Over the next few months, marketers must anticipate future changes in consumer behavior and adapt their plans likewise
By Jaganathan Chelliah
With markets re-opening – albeit in a phased manner – businesses are trying to quickly get back on their feet. Along the road to recovery, some of the pressing questions that need to be addressed include how to improve the cash flow cycle; bring customers back to e-tail and retail; manage product planning and distribution cycles; and tailor a safe and healthy brand experience.
Over the next few months, marketers must anticipate future changes in consumer behavior and adapt their plans likewise. It’s quite possible we are looking at a permanent behavioral shift among consumers, both in terms of attitude towards a product category and consumption patterns. This comes against the backdrop of the consumer mindset transitioning from spending to saving and luxury to necessity, as they grapple with the new reality of living with the pandemic. Take for instance, the consumer technology industry – one can observe a clear shift in consumer preferences, from aspirational products to household necessities.
Therefore, organizations need to rethink and remodel their ‘Go to Market’ strategy while continuing with efforts to build as well as strengthen brand integrity and trust in these challenging times.
Here are a few points marketers should consider while rebuilding the marketing strategy:
Understand the current customer psyche with respect to your category:
How critical and relevant is your brand offering to the consumer in the current environment? The cues to building your marketing strategy and the levers for restoring the growth engine lie in the answer to this important question.
Play to the strengths of your brand:
Every brand adds value to society – hence, it is always good to highlight the strengths of your brand. For example, at Western Digital, we are driving innovation in capturing, preserving, accessing and transforming an ever-increasing diversity of data. The importance of data and the need to store it safely has increased in the current context of #workfromhome, #studyathome, and #playaparttogether.
Find a middle ground between brand and performance marketing:
The situation demands that marketers shift their focus from performance marketing to the softer aspects of their brand to earn the trust of the consumer. However, a balance needs to be maintained as it is equally important to drive demand for products and revive the business at the earliest.
Give customers an opportunity to interact with the brand:
Use social media handles effectively to initiate meaningful conversations with customers through engaging activities. In addition, companies can use these handles to provide opportunities to de-stress with gamified brand experiences, thereby creating a positive impression for the brand. Minimize sales-led initiatives on social media platforms and cultivate the right image with caring, timely and positive messages.
Change the way brand stories are told:
Irrespective of market conditions, the brand remains the same and so does the brand story. However, contextual marketing is the need of the hour. Brand stories need to be told in a way that touch a chord with the current mental state of the target audience. Leverage on PR to create the right messaging to connect with consumers and amplify it across media channels.
Assess the media mix to be implemented:
It’s obvious that digital media will continue to be the lead marketing vehicle for the next six months. However, as markets re-open, traditional media will slowly be back in action. Hence, going forward, marketers will need to define the right media mix for maximizing the ROI.
Sharpen your digital commerce approach:
Customers who have experienced e-commerce for the first time will continue to experiment with both traditional and digital modes of purchase. However, consumers who were using both online and offline platforms in pre-pandemic times will make a decisive shift towards digital commerce. Your marketplace strategy with the e-commerce majors will play a critical role in reviving demand for your products.
Keep the retail partner ecosystem afloat:
Take the lead in providing them with digital tools to interact with their customers; show them how to use digital commerce for business continuity as well as digital marketing to increase consumer reach. Social media platforms will play a critical role as retailers start engaging with customers in these online spaces owing to restrictions on physical interactions.
Be smart, be agile:
With each passing day, consumers are altering their mind map on a real-time basis. No one could possibly claim to know what the ‘new normal’ is. Agility in cracking the right marketing mix and deciphering the appeal to the consumer’s buying mindset will hold the key to strengthening a brand’s marketing strategy. My playbook will be to live by the week for the next three months, absorb the emerging trends, and plan for the festive season push.
The author is director marketing – Western Digital, India