#BackToBusiness: Jaquar Group’s Sandeep Shukla on the strategy that needs to be followed to bounce back

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December 14, 2020 10:01 AM

The new consumer trends being spotted compared to pre Covid times, highlights Shukla

Sandeep Shukla, head – marketing and communication, global operations, Jaquar GroupSandeep Shukla, head – marketing and communication, global operations, Jaquar Group

As brands try to find a sign of semblance post a period of uncertainty, it has become more important than ever to understand and evolve as per changing consumer expectations. From selling goods online to incorporating consumer feedback are some of the ways brands are trying to remain relevant. Sandeep Shukla, head – marketing and communication, global operations, Jaquar Group talks about how brands and agencies can engage with their consumers–

On the playbook, brands and agencies need to adopt in the new normal

The resetting of customer expectations in the new normal has affected the decision making process of marketers across the globe as they revive and build connections with their audiences. Marketing in the post-Covid era or what can be sagely called ‘the next normal’ will revolve around forward planning and anticipating how the consumer will think, act and feel in the coming months. In India, just like anywhere else in the world right now, consumers are now turning to digital trigger points to make purchase decisions and preferring contactless ways of accessing a brand’s character and its bouquet of products.

Brands and their agency partners, both need to proactively gauge and evaluate the real-time market pulse in order to ideate and innovate relevant campaigns that generate the desired intrigue from customers. It is crucial to assess the situation and ensure the way the brand’s marketing moves are projected is backed by empathy, heartfelt storytelling and authenticity to drive lasting relationships.
Brands can build affinity and long-term relationships with customers by engaging through empathy-driven marketing rather than focusing on immediate sales ratification. We are all rebounding from an extremely tough year concurrently which makes collective promotion of enthusiasm and optimism necessary. Therefore the significance of brand communication which is affirmative and uplifting cannot be overlooked.

It is also extremely crucial to create a personalised experience across all mediums of brand communications and customer service/engagement, including usage of the market and customer-care insights that brands and agencies can draw from. This helps provide an edge in creating consumer intimacy /connect. The key to success in the times to come for brands will pivot on multiple facets – an organisation’s culture, an agile approach to respond to changes, integration of insights ahead of any strategic process, creation of personalised experiences for the consumers and lastly customised product and pricing to suit the consumer’s current needs.

On the gradual return of the business – how much of its restored and the new trends which can be spotted compared to pre-Covid times

The legacy of Covid 19 would definitely be teaching the consumer to look at his/her house with a new pair of eyes. Considering the significant role our homes have played during the entire crisis, consumer behaviour towards their own home has changed drastically over the last few months. Home graduated from being a space which we need only at the end of a long day. It became our command center – our office, gym, classroom and playground – everything was re-created inside its confines. This made people start questioning the functionality of their décor choices and interior spaces.

We noticed a radical shift in the way people wished to interact with their homes, a trend which will also impact their future design choices. For instance, the need for different zones for work and play, ability of the spaces to morph into purposeful, hassle free and easy to disinfect social and office spaces, intelligent composition of material choices and products, all these choices would be far more creative and evolved in the post-Covid world. Hygiene has also been at the forefront of the consumer’s minds and this aspect will be a primary driver for choices and preferences in designing and choosing home décor.

Combined with this is the expedited digital migration that we witnessed. Based on the current trend, it is the brand’s priority to ensure that they engage with the consumer through smart interfaces across the home. In our sector which is brick and mortar and relies heavily on face-to-face interaction with the product, we are focusing on seamlessly delivering our message to the consumer online, to ignite two-way discussions in lieu of intrusive marketing push. The shopper journeys require redesigning because people are shopping from their homes and also in a very different state of mind, considering they may resort to browsing the web for a slight break in between their work hours or after work hours.

Today we are working on almost 50-75% capacity and hopefully aim to make that 100% in the near future. The practice of social distancing and safer hygiene is the way we live and operate now on. Hence, ramping up advanced contactless technology products in places of serious footfall and transmission in commercial buildings – airports, hospitals, hotels/restaurants, and shopping malls – is imperative.

On how brands can create at-home meaningful experiences for consumers

Brands must be willing to listen and intelligently tap into their customer’s past experiences and present necessities. The use of digital technology to craft meaningful and long-lasting experiences is the way to go for most brands today.

Today, it is crucial that customers have an unhindered access to brand collaterals and assets without the need for them to visit a physical store. Consumer-focused virtual events and experiential ensure customers can engage with the brand’s product/service with more ease and without the added pressure of physical touch points under the current post-pandemic context. This is where many brands are working toward the creation of effective and well-rounded at-home services that offer complete solutions and an experience the customer wants to revisit.

On the contribution of online versus offline outlets and how brands can make the most of the shift towards digital

Brands have to make sure that the digital infrastructure that they are currently banking upon in these times is extremely robust and immersive. Consumers who had a habit of visiting the offline stores to exactly touch, feel and look at the design should be able to have the same experience recreated for them at home. The online experience should be as immersive and rewarding as the offline one. It’s an opportunity for the brands to take the personalisation and experience to the next level. The details that are put across their websites should be as insightful as it would have been if they were being guided in the store.

In the fast-paced world users are barely reading the complete product specifications, these self-explanatory product walkthrough videos further simplify the whole concept. Digital is definitely the way to get conversation started to get multiple viewpoints, immediate feedback and a medium to keep consumers engaged and updated on all the information.

Needless to say, digital media marketing is playing a crucial role in creating awareness, especially for our sector where customers start from online doing research on brands. In India still the concept of touch and feel exists so the idea is to increase offline product experience with online support. Social media helps us communicate the range, and breadth of offerings, and define the unique feature of each component to induct consumers to the Jaquar Group’s way of life. Geo-targeting has proved to be beneficial to us with much to-do and digital is undoubtedly supporting us to reach the end customer in a faster manner. We generate more than 5 lakh monthly users coming on to the Jaquar website routed through our social media channels.

On how the bath and sanitaryware space has evolved and the steps to be undertaken by brands to connect with Tier 2, 3, 4 markets and beyond

The ‘next normal’ bath spaces will blend existing product design and innovation to shape the future for housebuilders and developers. The bath and sanitaryware design needs of the current times require touchless technologies, optimised hygiene and aesthetic elements. Even before the advent of Covid-19, the wellness requirement of the consumer had shifted. Bath spaces were not considered a functional category, rather it is seen from the lens of one’s personal, indulgent space. We witnessed a new frontier in bathroom design – changing households and rise in multi-generational living, had already helped fuel growth in demand for bath and sanitaryware products. While aesthetics represent a crucial role in designing a new age bathroom, today, consumers are becoming more experiential with their choices. Consumers are now looking for bathroom products which are not merely beautiful to view but are equally capable of delivering an indulgent experience with therapeutic benefits. Buyers across tier 1, 2 and 3 cities are anticipating a change in their prospective homes and view their homes as a safe haven post these tumultuous last few months.

At a time when the pandemic has thrust hygiene into the spotlight, the onus is now on manufacturers, builders and developers to work in tandem to create hygienically-optimised products – solutions and designs that reinforce the perception of a clean, germ-free spaces to increase homebuyer confidence.

Read Also: #BackToBusiness: Wakefit’s Chaitanya Ramalingegowda on the strategy that needs to be followed to bounce back

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