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. Unmisha Bhatt, chief strategy officer and director – India and MENA region, Tonic Worldwide talks about how brands and agencies can engage with their consumers–
On the playbook, brands and agencies need to adopt in the new normal
Brands and agencies globally as well as in India have been agile and flexible and have adapted as per the changing needs of the consumers. The trick for brands and marketers is really to try and be two steps ahead by recognising the consumers’ needs before they themselves do and for agencies, it would be to equip their brand partners with those consumer insights and help them be ahead. Agencies and brands need to learn the art of having foresight.
How does one foresee and predict? The answer lies in digital. It’s no secret that digital today gives you multiple data points and the key is to connect them all to spot emerging trends and shifts in the consumer behaviour. This can enable pivots in products, communication and service.
Make data your best friend, pivot fast and implement. The three key mantras that should be in your playbook.
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
Not just restoration but growth happened to businesses that pivoted fast. They have seen a surge in demand and actually witnessed a growth story. The secret sauce? Some of them came up with D2C brands, some retail dependent brands like Marico, ITC etc. built a direct channel between the company and consumers, while some came up with product lines that were more relevant and were natural pivots from their line of business.
On the other hand, businesses and brands that took a digital leap also saw faster comebacks. Some were smart to actually open up newer markets with digital scale. However certain categories like hospitality, travel, retail, construction and businesses associated with them are working hard to catch up, however, the recovery will be faster than we imagine it to be with the rise in demand.
Trends come from consumer behaviour in the changing environment and consumers are ready to pay a premium on hygiene, value, convenience which have become a norm. Businesses will have to focus on these and play up their HQ (Hygiene Quotient) as well as CQ (Convenience Quotient) by being available to the consumer from a connected device.
With HQ being top of mind, people prefer travelling in their personal vehicle instead of public transport leading to increase in demand for two wheelers and four wheelers.
Entertainment from home has led to a rise in time spent on digital, increase in OTT content consumption and increase in gaming amongst other things. Brands could leverage these trends not only as placement of ads but also creating content and gaming experiences that deeply integrate the brand or proposition.
E-learning has also seen a surge in demand. Remote working has led to an increase in furniture sales and small changes in lifestyle to adopt a small section of the home as the ‘office’ space.
The blurring lines between home and office, as well as insecurities in the economic downturn has led to increase in mental health issues, thus, leading to brands having the need for a better EQ (Emotional Quotient). Brands that are able to have better EQ will connect with audiences and build long lasting relationships.
Increase in consumption at home has led to increase in e-commerce sales and thus digitisation of businesses has now become a necessity and is no longer a luxury. D2C brands are disrupting traditional models and changing the way businesses are run.
Thus EQ, CQ and HQ are the biggest trends that marketers and advertisers need to adopt.
On how brands can create at-home meaningful experiences for consumers
Creating at – home meaningful experiences will require a change in perspective by brands across the marketing mix. Understanding the evolving needs of the consumers and adopting EQ, CQ and HQ across the marketing mix will enable better experiences.
- Product – Can the product delivered have packaging that enables easy sanitisation? Or a personalised note that gives tips to sanitise and throw the packaging. A small initiative like that would also make consumers feel that the brand cares and lead to a better experience.
Digital deliveries often leads to loss of personal touch that one has while buying offline can add a humanised approach with a personalised note, a follow up call and extended value add after-sales service to make the consumer feel special.
Enabling virtual at home trials or experiences with AR for consumers can also enable a meaningful experience thus boosting the customers’ confidence to buy. Pre-Covid, one of the major trends were ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline). One of the key reasons for the offline purchase was to get the product experience before one buys. Brands can enable these experiences virtually with AR and VR like ‘try on haircolours / lipsticks/ frames, masks etc.
- Pricing – At home experiences with e-com sales has always been a delight with deals and offers running online and this will continue.
- Communication – Communication that is hyper personalised and relevant for consumers like a video which is delivered to the consumer with their name and products basis their preference along with an engaging, interactive storyline will create a meaningful at home experience before the product is even purchased.
On how brands can make the most of the shift towards digital
The answer to this is simple
- Digital should not just be present for vanity. Start with the fundamentals of using digital to scale up your business (expand your presence / open up new markets or open up new consumers with digital )
- Digital should not be treated as the step-child in the share of the marketing budgets of brands.
- Most important, don’t go back to the non digital ways of working post the pandemic.