Brands need to find a narrative to connect with consumers in a new context: Tushar Vyas

Vyas, President, Growth and Transformation, GroupM South Asia, spoke to e4m about the challenges faced by media agencies and more

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Jul 28, 2020 9:03 AM

As part of the knowledge series hosted by the The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), eminent speakers from media agencies and brands recently participated in a discussion about decoding the new normal in media and communication in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the sidelines of this discussion, Tushar Vyas, President, Growth and Transformation, GroupM South Asia, spoke to e4m about the challenges faced by media agencies and more.


What are your observations about the media consumption trends over the last 100-plus days?
COVID 19-induced lockdown has not just resulted in a change in media consumption but also unleashed creative solutions across various parts of Industry. From creating content online, producing content from home, the role of influencers, to holding live events online. The lockdown has accelerated the transformation to digital across all facets of the marketing value chain from purchase, distribution, communication, sales to customer service.
I think now there will be higher outcome focus and an agile way of working. It will result in full-funnel focus. The line between brand and demand will start blurring across many categories.
Brands would also look forward to understanding every step their consumers make towards the purchase and how to keep their consumers engaged, loyal and repeat their purchases.
With higher e-commerce adoption during the lockdown resulting in the net new addition of the consumer across various e-commerce categories, the profile of e-commerce users has changed from impulsive to regular purchases. I would say, the more connected the consumer, the more the learnings for the brand.

In terms of brand ad spends, what has been the overall impact from an agency perspective?
A lot of the impact of COVID-19 on ad spends depends on how we as a society handle the containment of the spread of the virus, of course supported by government efforts. The impact differs based on population strata and geographies – this will also result in hyperlocal thinking and demand moments. Home is the new epicentre of activities and many brands need to find a narrative to connect with the consumer in a new context.
As per our estimations, digital is relatively less impacted followed by TV, radio, print, OOH and cinema.
The revival of ad spend depends a lot on consumption picking up on-ground. While FMCG consumption from rural India, tractor and motorbike/ scooter sales are on the rise from May 2020 to now, the trend needs to be broader and sustained for a few months for advertisers to gain confidence on consumption revival.

What are your expectations from the festive season, will it bring back the missing marketing spends, will there be a new playbook to the marketing mix now?
Festive season is likely to see increased marketing activity compared to Apr-Jul 2020. However, this depends on the COVID-19 curve flattening across various parts of India.
Sectors like FMCG, e-commerce, auto (used & new, entry-level segments across motorbikes/ scooters/ cars), offline retail (apparels and accessories), handsets, new age media are likely to have higher presence compared to the much-impacted Apr-Jul 2020.
Outcome-focused thinking will take centrestage and identifying the right customer cohorts and hyperlocal planning will be core.

In your view, what are the three big challenges that media agencies are facing today?
Lower advertising has resulted in revenue impact for agency business like many other business segments.
However, the lockdown period has both been challenging and invigorating. More frequent engagement with clients/ teams led to innovative brand solutions across sectors. In my view, this period is to be looked at as an opportunity to future proof ourselves and not be myopically looked at as challenging. We as an industry adapted to the situation pretty fast and to a new way of working. I see a significant focus across the organisation on upskilling and talent development.

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