The COVID-19 pandemic has created an opportunity for citizens and businesses around the world to step up and do what is right. We have seen the best of humanity step forward to help and support one another. Food pantries, food deliveries, community outreach efforts – we have seen businesses make changes in their process to look at the front lines of suffering and adjust their bottom lines accordingly. Unfortunately, we have seen and heard the stories of price-gouging and racial hatred that have also come to light and continue to affect communities and neighborhoods. Businesses have the opportunity to do what is right and there is a need for continued leadership and support from Main Street to Wall Street.
Do What Is Right with Prices
In the business world, scarcity drives demand, and the impulsive reaction is for businesses to drive up prices on commodities. During the first two weeks of the pandemic, we saw businesses hiking the prices of toilet paper because of people making “panic purchases.” There were entire areas of the country where basic ingredients, such as flour, were missing from store shelves and when it was in stock, the pricing was sky high. Increasing the price of goods that were already generating revenue in the current climate is not an opportunity; it’s price gouging. That behavior excludes a portion of your customers and lowers your reputation with your existing and future client base. On the other end of the scale, we have seen businesses making their products more accessible and temporarily lowering their profit margin so that more people can afford the things they need. There is a way to do what is right without ruining your business in terms of revenue or reputation.
Your Business Is Part of the Community
From brick-and-mortar stores on Main Street to online companies that serve the world, entrepreneurs need to realize that they are part of a community and people pay attention to how companies act during these times. Those that have been serving their customers and communities throughout the pandemic are going to be remembered and will receive long-term business once the virus has passed. Businesses are also taking an active stance to help black, minority, and under-served communities right now because they know it is time for a change and to promote justice and equality.
There is an old adage used to describe the free market that states, “People vote with their dollars.” That same phrase applies to small businesses and how they perform during a time of crisis. Customers will remember which businesses stepped up during the pandemic, which ones stepped up for justice and equality, and which ones gouged prices or remained silent, and will spend their money according to which businesses have done – and continue to do – what is right.