The Chinese word for crisis is Wei Ji 危机 Wei means crisis while Ji means opportunity. In the ancient Chinese philosophy, opportunities often arise from crisis. This cannot be a better description to what was happening in China during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The COVID-19 started to get the attention of the Vorwerk management team in January, when the numbers of infected cases from Wuhan continued to rise. The situation deteriorated much faster than anyone could imagine. By end of January, the city of Wuhan and the Hubei province were put under lockdown, while in other cities, strict social distancing measures were introduced and most commercial activities had to stop, including the Cooking Studios, where more than 90% of the Thermomix product demos took place.
“In the beginning, we were all shocked,” says Fredrik Lundqvist, Country Manager for Thermomix China, “With all of us isolated in our homes, all advisors suddenly had to stop their regular and we all didn’t know what the next step should be.” But very soon after that, the team started to adapt to the new situation and started to try out new approaches.
After always having restricted sales through online demos and live-streamings in China, this was suddenly the only way to reach our customers. So the Chinese team encouraged everyone to be creative and experiment. Many initiatives came first from the advisors. They started to try out virtual demos and virtual cooking classes with the customers in existing platforms like WeChat. “Every week we were reflecting on ourselves, taking the lessons learnt and adapting ourselves. It is not about having the perfect concept from the beginning,” according to Fredrik. “We also facilitate frequent exchanges between the different branches and teams, making sure best practices can be quickly adapted and applied across the different teams.”
Soon the sales force became much more hands-on with the virtual demo, with the quick development of Vorwerk`s official miniprogram on WeChat, advisors could also try out virtual demos on the branded platform. New approaches continued to be developed and tried out, like group demo, group cooking class. One of the most memorisable scenes is one advisor from Wuhan also started live streaming of cooking class with his son together at home.
As the crisis is slowing fading off in China, the team there are also further evolving and taking advantage of the digital development. First virtual newcomer training was carried out and so was the first online recruitment event. With the dedication, openness and creativity of the team, the sales in Thermomix China has maintained at a very good level during the crisis, whether compared to budget or compared to previous year.
With China continue to ease the measures, many Cooking Studios open again. Logistic service is also resumed even in the city of Wuhan. The first Thermomix is also delivered to Wuhan after the crisis. “There is definitely no way going back,” says Fredrik, “the crisis has also given us opportunity to explore new approaches and we will take these learnings into the future.”
Text: Yiting Vollmar 阮沂婷