At a time when everyone is trying to look beyond the pandemic called Covid-19, communication needs to be crafted carefully by brands. From creating awareness to showing empathy – are some of the ways brands can remain relevant. Ajay Khanna, CMO, Amway India talks about how brands can remain pertinent in the time of Covid-19. (Edited excerpts)
On what is the marketing strategy brands should follow to remain relevant
As offline becomes the new online, brands have a greater responsibility than ever to spread positivity for their consumers through ‘responsible marketing’. This is the time for us to release old practices, restart, recoup and re-look at our marketing strategies to resonate better with our consumers.
In the context of nutrition and wellness, brands today are experiencing a never-before-seen inflection point. We believe in authentic and candid communication aimed at making lives healthier, engaging and purposeful. To keep up with the evolving needs of the consumers, one needs to be closer to the audience more than ever. Customers today want a relationship with the companies with whom they do business and to go beyond the transaction to a more engaging, human place. Focus on strengthening your relationship with your customers but for reasons that are genuine and thoughtful, ask how they are doing, exchange life stories of caution and triumph. Tailor messages to be consumer-focused top-of-mind, as most are shopping in the moment of fear and anxiety. Ask, is your message relevant now, today, and tomorrow? Step back from the hard sell and provide messaging that reaffirms your commitment to be there over the long term and through thick and thin. To be at the forefront, as a brand, regular empathetic communication will play a crucial role in the future to reassure consumers about a positive, better tomorrow.
On the dos and don’ts brands need to follow when communicating with consumers
The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the consumers and their expectations and engagements with brands. Here are a few simple dos and don’ts that brands can follow while listening, learning and reassessing their communication and marketing strategies:
- Shelve the ‘hard sell.’ COVID-19 is a global pandemic. Be empathetic and reaffirm your commitment to be there over the long term and through thick and thin.
- Connect and engage. As social distancing becomes the norm, help the consumers stay connected through online community platforms catering to their passions such as fitness, beauty, lifestyle etc.
- Educate, not promote. Today, the onus lies on the brands to educate consumers on inculcating hygiene practices, adopting holistic healthcare and leading a consciously healthy life. As nutrition and wellness gain significant momentum, this will further help strengthen brand connect
- Online is the new offline. With the sheer amount of time spent online, today, brands have even greater responsibility towards enhancing and customizing their online experiences while communicating regularly.
- Use candid, simple and unconventional messaging. If you can simply communicate how your products and services address a real consumer issue, then you will spontaneously make it into their preferred list
On the periodicity of the conversation
I believe consistent and transparent communication builds confidence among consumers, a strong attribute that needs to be reinforced by brands in the current times. If you do not already have a regular cadence of communication to your customers, now is the time to build one.
On how to maintain trust with consumers
A recent report suggests that the Indian consumers expect brands to be with them and help them navigate tough times, as 79% of people believe that the brands should show how they can be helpful in this new everyday life (source: Karvy insights). This clearly demonstrates that customers today want a relationship with the brand, which goes beyond just the transaction to a more engaging, human place.
In these times, every interaction with the consumers is an opportunity to showcase what your brand and product are all about. Brands in the nutrition and wellness space, especially, can build trust by offering much cleaner and simpler labels with stronger traceability and sustainability stories. They can connect with their discerning consumers on safety, quality, and authenticity aspects of a product, to build trust and recall.
While memorable and relevant marketing campaigns might help, exhibiting emotional intelligence while staying relevant to consumers and true to your brand goes a long way to build trust and loyalty amongst the consumers.
On looking after employees as they are also representatives of the brand
The world of work has gone through a major and abrupt reset. We have to build a more collaborative culture where work disruptions are taken into account. It has now become a shared responsibility to create an ecosystem of support that helps everyone deliver their best.
On communicating with consumers post Covid-19
I firmly believe that a new consumer will emerge in the post Covid-19 era, one who is more digitally adept, sustainability and safety conscious and prioritizes nutrition and immunity. Further, deeper digital adoption has also led to the emergence of online communities built on shared passions and interests such as health, fitness, beauty, cooking etc.
As the world embraces the new normal, brands need to be cognizant of the permanent behavioral shift in consumers and their consumption patterns. It will be an exciting opportunity for the brands to help consumers navigate between the online and offline experience journeys seamlessly by experimenting with breakthrough trends such as social commerce. At the same time, brands would need to commit to the continuous process of listening to their audience and be bold enough to reassess their strategies as consumers evolve.