The new normals in a world where Covid-19, unfortunately, is becoming a part of our life will bring about many changes in the way businesses will be conducted, and more importantly, the way we live our life.
The nation-wide lockdown is slowly being lifted across orange and green zones and life is slowly crawling back to a new-normalcy. Businesses and brands are now are making their way back into the business; planning their communication plans for a new world post the covid-19 lockdown, keeping a note of some of the new buzz words such as ‘social distancing’, ‘work from home’ and the latest one; ‘atmanirbhar’.
In this story of Medianews4u’s new brand series, Back to Business, we spoke to Vinod Kumar Gupta, Managing Director, Dollar Industries Limited.
How are you coping with the impact of Covid-19 on your brand & the Organization? How effectively have you used the lock-down period?
Most of the organizations in the country, except for essential services, was majorly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown. Despite being a basic necessity and clothing need for the human race, our segment witnessed severe impacts. Due to the imposed lockdown, most of our retail outlets were closed; therefore sales were not coming through brick and mortar stores. Additionally, even online sales were restricted across e-commerce platforms. Therefore, we had to patiently wait for the lockdown to be eased and operations to resume to normalcy.
During the lockdown, we ventured into manufacturing masks, which was useful for our consumers. It was made from cotton knitwear and was an extremely comfortable material.
During the crisis, migrant workers were also stranded in our manufacturing units. We provided them with shelter, food and basic essentials during the lockdown phase.
We also explored the CSR route to do our bit for the society. With the help of Kolkata Police, we distributed food grains and other eatables products to the people in need. The activity was done keeping the social distancing rule in mind and with utmost precaution.
The quest for a solution to a particular crisis helps invent new business opportunities and sometimes leads to a revision of existing business models … What sort of innovation has or will the Covid-19 pandemic bring to your brand & industry?
For us, being into the cotton clothing and knitwear segment, the first thing we ventured into during the lockdown was mask manufacturing. Though it is not a commercial product as of now, we have produced enough to be distributed to our channel partners, employees and close associates. We have used the best quality fabrics just as well use it in our other products.
At Dollar, we are constantly innovating and we utilized the given opportunity for our first ever digital re-branding activity. The rebranding exercise was pre-planned and was put on hold post the lockdown was imposed. On May 28th, 2020, we hosted a webinar and e-launched our new brand logo and architecture with our brand ambassador, Mr. Akshay Kumar. The e-launch was a well calculated move to communicate our revamped identity and our new brand vision ‘Wear the Change’ to our consumers and stakeholders.
Additionally, the lockdown and the social distancing norm made it impossible for people to visit offline stores. Therefore, we focused on online sales through our website and e-commerce portals. This proved to be a successful and promising move for the brand. Post the re-branding, we have witnessed a 4X growth in our sales.
While some parts of the country have become Covid-19 free, cities like Mumbai and Delhi are still in a lock-down situation. How are you planning to resume business across cities that are not in the Red?
Our business is spread across the country and is very relatable to the masses. A large part of our consumer base is in smaller towns and cities, unlike cities that are more brand savvy. Since, rural Indian constitutes of the 70% of the entire population, our sales have also resumed post the lockdown being eased.
Mumbai and Delhi are some of our key markets as well. Since the situation is critical in these cities, we can just wait for it to resume to normal. We are abiding by the Govt. of India’s rules and regulations, and are hopeful that the sales will pick up in these cities too once the lockdown is eased further.
What will be your communication strategy post the opening of the lock-down? Understandably bringing customers back to you would be difficult… What will be the objective of the communication/marketing strategy?
During the lockdown, we e-launched our new brand architecture along with our new logo. Post our re-branding exercise, we opted for various mediums to communicate our revamped identity to our consumers and stakeholders. For the same, we particularly explored the potentials of digital and television platforms. Since, the lockdown in still prevailing across parts of the country, television and digital garners most of the tractions.
Despite the lockdown, Dollar Industries Ltd. opted for 360 degree approach and clubbed OOH campaigns as well. Our robust OOH campaign was concluded within a span of 21 days across 800 outdoor sites in the country.
As and when the lockdown restrictions are eased, we will also endorse our product portfolio at a later stage. We will continue to focus on digital exposure alongside TV and print.
How did you keep the morale of the employees during this lockdown period? On a personal note, what kept you positive?
At Dollar, we did not impose any layoffs. Instead, we limited our marketing spends. We made sure that we constantly motivate them to take care of themselves and their families, while they worked from home. Additionally, our workers that were stuck at the manufacturing units were taken care of. They were provided with lodging and basic necessities alongside their monthly wages.
Our HR heads have circulated internal Covid-19 guidelines for all our employees across corporate offices, factories, contractual labors, visitors, etc. We are following important guidelines and are maintaining safety & hygiene.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to bring the business back on track or at least get it in the right direction and also create demand for yourself?
Since our sector is next to essential goods, there is a constant demand of products. However, we have to ensure proper transportation and supply chain management as soon as lockdown and restrictions are lifted.
Can you elaborate on the overview of your industry?
Knitwear and innerwear will always have an on-going demand. As an industry, survival is assured. However, sales growth has been impacted and will be slow for some time. The purchase quantity will be impacted.
Infact, with the ‘work from home’ culture, we have witnessed an increase in demand for athleisure and comfortable clothes. So there are various opportunities for the sector.