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 60+ 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.
Tarun Rai, Chairman & Group CEO South Asia – Wunderman Thompson, speaks to us on their communication strategy for their clients
The lockdown is in the 5.0 phase, what as an Agency would be your priorities toward your brands?
It is true that the government has decided that the economy cannot remain in lockdown beyond a point and we have to get its wheels moving. While the crisis is not over there are ample signs that, as a country, we have things more in control than a few weeks ago. We are advising our clients to start spending to capture the pent-up demand. Different categories are in different stages of recovery, however, for most, the worst is over and the recovery is visible. What will differentiate the smarter companies is their ‘bounce-back velocity’ coming out of the crisis. The faster the bounce-back the more the chance of market share gain.
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 crisis has hastened many trends that were already visible. This includes buying behaviour. For some brands and companies these are challenges but for others they are opportunities. The faster the companies adapt to capitalise on these new behaviours, the better their post-Covid performance. What is required is agility – of thinking, organisation structures and business plans. Advertising and communication will be at hand to support all the new brand activities.
As brands are going digital, will you advise them to also start their own e-commerce platforms?
It is surprising that so many companies were still largely dependent on brick-and-mortar sales and distribution models. In some categories almost 95% of sales were from offline retail. With the lockdown these companies have suffered much more than they would have had, had they had a robust e-commerce platform in place. One of Wunderman Thompson’s key strengths is E-Commerce and we are advising all our clients to focus on developing their platforms and strategies.
Will brands now be more open to more spend on digital as compared to traditional platforms?
As I have said above, the crisis has only hastened trends that were already visible. And yes, more spending on digital will be one of the trends that will gain momentum. But traditional media will continue to play a very important role. I have always maintained that India is actually many India’s and there is a role for both traditional and new media. As we come out of the crisis it is important for marketers to untie their marketing purse strings and spend. The second half of the year is the more important half of the year due to a combination of pent-up demand and the upcoming festive season. This is the time for brands to spend and gain market share.
How will you rebuild brand loyalty for certain brands which fell off the radar during this lockdown?
Strong brands can bounce-back quickly. However, they should not delay communicating with their consumers any more. During the crisis, many consumers have flirted with other brands. This was mostly due to availability issues. But now, with normalcy returning, it is time for the strong brands to hit back, even if they have been absent for a while. If they do not do it now, then they run the risk of losing their consumers forever. We are working with our clients to quickly launch the initiatives which had been put on hold during the crisis. This is the time for action.