This global pandemic has affected every business in some way or another. There is a pertinent second order effect in the market. This puts a definite question to brands that how they see this, as a threat or an opportunity? Covid 19 posed a challenge to both buyers and consumers, and now brands have to manage how demand meets supply.
The pandemic has affected consumer psychology, and there is a major shift in their buying behavior and media consumption. The change in expenditure pattern of consumers has led to the change in the expenditure pattern of brands also. Consumers have increased spending more on essentials like health, hygiene and grocery products. Planned investment or expenditure has been put on hold as they are prioritizing to cut cost. They have become picky and evaluative. Due to this move, brands now have to transform themselves and adapt to the situation accordingly.
The challenges that the market is facing are inevitable, but aren’t intractable. Brands need to have a proactive approach. As a brand you cannot afford to play from the back foot, when competition is intense and consumers are holding back. You want to be heard and seen.
Being a non-essential product/service brand, you may find it challenging to keep up. There is the huge drop in profits of brands like fashion and automobiles. But you can do wonders with marketing. So here are the few measures you can take to sustain effectively.
The strategic move: Don't put a break in your marketing and advertising, even if you do not belong to an essential product/services category. You must restrategize to your plan of action as per the new normal. Re-think about your brand’s architecture and reshape your vision. Question yourself with, How relevant is your strategy? Do you want to keep investing in it or want to pivot? For instance, Haier focused on virtual shop experience for customers visiting their online platforms.
Marketing for the long run: You may restructure your budget but don't stop your marketing completely until you are forced by your budgets, for survival and salaries. You still have an audience to consume your content. You don’t have to go for a massive advertising, but keep reminding and updating your audience with your campaigns and initiatives. Since most of your users are staying inside, brands must use this as an opportunity to be vocal. Asian paints did a good job with its recent “har ghar kuch kehta hai '' campaign, without being an essential product category. The visibility and engagement you create now, will keep engaging your consumers. Do your marketing for a long-term impact, keeping in mind your short-term goals.
Go for effective mediums: Recent trends have shown that the digital space is really crowded and advertising via online platforms proved immensely useful. So, understand where you will find your audience and how that medium suits your pocket. Don't go for print, broadcast or expensive websites if it doesn't go with your budget. Look at other really cheap and effective mediums like WhatsApp marketing, OTT, games, videos and referral sales. You can collaborate with macro and micro influencers, and use social media efficiently. Many big and luxury brands are opting for digital campaigns.
Grab the opportunity: It's a good time to restrategize as you have all the time you ever wanted. Analyze data vis a vis the new normal and see if your product/services need some allocation? You may experiment with your brand image, with your advertising appeal and even add something to your product category. Even a cosmetic brand like LÓreal faced a global dip of 13% in profit, and chose to go “phy-gital.
Revamp it: Brand revamps, repackaging and restrategizing your product and brand marketing may prove to be a good investment to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. This can help you when your product is less in need than before. Rebranding can help you with a new vision, a new identity and also a new target group.
Don’t underrate your local shops: Though it is widely believed that people would buy more from online, your neighborhood Kirana is doing good business. Capture the audience and eyeballs using them. Target your local audience. You clearly don't want the absence of products, when your consumers need them.
If you are in essential products/services, bingo!! It's your time throughout the year. Don't spend it in a rush and don't over do it. Plan and strategize it well. As consumer's buying behavior, pattern, priorities, and methods have changed big time, you must plan accordingly.
Media mix: Develop a good media mix to leverage from across the platforms and create a noticeable communication footprint. Get the best of the media when it's cheap and clutter-free. Print, Broadcast, Outdoor, Transit (app-based cabs) , Games and Digital media would help you leverage from each spend and exposure. Choose wisely what you want. It's a win-win situation for both small and big brands.
Do not hurry: Think before you advertise. Don't become a me too brand looking desperate to encash the opportunity. You will never have a lasting relationship with the consumer. While there is a rush in demand, intelligent brands will use this opportunity to build a relationship for times to come.Take baby steps, if required. Focus on your business objectives.
Work on packaging: Use your packaging well for smarter communication. If need be redesign the packaging or add a temporary sleeve/sticker. Swiggy introduced double layer packaging to ensure the consumer’s safety. On the other hand, grocery brands like nature’s basket are switching to single use paper bags from cloth bags for easy disposals.
Play on USP: Develop a meaningful product differentiator. Almost everybody big or small who could think and manage has gotten in hand/surface sanitizers. But only a handful of them thought of easy application, portability, easy storage and wastage control.
Maintain standards: Don't force-fit one of the sought-after benefits into your product. How can Lifebuoy hand wash improve your immune system, as it claims on its packaging? Don't just sell, take care of the entire consumer life cycle and the sales funnel.
Irrespective of whether you belong to an essential or nonessential product/services category brand, it is very essential to ensure you are available to customers when they want it. Check your delivery logistics. Local retail has proven to be more effective during this crisis time. Home delivery by local retail has proved profitable, even in the tier three cities. Credit facilities work wonders while most of the "e-tail" platforms still struggle with their delivery logistics, ever-changing dates of delivery and "product not available" challenges.
These are the few perspectives and strategies that brands can adopt to run their marketing process smoothly in pandemic. It’s time for brands to shine during this pandemic instead of holding back. They must not be scared to experiment with their message. It would be interesting to see, what brands have for the upcoming festive season and what kind of approach and campaigns they will come up with.
The major impact of these shifts have happened in digital marketing agencies and performance marketing agencies. The demand for digital outsourcing services has increased rapidly and that is the possible future of industry.