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A Whole New World: Welcome To The Gap Market Of Today The status quo will be disrupted in many ways, and our expectations will change under the pressure of our current context.

By Hanna VanKuiken

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The world has been changing rapidly, thrown into tumult by the novel coronavirus outbreak. As this virus has swept the globe, taking lives, disrupting healthcare, and the global economy, the pressures that people and businesses are facing is constant, and are constantly changing.

These massive pressures and challenges that people are feeling mean that their mindsets are changing too. What we were concerned about in January is no longer a priority– our focus, ideals, and needs have shifted. What were commonly held notions before will transform. The status quo will be disrupted in many ways, and our expectations will change under the pressure of our current context. As the world changes, so will our mindsets.

As our mindsets and ideals change, this will open gaps. These gaps are areas of new needs, new desires, and changing dynamics. The gaps are opportunity, space, and relevancy for products, services, brands, and industries, which will change in response.

How changing mindsets open gaps in the market

For example, in the years of The Great Recession (2008-2009), people everywhere were under great economic pressure. Many people struggled to make car payments, and others were looking for second jobs for supplementary income. The pressure and the need resulted in a gap as people opened their minds to new possibilities in order to find new solutions. So, when Uber launched, offering a new way to get around without owning a car, as well as a new way to earn money on the side, this cross-industry innovation was warmly welcomed.

Going back further into history, in the US, during the Second World War, when the men were called to the front lines to fight, this led to a shortage in people to work in the factories back home, causing pressure on the manufacturing and industry sectors at the time. This resulted in the creation of a new mindset, signified by Rosie the Riveter- suddenly, women were needed in the workforce, and they responded. Following the war, the men returned home, and resumed their jobs in the factories. However, a shift had happened– women no longer wholeheartedly believed that they belonged only at home, as had been the pre-war notion.

Whether the brand recognized it at the time, or not, the Tupperware brand responded to this new mindset for many women, who desired to be in the workforce. By introducing an at-home selling model (Tupperware Parties), Tupperware changed their employee model, and in many ways, they introduced the modern-day gig economy, thereby enabling women to work in the post-war era. Now, this move by Tupperware may seem like a small step, comparatively, it wasn't a fast change like Uber. However, today, we have made great progress in, while still striving for, gender-parity across workplace hierarchies and industries. This is in part due to a boost and a change in mindset brought on by Rosie, and then stimulated by Tupperware, as a movement began.

So, what does this mean for today? Well, for starters, we are finding ourselves in a gap market again.

A look at the gap market of today

We are in an unpredictable and constantly changing world. Our world has slowed down, taken vast precautions, gone inside, and in some instances, even shut down. Our world has changed drastically- creating a host of new pressures and challenges.

Related: Going The Distance: Why Remote Working Is The Key To A Flexible Future

The scale and severity of change that we see in the market today is creating gaps of new mindsets, new needs, new ideals at an equally representative scale. We are in a gap market– a time in which change and disruption of the norm is, in some areas, more common than continuation of the norm.

Today's gaps, these new opportunities, are not standard– they are the result of unpredictable challenges, causing new needs and shifting mindsets. We can begin to identify these gaps starts by observing headlines, habits, and changes, and then asking ourselves questions, to open our own minds to what perceptions may change.

For instance: will consumers shift their perception of healthcare? As more people, cooped up in their homes and scared of the pandemic are finding new ways to proactively boost their immune systems and improve their wellbeing, will they be open to new ways of taking care of their health?

Will consumers shift their perception of sharing personal data? As governments and organizations begin to plan for or roll out contact tracing to manage the outbreak, using consumer data towards a concrete and specific benefit, will consumers become more comfortable and perhaps even appreciate sharing their data?

Will consumers shift their perception of live events? As people, businesses, performers, museums, and more have found ways to engage and deliver experiences through online streaming or video conferencing apps, we have engaged using digital channels in prevalent and unprecedented ways. We've also found new ways to enable accessibility, despite being in our own homes. Will consumers be open to this notion, that if a live meeting or event isn't possible, then digital is a viable option?

Will consumers shift their perception of humanity and connection? While digital experiences have been our only connection to the rest of the world throughout this crisis, we have also realized what is more important than our screens or our latest apps. As consumers have come out to applaud and thank our healthcare workers each evening, will consumers continue to take time to celebrate the thing that also makes us so vulnerable- our humanity?

We are living through a gap market, and as such, opportunity is rampant as the pressures of this epidemic are changing mindsets. As peoples' notions and mindsets and assumptions change, this creates the opportunity for brands to respond, to innovate, to reframe, and to deliver in new ways that will lead us into the post-coronavirus era.

Related: Finding Jobs And Building Careers In The Age Of COVID-19 And Beyond

Hanna VanKuiken

Business Director, Rapp MENA

Hanna VanKuiken is the Business Director for Rapp MENA, a global advertising agency and creative consultancy. She has over ten years of experience leading teams in branding and design agencies as well as traditional advertising agencies. In the span of her career, she has led work with Proctor and Gamble, Mondelez International, FedEx, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, CA Technologies and MetLife. She is passionate about cross-functional collaboration and breaking down silos in order to achieve business goals and deliver to consumers and buyers in new and innovative ways. Originally from the US, Hanna is currently based in Dubai.

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