Digital platforms and tools are empowering brands to open new channels and broaden their customer reach, says Iyer
Anushka Iyer, founder and CEO, Wiggles.in
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. Anushka Iyer, founder and CEO, Wiggles.in, 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 ‘New Normal’ has been an eye opener for most pet parents as they have realised the joys of spending quality time with their pets during the lockdown and the ‘work from home’ diktat. Stress levels have gone down as playtime with pets has increased. More people have brought home a pet or adopted one due to social isolation. Multiple digital options have been revisited through websites and applications to ensure that pets get the best of food, veterinary and grooming services along with new products that have hit the petcare market to tackle the Covid-19 scenario. The pandemic has isolated the world but it has got us closer to our loved ones and most importantly our pets and to value all the things that we take for granted, mainly our health along with our pets. As we storm the pandemic together and try to keep the ship from overturning, these are a few observations which have helped brands face the new normal.
Digitally Strong: Brands have learnt the power of the digital space and this has boosted online sales of most pet care products during the pandemic as supply chains have taken a beating on ground. Logistics and operations have done a pivot as most pet parents are now ready to shell out more out of their pockets for a product that fits their pet’s healthcare needs without compromising on quality or nutrition. Pet parents are able to receive online vet consultations and behavioral sessions for their pets at the tap of a button till the vet arrives home at the doorstep. As we embrace the new normal, it is all about creating a customer journey from the very first click to creating a lasting impression, which will in turn create brand advocacy. Consumers want everything in a click, and brands need to shift their focus on convenience and ease of use, now more than ever before.
Transparency in Labels and Innovative Products: D2C brands have come up with innovative products and product labels which are honest, direct and completely transparent when it comes to showcasing what they stand for. Brands are now open and vocal about the reason why one ingredient works better than the other. This has made brands come up with product ranges which are organic, herbal and hence they are trying to push the envelope with Hemp Seed Oil based products as well as CBD Oil which work wonders on a pet’s health.
Brand strategy remains uniform across verticals: Every brand has adopted a different strategy when it comes to showcasing their product. The content strategy on platforms such as Instagram, and groups on Facebook has become more relatable in terms of the cuteness factor associated with pets along with informative content which a pet parent will save for future reference. Negative feedback is not being swept under the carpet but is being reflected upon and solutions are being given in real-time. Every comment, every query is being answered to with equal fervour. Making your brand communication online and offline strong with content that is helpful, humorous, informative and focussed to its cause is what is making 50 more consumers look up to you for new product launches and discount updates. More saves and shares are driving traffic to the website. All this is contributing towards brand awareness and sales.
On the gradual return of the business – how much of it is restored and the new trends which can be spotted compared to pre-Covid times
Most petcare brands grew multifold during the pandemic. Doorstep healthcare was easy, convenient and safe, resulting in high demand. 24/7 community support reassured pet parents that the brand had their back at all times by helping pet parents connect with experts. Booking an appointment for grooming, veterinary services or for vaccinations has increased 10x as compared to before so as to avoid tedious trips to vet clinics and pet salons to avoid catching the virus and abstain from social contact. Operations have been revamped to ensure that medicines and pet wellness products reach the pet parent on time with same day contactless delivery. Most pet parents are heading back to the office and are boarding their pets at dog boardings which have state-of the art facilities such as a swimming pool, pet gym, 24X7 Vetcare and Grooming facilities along with food and AC boarding, ensuring pets are treated like royalty. This has seen an upsurge from pre-Covid-19 times. Night-time veterinary services have been added to ensure that pets receive medical treatment in time for emergencies such as seizures, poisoning, vomiting or pain due to injuries. More pet parents are hopping on to online brand-led communities and groups which are creating awareness through informative content and also where their doubts and questions are being answered by qualified veterinarians. Business is slowly trickling back to normal as new product categories are being launched to match the new normal.
On how brands can create at-home meaningful experiences for consumers
What makes a consumer follow you on social media and absorb all the content that you dish out? What makes a consumer trust your brand when there are thousands of other brands vying for their attention? What makes you different but approachable at the same time without coming across as condescending. Post-Covid consumers are more concerned about the health of their family members, pets included. How do you go about creating meaningful experiences for your consumers? You keep your ears to the ground, listen, learn and understand their pain points, don’t feed them jargon, give them nothing but the honest truth about how your products provide value, how your services make things hassle-free and easy for them to function in their day to day life. Brand advocacy, crafting wonderful user experiences by hand-holding the customer in the initial stages till he is able to move on his own and strengthening the relationship, the motto being to serve first and not sell at the first opportunity. The point being, let the customer feel valued and not just till they pay for their purchases in the shopping cart but till the time they learn to trust you enough to refer you to many more customers.
On the contribution of online versus offline outlets and how brands can make the most of the shift towards digital
We are in a digital era, wherein brands are leaning towards creating good customer experiences online so the feeling is the same as shopping in a brick and mortar. Ease of use and accessibility are at the top of the shopping experience along with expecting everything right at your doorstep with the tap of a button. Brands are making their products not just accessible to the end user but also offering hefty discounts, giveaways and ensuring that no carts are abandoned midway or no consumer goes back empty-handed. What if you were able to control your consumer’s experience, now more than ever and brands were able to completely own their relationship with the customers. Digital platforms and tools are empowering brands to open new channels and broaden their customer reach; driving increased revenue streams, profits, and financial performance. Data analytics has taken a whole new turn and helps to analyse customer insights and figure out their needs and wants. A digital direct approach from the start will allow emerging brands to test various pricing options and SKUs to better determine the ‘sweet spot’ for conversion and profitability. Emerging brands can adjust prices as necessary so as to retain their entire margin. It is important that emerging brands work with traditional channels to understand offline challenges.
On how your category has evolved and the steps to be undertaken by brands to connect within Tier 2, 3, 4 markets and beyond
India is soon turning into the fastest growing petcare market. The pet care market in India is expected to grow at 14% annually to become a $490 million market by 2022 as per Petex India’ 21. As far as expanding markets across the country , Tier 1 cities mainly, Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru have contributed significantly towards sales for pet products due to more awareness and increasing number of pet adoptions. Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities are opening up to ordering online from their favorite brands although the traditional buying scenario still holds ground with consumers asking their vets for the best options to buy from. However, the shift is indeed happening. Multilingual marketing helps in deepening relationships with cities as it resonates with consumers much more. Going that extra mile and ensuring that your product is available at every nook and corner with its packaging intact is definitely a challenge but that’s what is identifying the real from the flak.