As the economy unlocks in controlled phases, businesses must now restructure their models, communication channels and messaging. CoViD-19 has brought about a change in how brands portray themselves to and engage with their customers, adding an aspect of sensitivity to the messages being sent out.
Chapter 4 of the ‘brand-comm Connect’ saw industry stalwarts debate and share their valuable insights on the topic ‘Business Unlock 1.0: How Marketers are Redesigning Their Strategies‘. Ramesh Jude Thomas, President and Chief Knowledge Officer, EQUiTOR Value Advisory Pvt. Ltd, was in conversation with Diptakirti Chaudhuri, Head of Marketing, Manipal Global Education Services, Shweta Berry, Head of Strategic Alliances – Industry & Academia, Marcom and CSR, Aeris Communications, Prasad Mane, Assistant Vice-President, Marketing, Bhartiya City Developers and Dr Gururaj H Kidiyoor, Professor & Chairperson – MSM Program, T. A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI).
Quite a few insights emerged from the discussion.
Role of Leadership
The correct leadership will enable businesses to steer smoothly and steadily during the pandemic, towards sustainability, to prolong their business. On this, Dr Guru remarked, “Academic leadership is the pioneer in creation, dissemination and application of knowledge. Today, most institutes are able to create and disseminate knowledge through various digital tools and platforms. It’s creating the aspect of applicability that is a concern, and we see that outbound marketing activities have taken a huge hit. Internships are another area that have taken a hit. It is said that 10-15% of recruitment happens through internships, but are no longer possible. Fixing this requires strict innovation on how we can digitally ensure placements happen effectively.”
Role of Engagement
Prasad pointed out, “Today, it is important that we look at creating products that kindle curiosity amongst users. The industry and the customers need a differentiator in every product they are using, and in order to entice them, it is necessary to create curiosity for the product.”
Shwetha emphasised the need to have a customer-centric model, stating, “ Brands need to move from product-centric models to customer-centric models. If you don’t shift, it is impossible for brands to sustain in the changing environments. Adoption, agility, flexibility, keen listening and comprehending the needs of the customer will help in business continuity. Brands mustn’t dictate, but listen to customers.
Diptakirti added, “Marketing tools we had at the beginning of March 2020, were sufficient for the last 3 months. However, CoViD-19 has made us question the use of certain tools and their value while pushing us to innovate.”
Speaking on the challenges faced in customer relations, Prasad said, “The situation has opened our eyes to the different methods of enticing customers, making us evaluate the avenues at hand, and how do they impact us.”
Shwetha added, “It’s important to understand how brands have evolved their communication and engagement with customers. Today, there is an added angle of safety, and the FMCG sector has been able to disrupt its customer relations. During the pandemic, they brought their products right to your doorsteps through various platforms. Technology is going to play a huge role in customer experience with contactless systems.”
Diptakirti expressed his thoughts on the on-going evolution of customer experience and its importance in sensitising the stakeholders to the change while allowing them to get used to the new changes that are happening.
The panel agreed that brands must recognise there will be a shift in customer preferences of consuming products and services. Further, the availability has played a major role in what the consumer prefers to buy, and hence brands must cater to ensuring product availability.
The panel also deliberated on how the pandemic would create casualties in the economy, with businesses shutting down, downscaling units and verticals, loss of jobs, just to name a few.
On the topic, Shwetha said, “There is a need for brands to collaborate with other brands, ensure that your company is debt-free. It is important that brands partner like-minded and equal peers, in order to sustain a healthy relationship. Acquisition is going to be a huge tool for bigger brands to help the younger or smaller brands survive.” Prasad spoke on the importance of changing business models to ensure brands survive the fallout. Players are collaborating with technology partners to enhance their business models and be relevant to a larger audience.
In conclusion, the panel agreed that companies will remodel their marketing practices to ensure they are relevant to their target audience.