinking brands support Covid19 crisis

Posted 27 April 2020 by Katie Kubrak

This Material Monday we celebrate the efforts of brands, businesses and cross-industry partnerships that are offering the aid where it is needed most, while showcasing to their communities that the well-being of people will always take priority ahead of profit. So today, we want to champion all these who are embracing the collaborative spirit and reminding people that trying to do our best here and now is a first step in fighting this pandemic together.

So far what was needed urgently included awareness, action, funds and supplies. As a result, many brands quickly adjusted their operations to utilise existing supply chains in order to reorientate the production toward hand sanitisers, personal protective equipment such as gowns, face masks and shields.

These efforts can be categorised into the following areas:

1. Help through Material Repurposing and Innovation

Acknowledging that without an appropriate face protection, the frontline healthcare worker is at a higher risk of catching the virus, the world’s leading sportswear brands – such as Nike and Adidas – focus their efforts on producing face shields for the medical staff.

In these efforts, Nike are working closely with the Oregon Health & Science University to produce thousands of full-face shields and air-purifying respirator lenses. Their final design repurposes collar padding and cords while reimagining the use of TPU, which was originally destined for Nike Air soles.

At the same time, Carbon and Adidas are utilising their experience and extensive 3D printing capacity to create over 18,000 face shields for medical personnel per week with the capacity to extend up to 50,000.

Facing the current crisis, these brands are turning their shoe sole and material innovations into making what is most needed in the quickest amount of time with Nike delivering their first batch of protective gear on April 3rd 2020.

2. Production support

Increased demand for PPE also affected availability of face masks (N95, surgical masks) and hand sanitisers. Many global fashion brands such as LVMH Group, Armani Group, Barbour, Havaianas, Prada, H&M, Hugo Boss, New Balance, Lacoste, Salvatore Ferragamo and more had jumped in without any apprehension to help.

The French luxury goods group LVMH (includes Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy) was one of the first to respond by assigning three of its perfume and cosmetics factories to produce between 12 -50 tonnes of free hand sanitiser a week for French hospitals instead of the usual Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy scents manufactured onsite. What is more, the group has also placed an order for 10 million face masks with a trusted Chinese supplier, which are to be distributed across France, Spain and Italy.

On the other hand, Burberry are using their global supply chain network to fast-track the delivery of 100,000 surgical masks to NHS. The brand is also repurposing their factory, which usually makes their iconic trench coats, to make non-surgical gowns and masks for patients in UK hospitals. Correspondingly, Barbour is utilising their factory, which usually makes their iconic waxed jackets, to support the NHS by providing as much as 23,000 gowns over the course of three weeks.

Similar efforts can also be noted by the Armani Group, which is switching from manufacturing luxury goods into producing single-use medical overalls and Hugo Boss who has dedicated its entire clothing production site to manufacture 180,000 face masks. Other support comes from Prada, which aims to distribute 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks across relevant medical facilities. In like manner, the H&M Group is re-arranging their supply chain to produce all needed PPE items.

In addition, New Balance consulted with medical and R&D institutions to come up with a face mask prototype, which can be made out of materials immediately available in their factory. The brand aims to make up to 100,000 units per week. Equivalently, Lacoste’s manufacturing facilities have appropriated company’s material stock with aim to produce 145,000 washable and reusable masks by 31st April.

3. Financial aid

There are two main ways in which global brands are designating large sums in support of Covid19 fight. One is a direct donation, while the other is diverting the proportion or entirety of income from certain products towards funding research institutes, NGOs and charities that are at the frontlines of minimising the social impact of this pandemic.

Many brands donated millions to relevant causes including:

  • Giorgio Armani donated €2 million to hospitals and research institutions in Milan, Rome and the Tuscany Region;
  • Gucci donated €2 million in support of one local and global crowdfunding campaigns;
  • Burberry is funding vaccine research conducted by the University of Oxford, which aims to begin human trials in April/May;
  • H&M Foundation donated $500,000 to the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund;
  • Dolce & Gabbana are funding the research by Professor Alberto Mantovani for developing diagnostic tools.

At the same time other brands offer support thought their products. This includes:

  • All sales of Home Collection, Barbiere and Personal Care products that are made online in the month of April will be donated by Acqua Di Parma to support relevant initiatives;
  • A contribution of $153 million will be made by Unilever, owner of Dove brand, through the donations of soap, sanitiser, bleach and food.

4. Mental and well-being support

As entire globe finds itself in self-isolation, many brands are stepping in with resources and initiatives to help individuals take care of their mental health, facilitate well-being and present healthy ways of dealing with times of uncertainty.

The popular app Headspace has released a collection of content titled “Weathering the Storm”. It includes meditations, sleep, movement exercises and is now available for free to everyone.  Analogously, Shine app in partnership with an NGO – Mental Health America build a digital database of wellness tools for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The website covers the topics such as isolation, financial fears and news-induced anxiety.

In terms of brand’s support of its workers Starbucks has shown a pioneering initiative of offering free mental health services to its frontline workers and their families. This came into effect in April 2020 and was applicable to all full- and part-time workers.

5. Intention of care

Care has been displayed in a numerous of ways by brands during this pandemic with each aiming to provide something that is necessary to certain more vulnerable groups within the society and healthcare institutions.

Elders and those with other vulnerabilities had been in the centre of risk groups by not being able to access daily necessities due to consumers engaging in panic shopping. Supermarkets and grocery retailers around the world introduced special opening hours for those groups so that they have access to all products and can purchase in a more peaceful and less crowded environment.

Retailers who introduced these measures of care in UK include Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Lidl and Iceland. The same retailers have also implemented rationing, in order for more consumers to be able to consistently buy most necessary goods such as milk, toilet paper, pasta, eggs and more.

What is more, John Lewis has launched a £1m community support fund, which aims to aid local delivery services for these in most critical need as well as help distribute food boxes to care homes. Cook, a UK-based retailer and manufacturer of ready meals, is seeking to distribute free meals through its physical retail stores to elderly and these most vulnerable.

Havaianas – a brand most notably recognized for its iconic Brazilian flip flops – has recognized the lack of access to reliable information across low-income communities in Rio de Janeiro. For this reason, they have donated sound system equipment to one of the radio stations for the purpose of producing reliable content and broadcasting it on the streets of the city.

Being concerned for the well-being of the front-line hospital workers, which face long hours and strenuous schedules, some brands donate appropriate footwear. HOKA will donate 5,000 pairs of its max-cushion performance shoes, while Crocs has already donated over 200,000 pairs of shoes globally. At the same time, Dove’s newest campaign titled ‘Courage is Beautiful’ aims to celebrate medical workers and express immense gratitude for their dedication to global health.

Other way of in which brands have been showcasing social care is through equipment donations. This includes Prada’s donation of two complete intensive care and resuscitation units to Milan’s hospital as well as Jaguar Land Rover issuing a total of 57 vehicles, including 27 New Land Rover Defender SUVs to the British Red Cross to deliver medicine and food to the most vulnerable people across the country.

6. Cohesive Messaging

With governments and health organisations issuing official social measures and etiquette of how to behave during this pandemic, it’s been incredible to witness an outstandingly cohesive messaging and resourcefulness in finding best way to communicate these by majority of global brands to their unique communities.

One of the most notable brand communications that echoed official advice and was met with overwhelmingly positive response has been Nike’s campaign. Though it the brand has encouraged people to ‘play inside’ with the official copy stating, “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance.”

Just to conclude, we want to offer big thanks to all the global brands who are contributing to make the change and helping us all to get through the situation by offering necessary PPE, financial aid whilst doing much to maintain a sense of community. We love what you are doing and if there is anything we can support you with, please let us know. Also, if your brand is thinking how to make best use of your supply chain in this challenging time, please do not hesitate to get in touch via or leave the comment below to ask for advice.