Malaysia’s Business Landscape One Year After Complete Lockdown (MCO 1.0)

Malaysia’s Business Landscape One Year After Complete Lockdown (MCO 1.0)

It has been 15 months since Malaysia went into the first lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. March 18, 2020 was the first time the country went into a complete lockdown.

Everyone panicked, we had no idea how to deal with the Movement Control Order (MCO). But we understood that we needed to comply with numerous unprecedented measures to contain the virus spread. The immediate aftereffect of the MCO in Malaysia? The economy plunged to the lowest.

Fast forward to today, many businesses have closed down, many employees lost their jobs or are forced to switch to other jobs to make ends meet. For business owners, if you still haven’t made an effort to evolve your business, it probably cannot survive a few months of lockdown.

As people are unable to go out during the MCO, many physical shops are closed and consumer behaviour has completely changed. If we look at the digital marketing landscape in Malaysia in the past one year, many changes took place; the new norm has become essential.

Here is what I noticed about the business landscape in Malaysia throughout this period.


1. Where Can I Find You?

In a short period of time, businesses especially traditional businesses have gone on to digitize their brand.

This includes creating the simplest WhatsApp group marketing, creating a company social media account (finally), opening an online store in the marketplace like Shopee and Lazada, creating an eCommerce store or company website so that potential and existing customers can find them online.

In order to survive, businesses try everything, including promoting themselves on all major channels to keep the business afloat. If your target audience is unable to see your brand on the common platforms, you are missing a big chunk of exposure.

Your online presence becomes an essential digital footprint that defines your brand to the public. Moreover, the Covid-19 has sped up the transition or digitalization of SMEs in Malaysia.

In fact, it is a good sign that many are taking the first step into the digital marketing world.

success story by foo chiat keat

Read how his Shopee Store Went Viral in 1 day!


2. How to Grab Attention in the Digital World

The next stage is the attention-grabbing process where every business wants to attract the eyeballs of online citizens.

Out of a sudden, Facebook Live, webinars and live streaming have become extremely popular.

We see people start bidding for fresh meat, seafood, toys or snacks online at live streaming.

Starting from letting the customer order using a plain image menu to letting the customer order via private message, many businesses have now evolved to a complete online store.

When businesses have more customers, they start to look for a proper customer relationship management (CRM) system, point-of-sale (POS) system or full eCommerce solution to sync their selling account on marketplaces, physical stores and logistics.

Indeed, if your brand, content or products are unable to grab attention online, many would just skip and ignore your business.

Want to let your target audiences know your brand? Build an online presence according to where they go online.

Exabytes Malaysia Facebook live screenshot

Source: SME DigitalFest 2021 Day 1 (Part 2)


3. Learn or Work From Home

Many companies offer the option for their employees to work from home (WFH).

In the beginning, most people thought that WFH would cause productivity to reduce. However, as people are getting used to it and companies are slowly adapting to the new norm, WFH is a great way to keep all employees safe while maintaining productivity.

The WFH culture indirectly improves the sales of WFH-related products, such as chairs, tables, webcam, laptops, LED lights for video call and more.

Project management tools like Trello, Asana or Notion become the bread and butter to enable the team to get themselves updated with the workflow, progress and timeline. Believe it or not, some companies in Malaysia even move to a smaller office or renovate to make it more productive.

The fact is, more and more companies have started to discover that working from home can even increase the overall business performance.

Besides, online learning is becoming another booming industry.

From kindergarten to tuition centre, university and other learning institutions, all are switching to adopt a learning management system (LMS) to keep the business afloat.

Although the learning experience is different from traditional classroom teaching, the choice of online learning is always welcome.

This trend will definitely continue to grow.

share of respondents working from home

Source: LSE Southeast Asia Blog by Siti Aiysyah Tumin


4. The Growth of Paid Advertising

When more businesses enter the social media world, the competition gets stiffer.

From the usual “boost” post to installing Facebook Pixel or Conversion API on Facebook Ads, people are getting more and more skilful in making use of these powerful tools.

Not to forget the countless “gurus” who appear on the social media ads and claim once you attend their course and follow their “secret” formula, you are guaranteed a certain amount of sales.

Anyway, all in all, it’s a good sign as more businesses are willing to tap into paid online advertising.

While there is no perfect formula for any paid advertising platform to offer guaranteed return-on-investment (ROI), at least public awareness is becoming higher.

In other words, the digital marketing industry is becoming more mature and competitive.

At the end of the day, the question of whether you should hire an in-house digital marketing team to execute your digital marketing activities or outsource depends on your company resources, time and the decision of the upper management.

Malaysia Facebook IQ Insights to Go statistics

Source: Facebook IQ – Insights to Go


The Bottom Line

I’m pretty sure the Covid-19 pandemic has taught many critical lessons to businesses in the past one year. Sadly, as I write, Coronavirus is still a threat and there is no sign of slowing down in Malaysia.

As a result, companies need to always have a contingency plan just in case a full lockdown similar to MCO 1.0 is necessary. From digital marketing to business and career, you can make a change to decide the future for yourself.

Stay safe, practise social distancing and continue to innovate your digital marketing campaigns according to the latest trend. Vaccination seems like the turning point where everything might return to normalcy, but only time will tell.

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