Napoleon, Pandemics and Competition
In 1809, a British military expedition of 40,000 soldiers was sent to Walcheren in the Netherlands to defeat Napoleon’s troops. After a few light skirmishes, the French army evacuated and left the British occupiers to themselves. After a few weeks the British began to get sick with “Walcheren Fever.” Soon over 4,000 British soldiers were dead and 12,000 were too sick to continue. The competition for Walcheren was less about the French army and more about the fever.
On June 24, 1812 Napoleon’s French army of 685,000 soldiers invaded Russia. Over the next six months the French army won a long series of bloody battles. Although winning nearly all the battles the French army still found itself in deep trouble. The cold and wet of autumn and winter destroyed them. They were forced to retreat back to France with only 27,000 out of the original 685,000 soldiers left. Historians say that Napoleon didn’t lose to the Russian generals, rather to the weather.
Napoleon mistakenly thought Russian army was the true competition. Today, during the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses must also understand the true nature and source of their competition. Recognizing that the pandemic, pandemic related economic impact, and the pandemic inspired behavioral changes of consumers are the sources of our competition today is critical for us to respond appropriately.
If the pandemic and its impact on customers is the true competition of 2020, how might your company’s business plan need adjusting?