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How brands can survive and emerge from these tough times

A study by Kantar Global highlights that 77% of respondents expect their brands to be helpful in what has become “the new everyday life”

How brands can survive and emerge from these tough times
Brands should rework their marketing strategies to focus on long-term brand building within the limitations of the current climate

By Ambika Sharma

These are unprecedented times. Life has come to a standstill; well, business certainly has. It is also a time for brands to rejuvenate their relationship with consumers. As the saying goes, ‘you may skip someone’s celebration, but you cannot skip a funeral’. Thought leaders in the world of brands have made the effort to share the sadness with those they care about and make their lives easier.

A study by Kantar Global highlights that 77% of respondents expect their brands to be helpful in what has become “the new everyday life”. Only 8% feel brands should stop advertising.

Businesses, brands and consumers are having to quickly learn the new way to operate in the coming months and thereafter. Consumption patterns have been disrupted by the lockdown. Work from home and isolation have resulted in new online behavioural shifts, which are beginning to take shape.

One thing is clear: those who acclimatise and innovate to make the best of a bad situation are the ones who will come out on top. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not about opportunism, but a synergy between consumers, who are starved for engagement, and the brand that they love. Live sports and movie releases have been put on hold; events have been cancelled; no walks or parties; work from home is adding to the isolation and cabin fever is setting in.

Adapt, rework

Isolation has resulted in increased daytime viewing, consumption of video content online and social media, especially online communities like Facebook groups. Advertising costs on social media have dipped, DIY content is exploding, as people have moved to hobbies to keep themselves engaged, OTT is booming, while conferencing apps have seen increased usage.

Brands should rework their marketing strategies to focus on long-term brand building within the limitations of the current climate. They should also shift strategies to follow new media consumption patterns.

Content marketing becomes important as people are turning to online communities looking for support and a semblance of normalcy amid the pandemic. Social media has seen a 61% increase in engagement. At such a time, turning brand marketing into meaningful community support will find long-term value. This is the right time to rejuvenate the online community you support or even form a new one. Digital events, virtual parties, teaching a skill, supporting brand hobbyists online, gamification, filters, DIY content — whatever be your space, know that going dark is not the prudent step.

Getting future ready

The lock down has brought war protocols to the forefront. With campaigns stopped mid-track, budgets unspent due to cancelled events and sponsorships, advertising production stalled, sales coming to a standstill and marketing plans being recalibrated, it has all come down to planning for the future.

When we beat the virus (which we will, it’s a matter of time), there will be a rush to reclaim our lives, for people and brands alike. Those who are better planned will gain with a faster, more relevant go-to-market strategy — one that takes into account the consumer behaviour shifts during the lockdown.

This is the time to work on the basics: get the SEO in order, revamp the brand website, get those landing pages optimised and live, the sales tools and calculators for your teams, and focus on community building. If partners, agencies and production companies are on the same page, much can be achieved from the safety of wherever they are.

The author is founder and MD, Pulp Strategy

Read Also: V-Mart’s Samir Misra on life beyond work

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First published on: 17-04-2020 at 08:21 IST