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.
In this story of Medianews4u’s brand series, Back to Business, we spoke to Kartik Johari, Vice President, Nobel Hygiene.
How are you coping with the impact of Covid-19 on Nobel Hygiene? How effectively have you used the lockdown period?
I think we are comparatively well off, considering the general market outlook and sentiment. Being an essentials company, I think we are fairly insulated from such systemic shocks. We saw this even during Demoni, i.e: you cannot expect a baby to immediately self potty-train 🙂 We were able to meet all salary dues so far, and hiring will resume in Q2.
The lockdown asked everyone to immediately shift to a remote working environment, so at least business processes and KRAs were immediately divided. The lockdown allowed us to more effectively analyse our internal shortcomings, and appropriate countermeasures are being developed to take us through the year. Obviously, I think a renewed focus on health has bloomed within every individual, and we hope to support the same with our employees. We’re also learning as we go along; our factory has pivoted very successfully to incorporate further stringent hygiene measures, including a sanitizing mist bath for employees and workers.
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/category?
I think that our existing business practices and products have proven to be our biggest strengths. We have obviously evolved on the logistics front, as has most of the country. There were varied things we did to ensure stock coverage and deployment during the initial days; including our successful partnerships with Porto and ZoomCar. Our sales team acted like true #CoronaWarriors and were loading trucks themselves.
Post COVID will bring even more focus onto hybrid distribution models and environmentally sustainable practices. The disposable hygiene category is battling to reduce it’s plastic footprint; and we look forward to the government’s support in the coming times.
While some parts of the country have become Covid-19 free, cities like Mumbai and Delhi are still in a lockdown situation. How are you planning to resume business across cities that are not in the Red?
In a phased manner. I do not presume to have all the answers; no one does. On one hand, we do not see the infection rate slowing down and our health infrastructure is being maxed out. On the other hand, we see a depressed death rate in India, and problems with epidemiological models which showed the transmission rates of COVID now, and Swine Flu in the past.
Mumbai is the second densest city on Earth; we are bound to face exacerbating issues due to our population density. All strategies will have to be custom made and closely tracked. We will look to the strength of our employees, partners and distributors and innovative practices like Society Outreaches and Volunteer groups to ensure effective presence.
What will be your communication strategy post the opening of the lockdown? Understandably bringing customers back to you would be difficult… What will be the objective of the communication/marketing strategy?
Bringing customers back will be difficult for any business or service depending on F2F interactions and groups of people. On the contrary, we have been rewarded with the loyalty of our customers in this trying time.
Our communication strategy is going to be honest and positive. We feel consumers require positivity, in a world where nothing is certain. The least we can do, is provide an assurance of our products and services. Additionally, we hope to keep adding value with our digital efforts by doing varied pegs based around engagement, interactions and simple UGC. Our macro comms will celebrate the freedom that our diaper and sanitary napkin products provide our users, from problems not often referred to.
How did you keep the morale of the employees during this lockdown period? On a personal note, what kept you positive?
Daily communication is the key. Uncertainty causes anxiety. We tried our utmost to remain connected with our employees and direct reportees. We ensured that they were in the loop as much as we were; regarding the operations of the company and sharing news from our respective circles. Humans are social creatures; thus it’s best if we can replicate the sociability of old in some new virtual form. It’s not perfect, but certainly better than staying in the dark.
On a personal note, I was zen :). Between work requirements, family meetings, grocery runs, workouts and night time PS4, there was little time to spare. Our privilege is obvious during such times; when the majority of the country is in complete uncertainty. We are doing right by the people we know.
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?
Being in healthcare and hygiene, I think demand is poised to stay where it is. We echo Mr. Tata’s sentiments, that this is a year to survive, not thrive. Our focus will be on strengthening our supply chain, and upgrading our human resources. We will continue producing high-quality products, to aid not only our customers, but also all doctors and Healthcare practitioners in the country.