What a dramatic change this Covid19 has brought to our lives, whether it is the business or for us human beings. India went for a complete lockdown beginning March to fight the pandemic. Undoubtedly, all business establishments irrespective of their strength and type of industry have been affected by the recent outbreak of COVID-19 to a great extent.
Businesses, jobs, saw great upheavals, the world also saw a tectonic shift in the way we communicated. The Indian Advertising all through this crisis/ lockdown has been on their feet by innovating new methods of communication for their brands to reach out to their consumers. Brand communication was more empathetic, keeping in mind the sentiments and moods of the consumer in general.
Medianews4u in their series ‘Back to Business’ have spoken to 70+ brands on how they are effectively changing their communication strategies. We are now talking to the Advertising Agencies who are the brand custodians on what will be their strategy for their clients in the new normal.
Rana Barua, CEO, Havas Group India speaks to us about the communications and the various studies Havas has done globally during this crisis.
The lockdown is in the 5.0 phase, what as an Agency would be your priorities toward your brands? Brands in the new normal are now seeing new buying habits, as a brand custodian what will be the new strategies and advertising message?
The lockdown and its impact in marketing along with so many sectors cannot be described or be explained ever. Businesses, jobs, market, personalities, habits – never ever before has anything such has or will have (God forbid) an impact that makes one forego many conventions, adopt new strategies in a short while, recalibrate ideas that effectively deliver results, innovate solutions which probably did not exist and so on.
Where we excel as humans is the fact that we adapt to changes as per the environment and circumstances even in the most adverse conditions. So, we have all accepted a certain way of life and thus interacting and behaving keeping that in mind. Thus, all consumption patterns and buying habits are governed by the realities each one has and the need that it fulfils. But honestly, it is a time-lapse and does not mean that we have now all changed and become new beings completely!
The only change or difference I see is that going forward brands and businesses have a bigger and more responsible role to play, and they must do so with authenticity because it is the right thing to do for society as a whole. I see more Meaningful Brand conversations – where brands must be more relevant to the consumer and have some purpose or value that it brings into life. If I don’t connect then I will not exist in the consideration set anymore as someone else would have taken that slot.
And at Havas, we have Meaningful Brands our proprietary global study from Havas Group which links brand performance to our quality of life and wellbeing. And one of the startling findings is that even if 77% of the brands disappear the consumers will not care! The study shows that consumers reward brands who want to make the world a better place and reflect their values. Hence, for brands more than ever now, it should get back to creating a thoughtful, engaging story (differentiators) to stay relevant in the consumer’s life – that has a strong purpose and a clearly defined role.
As brands now are going digital, will you advise them to also start their own e-commerce platforms?
Brands have some fabulous online platform options available in the marketplace to reach a wider and more targeted audience. And additionally, many brands have their own platforms also – I would suggest for them to have a smart and thought through designed CX – Consumer Experience – journey that is built online (or app) and in every step of this journey. It allows for better and more interactive conversations that can win or lose consumers, forever. Many brands do not see this as an opportunity – I think the more we dive in and build more engaging CX journeys at various touchpoints, the better for brands to emerge stronger as they will build a genuine relationship with their ever-changing loyalists or the new consumers and vice versa for them.
Will brands now be more open to more spend on digital as compared to traditional platforms?
That anyway is happening as digital allows you to reach a wider yet targeted audience with multiple messages quickly and in a cost-effective way. So yes, digital spends may take precedence over many traditional mediums for sure but will need greater emphasis on storytelling communication in all these mediums to build a brand conversation that has any relevance and meaning and must demonstrate clear ROI, effectiveness, consumption/habit change influencing trends.
How will you rebuild brand loyalty for certain brands which fell off the radar during this lockdown?
Brand loyalty happens over time, use, efficacy, word of mouth and has many more reasons that help make a brand more favourable than the other. I am not sure if any brand has literally fallen off the radar during this lockdown. It may have not been in the consideration set considering the environment and the need of the consumer. So, many brands are up in the pegging order as it is “essential” which does not imply that the others are not going to be required. Coming back to a point I have mentioned – we need to be more meaningful going forward and that implies both in the communication and the experience. I am aware that many brands have strengthened their loyalty for obvious reasons – and for others who are getting back – my submission would be to figure the meaningful relevance it will play in the life of the consumer, and get that message loud and clear.
Will Ad Spends on TV see a spike?
Yes, as the festive season sets in and IPL gets closer, I am positive TV spends will be similar to last year (same time) and may surprise all of us by even being more as many clients need to promote their brands, sales need to happen, overall awareness needs to get a greater spike. Let us all hope that this happens – the advertising and media industry needs to get back the momentum quickly and it will also help all of our clients restore the confidence and thus bolster many marketing plans, budgets going forward.