The dos and don’ts brands need to follow when communicating with consumers, reveals Gill
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. Anmol Gill, head of customer marketing, Bacardi India, talks about how brands can remain pertinent in the time of Covid-19. (Edited excerpts)
On the marketing strategy brands should follow to remain relevant
Keeping consumers at the heart of everything they do — Be it products, campaigns, distribution or communications, this remains fundamental given the ongoing times. Now, more than ever, it is important to listen to our consumers, anticipate their needs and remain agile in providing them with disruptive solutions.
Brands need to focus on assuring consumers that the quality of their products or services, as well as the experiences and engagement they deliver, remain consistent, albeit through innovative and alternate channels. For instance, we realised our consumers were missing their weekend gigs and cocktail sessions with their friends. Therefore, we introduced a virtual version of our flagship festival Bacardi NH7 Weekender called #HappyAtHome. We also brought our on-ground experience by DEWAR’S Scotch, The Doers’ Club, to the digital space, in a DIY Home edition, as consumers were looking for culinary experiences at home. As a brand inherent to these experiences, the onus was on us to keep bringing them these moments, even during these challenging times.
Lastly, while this is a period of uncertainty, brands should be open to trying out different formats and tools, to understand what consumers connect with the most. This agility to evolve and experiment is a priority for marketers right now.
On the dos and don’ts brands need to follow when communicating with consumers
Brands need to stay on top of the trends and changing consumer needs. For instance, currently consumers are looking for safe ways to have home celebrations, enjoy a festival or partake in virtual experiences. Content or ideas that will help them host these DIY celebrations in the most fun, creative and safe way possible will stand out. In keeping up with these trends, it’s also essential to participate in conversations that the brand organically fits into and one where it has a strong connect.
Additionally, being empathetic to the consumers’ needs and concerns while driving solutions through various communications channels helps address the challenges they’re facing compassionately.
In the course of this communication, we need to take care not to overwhelm our consumers with multiple messages at the same time. Focusing on a single, strong brand message is a better way to build lasting consumer engagement.
On the periodicity of the conversation
Brands need to consistently communicate and focus their messages/content on what they stand for – their values. Consumers are watching their favourite brands more closely than ever before; therefore highlighting your beliefs and assuring them of your support is imperative.
At the same time, brands should render a two-way engagement model where consumers have a chance to express themselves and be a part of the campaigns in some way. While it is essential to keep this communication frequent, it’s imperative to keep your conversations focused, highlighting your awareness of consumer needs and meeting them in the best way possible.
On how to maintain trust with consumers
Remaining authentic and transparent with consumers is the way to build lasting trust. Consumers identify with and have a stronger affinity towards brands who acknowledge the gravity of the situation and what it means for their business as well as consumers.
They also look up to brands who don’t shy away from helping other communities that have been affected by this crisis. It is crucial to be a brand that symbolizes more than a product, to build a deeper consumer relationship and a stronger brand equity.
On looking after employees as they are also representatives of the brand
At this time, companies need to bear in mind that employees not only need to be upskilled, but also require guidance and support on how to manoeuvre certain familial and personal needs. Cultural leaders also need to understand that sometimes employees may have challenges or needs that require external support.
It should be a goal for all companies to be a support system that will see their employees through this crisis, to aid them professionally and even more importantly, acknowledge and aid their personal and emotional needs, in whatever manner possible.
On communicating with consumers post COVID-19
Even as we all anxiously hope for the crisis to simmer down, there is no denying that the post-Covid world will not be the same. Brands and marketers need to keep this reality at the forefront as they develop their strategy for the coming months ahead.
Data will play a huge role in helping us understand the experiences and products we must retain and the ones that must evolve. Promises of safety, equality and accessibility, are now aspects that brands will have to consider and build on.
In addition, without a doubt, being digitally present and even more so, relevant in a massive crowd of virtual experiences, is going to be the marketing challenge of the decade. One fundamental requirement, though, would be to ensure your brand brings a little more hope, optimism and excitement to what may come to be the most challenging era of our time.