Are you ready for starvation mode? It’s what our bodies do when resources get scarce. And it will be what our economies do when the recession hits.
Biologists call it adaptive thermogenesis: Our body is able to react on both over- and undersupply of food. When the nutrition intake is reduced, the metabolism uses existing reserves (like fat), and/or it reduces the energy expenditure (like in hibernation), and/or it makes more efficient use of the fewer nutrients arriving.
This ability to adapt to harsh conditions was a powerful tool throughout evolution. Starvation mode helped our species to survive even the worst of times. And as an evolutionary selection criterion, it is hardwired in our genes.
That made it a problem for a more recent human task: losing weight. When you start a diet, you are sending a crisis signal to the brain – brace yourself for food scarcity! And it starts to find a solution for the sudden loss of resources: starvation mode. Heartbeat slows down, blood pressure and body temperature drop, the digestive tract leaves no calorie behind.
The looming recession calls for adaptation. And adaptation it will get.
Now economies all around the world are experiencing a loss of resources second only to those in wartime periods. Dozens of millions of jobs lost in the USA; dozens of millions of jobs hibernating in retention schemes in Europe; a second quarter with double-digit GDP losses even in (for now) less virus-affected countries like India. Economies and societies and industries and companies now all face the same question: How to get along with fewer resources? The looming recession calls for adaptation. And adaptation it will get. That’s what starvation mode is made for.
In business, it works more or less the same way as in biology: consuming reserves, reducing energy expenditure, making better use of scarcer resources. To put it shorter: Efficiency rules! It keeps the output as close to the pre-crisis level as possible, with the lowest possible resource consumption.
Isn’t this what economy means? Shouldn’t efficiency rule anyway? Perhaps it should – but usually it doesn’t. At least in the richer parts of the world, economy is less about reducing resource consumption, and it is more about increasing output, revenue, profit. It is about siphoning off purchasing power via tools like branding, lifestyle, marketing. Or Chichi. It’s a kind of luxury metabolism: profitable, yes, most of the times – but not efficient. So not sustainable when the going gets tough.
The shortest possible answer: B2B
Let´s give it a name. A name that sounds more economic than “starvation mode” or “adaptive thermogenesis”. We do not even have to invent this name – it´s already there. With only 3 characters it is the shortest possible answer to the recession challenges: B2B. Business to Business. Because starvation mode in the global economy means a sudden shift towards the virtues of B2B markets: efficient use of resources, optimized price-performance ratio.
Maybe you doubt our impartiality, but: The virtues needed to get through today’s hell and to tomorrow’s next normal are the virtues of B2B services. Of absolutely non-BS industries like, erm, intralogistics.