Godrej Appliances took an innovative route to engage its 5000 trade partners through the first in the industry new product launch in a virtual form. For a more interactive approach, the virtual event Also had a live chat window wherein all the participants could share their views and received tremendous feedback from the trade network. This new format has been accepted with great enthusiasm. Unlike the limitations of physical event on the number of people who can partictipate, this new virtual launch allowed the brand to reach out to a much wider audience in a very short span. The brand introduced 3 new models across refrigerators and washing machines, at this virtual event.
At the launch event Medianews4u spoke to Kamal Nandi, Business Head and Executive Vice President – Godrej Appliances, on the challenges due to the pandemic and the measures the company has taken to be in the consumers mind.
Due to lockdown online shopping is on a rise, how much of a surge are you seeing?
In the light of the COVID pandemic, with businesses across sectors suffering a dent, consumers are being extremely cautious about purchases on one hand. On the other, appliances are the need of the hour with their ability to provide convenience and comfort at home. In this unprecedented time, consumer behavior is bound to change as well – from where they shop, the way they shop, the products they shop, how they pay to how they use. The online channel is seeing increased traction given the social distancing norms and the pandemic fear associated with it. Although the overall growth will remain flat, we foresee a 50 -60% increase in sales through e-commerce and other digital channels in the immediate future.
This is why, at the beginning of the lockdown, we took the herculean task of enabling our network of trade partners to reach customers digitally. We have been breaking barriers across all fronts – from product cataloging and showcasing, multiple cashless online payment facilities to initiation of video-assisted remote selling initiative. By exploring alternative ways to communicate and engage, we were able to offer fantastic opportunities to our trade partners in these testing times.
What are the new business opportunities for Godrej Appliances & what will be the new innovations?
Godrej Appliances has always been known for providing high-quality home appliances. As Indian households fight the pandemic, home appliances can go a long way in reducing their burden and easing out their stress.
Themes like safety, health and hygiene over and above effort minimisation have emerged – playing a more dominant role in product selection as well as product purchase and long-term usage. Hence, we are reviewing our portfolio and coming up with new features for short term and new product ideas for the long term along this theme.
The current ongoing launches of Godrej Edge Neo and Rio refrigerators and Godrej Edge Ultima are significantly superior products in the popular segment but these launches will be followed by a host of other product launches across existing categories too.
Your thoughts on Be Vocal for local
The government’s recent call to make our country self-reliant by asking people to buy Indian brands is an opportunity for every Indian company. But, for Godrej, this is nothing new. Our founders’ vision was to build a self-reliant India. We have been working on this principle relentlessly to bring this vision come alive. In line with ‘Make in India’, we have been working towards upping our indigenous manufacturing capabilities for the past 3 years and we will soon be almost ready to manufacture each of our categories in India, which is not something many brands in the country can promise.
At the promotion end, we are encouraging our consumers to speak about what made them choose the Godrej appliance they bought. This distinction is important to us. Consumers do not buy products only because they are Indian but because they offer consumers great value – great quality – special features – attractive looks. And we take pride in being able to offer consumers high-quality products. We want our consumers to continue buying us for these reasons and ofcourse, we take great pride in our Indianness. Our digital communication highlights our offerings across the diverse Godrej & Boyce group – and brings to life how with our products and services we have been making a mark over the years.
What would be the communication strategy in the new normal world?
In these unprecedented times, we are adapting to this new business climate, finding new ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness and also changing the way we connect with our customers. It is critical to redefine how we as a brand – interact with our audience, avoiding grave pitfalls of insensitivity or myopia.
The consumer clearly needs brands to play a larger or at least a different role than what it may have played in the past. It is important to be authentic, credible, and empathetic towards the consumers’ concerns.
With that in mind,we are keeping a continuous tab on consumer sentiment and accordingly, are focusing on core themes of effort minimization and hygiene & health, as well as other relevant themes like environment friendliness, nation building, which are anyway integral to our brand.
We are re-assessing and strengthening our offerings on these and play up the right propositions. For example, we have an in-built heater in our washing machines or refrigerators that offer much better space utilization or microwave ovens which can act as a kitchen aid in these difficult times. Pride of ownership of a product that’s world-class and a brand that’s truly Indian will play a key role.
We are also changing our ways of reaching consumers via service and marketing will play a key role in communicating these transformations to consumers and educating them on how we are changing our business operations to keep them safe.
Savings matter even more to consumers at this moment, and tactical promotions will get attention.
Digital media will play a key role as we focus on consumer education, consumer empathy and consumer engagement in a very different context this year.
Every brand will have to take into cognizance these terrains – some new and some old, in a relevant and authentic manner.
How much of increase in sales as compared to this period last year?
Owing to the COVID pandemic, the appliances industry is impacted by a significant loss in sales, especially in the case of cooling products like Air Conditioners, Refrigerators, Chest Freezers and Air Coolers. The economic uncertainty has also hampered demand and hurt consumer sentiments since early March – posing a challenge predominantly on the demand side. The month of March which is the last month of the previous financial year, a loss of 30 -40% of the sale was experienced. The loss in April was 100%, while we experienced approx. 60 – 70% drop in sales in the month of May. With markets opening across, the last week of June witnessed a secondary sale the same as last year, but an approx. 20% drop in sales for the entire month.
Positivity during the crisis?
The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled companies to rapidly embrace remote working and presented us with a unique opportunity to be future-ready and embed new ways of working in preparation for the ‘new normal’.
Since bulk of our organization was already on Office 365 with access to Ms Team, the digital transition on day to day work, happened very fast for us without much hiccups. Agile ways of working with digital tools for facilitating every aspect of work have been a key focus area to ensure productivity.
Beyond this, having a very strong engagement process with all stakeholders digitally was a big shift. It’s not enough to just have work done. Keeping stakeholders bonded and engaged with the larger team is also something we have put our efforts into. A series on large scale and small-scale online meets are in progress at our end and more such initiatives will also have to be continued.
The willingness demonstrated by the company to act as torchbearers of change in the eco system and the positive feedback from consumers when it comes to service or trade when it comes to sales has definitely kept us going.
Personally, I think maintaining a healthy discipline when it comes to fitness and food keeps me going. I do love having a good time and always look forward to my Sunday socializing (albeit online) routine. Apart from that,I got the opportunity to spend more time at home with my family and my loving pet Buzo, but I do miss some of the spontaneous face to face conversations from the workplace which would often kick start a new idea. We are however trying our best to stay very connected with each other at work to address this.