Combine the virtual with the digital to emerge stronger from the crisis

Conversation with Antonio Franceschini, Secretary General of CNA Federmoda


How has the crisis affected the fashion market?

A survey recently carried out by CNA on a sample of about 14,000 Italian companies, highlights the significant impact the coronavirus cyclone will have on companies, with 2020 ending in a 42% drop in turnover. Tourism (-66.3%), fashion (-56.7%) and commerce (-54%) will be among the most affected sectors.  

The crisis caused by the health emergency led to a significant use of social safety nets, which affected 69.3% of companies with employees. Despite the measures put in place, many companies registered great difficulty on the liquidity front. About 95% of the companies applying for the loan are still waiting for a response. Thirty percent of respondents were in favour of the measures implemented regarding the moratorium on financing and social safety nets. One in two companies resorted to the suspension of tax and social security contributions and only 50% of the entities that applied for the moratorium on financing received a positive response. For over 50% of respondents, the worsening of economic results is the result of considerable contraction in the demand for goods and services; for 15%, it is a consequence of the increase in costs to ensure security measures. Investments will be needed for the relaunch and, among these, safety is cited by 77.9% of the sample of respondents.


Would you say we will try to go back to normal as quickly as possible or do you think we will need to rethink the world post-COVID-19?

Most analysts and observers imagine that COVID-19 will leave indelible traces in consumer habits, leading to more sustainable consumption. Undoubtedly, we will have to face a period of adaptation and those who do not know how to make sense of the changes may no longer perform well.

Some sectors (probably tourism and leisure) will be the most affected but we can also see that there has been development in unexpected areas. E-commerce, remote meeting facilities and hygiene products have seen an increase in demand that will certainly continue. We also need to consider the speed of the recovery and planning for tomorrow in order to emerge from the crisis even stronger than before by, for example, encouraging new skills training for employees.

For years, the social media and online winners have been those who have understood that it is necessary to be at the service of the user by offering what is asked and not what you want to impose. User experience plays a huge role in the conversion and conservation, and those who know how to combine the virtual with the digital will increasingly perform well.


What has the crisis changed for you or what have you learned personally?

Commitment and reputation will increasingly be strategic factors; most likely we will see more social-oriented generations. Therefore conveying messages of values ​combined with concepts like Made in Italy, the quality combined with a high rate of creativity, strong territorial roots and work ethic will be very important.

I don’t expect that this emergency will have tangible long term effects on our relationships or way of being. Over the next few months, we will certainly be engaged in constructing very different scenarios but eventually we will return to established patterns.

In this sense I agree with the French writer Michel Houellebecq who recently said, “We will not wake up after the lockdown in a new world; it will be the same, just a bit worse."