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 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.
In this story of Medianews4u’s new series, Back to Business, we spoke to Yogesh Nambiar – Head – Marketing, Harman India International Pvt. Ltd
How are you coping with the impact of Covid-19 on Harman India? How effectively have you used the lockdown period?
Covid-19 is a global crisis, unlike what any of us have seen in our lifetimes. Being a truly diversified technology-based organisation has helped us to circumvent some of the early challenges, though we have seen varied impact across our verticals. We have used this period to ensure that we are building various scenarios on maximising brand presence. The true test of a brand is customer retention and our focus has been to engage with consumers across platforms as they gave us feedback and suggestions of what they are seeking from our brand. We saw a lot of our customers advocate for us and our brand promise in this period, which tells us that we are in the right direction. We have been very focussed on ensuring that we are consistently engaging with customers and employees, keeping safety, wellbeing, and compliance top of mind.
The quest for a solution to a 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/category?
Early into the lockdown, we saw a huge opportunity as offices went into WFH. While most of April was locked down, we quickly pivoted our POS from offline to a much larger online brand presence building packages for WFH both in our consumer and professional audio space. Being pioneers in designing good audio, we focussed on launches that helped make the work from home more seamless and enabled the industry to continue operation across all our lifestyle and professional brands. This line-up included AKG Lyra USB Microphone, AKG K361/K371 Bluetooth Headphone, JBL Quantum Gaming headphones, JBL Club series Noise Cancelling Headphones and Harman Kardon range of premium smart speakers and HK Fly Headphones. We also spent a significant amount of time and money to train over 16,000 audio professionals over 100 workshops on usage and understanding of our various product lines, a first for any sound brand in the country.
In the current Unlock plan being implemented by the government, how have you resumed the business?
With a focus on the online space, we have been able to connect to all our consumers wherever they are present. We have been partnering with all leading retail outlets; Amazon, Flipkart, Tata Cliq, Paytm, Reliance retail, Croma and the General Trade while also building our own brand store through www.in.JBL.com and www.harmanaudio.in. Our focus of strong inventory turnaround time ensured the ability to supply products & strengthen our brand across consumers. Currently, we stand at a strong market share position which has seen a double-digit growth over the past 6 months.
What will be your communication strategy post the opening of the lockdown? What will be the objective of the communication/marketing strategy?
We have been very focussed on our marketing and communication plans throughout this period. While budgets have been tight, we have focused on consumer engagement across all our verticals. Post the lockdown we plan to remain steadfast in our truthful & transparent communication about our products, utilise our Global Brand Ambassadors to speak about the same.
How did you keep the morale of the employees during this lockdown period? On a personal note, what kept you positive?
While this period has been challenging and isolating for a lot of people, I have tried to engage with my team both on a formal and informal level. Structuring our review meetings and also connecting with the team informally to deal with any concerns and anxieties has helped maintain a personal touch. Employee well-being and growth is critical to HARMAN across the world and accordingly many initiatives have been launched to support our colleagues during this time. From regular global townhalls to continued training we have attempted to keep employees comfortable, safe, and as close to business as usual.
For me personally, I am a strong believer in “This too shall pass” I have continued to read and update my knowledge. Spending time connecting with friends and family online has helped me cope with the stay positive.
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?
While there is a strong focus on staying dynamic and agile as we move along this period, we do intend to cater to all channels actively, support our partners in their marketing initiatives during the festive season and drive traffic into/within their platforms. Increase in our width of promotion by forging strong alliances with like-minded brands will also be a key to our strategy.
Is there anything else that you would want to add?
We plan to cater to the needs of the ‘new normal’ in our consumers’ lifestyles while keeping a close watch on market dynamics and look forward to the much-needed festivities in the coming months. We will continue our journey as the brand that believes in helping our consumers to always – “Dare to Listen”