How to achieve the maximum impact this festive season
The virtual unveiling of Pitch Madison Advertising Report saw a panel discussion with Amit Syngle, Rohit Gupta, Kunal Bahl, Shailesh Gupta, Avinash Pandey and Vikram Sakhuja
At the virtual unveiling of Pitch Madison Advertising Report Mid-Year Review, 2020, an esteemed panel consisting of top industry leaders presented their views on how to maximise impact during the festive season this year. The panellists for the virtual event were Amit Syngle, MD & CEO, Asian Paints; Rohit Gupta, President, Sony Pictures Networks India; Kunal Bahl, Co-founder & CEO, Snapdeal; Shailesh Gupta, Director, Jagran Prakashan Limited; and Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP Network. The session was moderated by Vikram Sakhuja, Partner & Group CEO, Madison Media & OOH.
Speaking about the impact of COVID-19 and how the e-commerce business bounced back, Kunal Bahl said, “I do feel this will continue to be a volatile year where we’ll have moments of euphoria and moments of pain, followed by more moments of euphoria and pain, and it’ll take some time before all of this probably stabilises nicely. At least from the online retail, e-commerce standpoint, they were down to zero for a couple of months, probably starting end March going until mid-May. Thereafter, we saw a very sharp recovery, where e-commerce companies were reporting anywhere from 100-140% of pre-lockdown volumes by July."
"We have also seen that a lot of our sellers and the brands on marketplaces are depending very significantly on e-commerce to drive their sales and make up for loss during the festive season this year. My current view is cautiously optimistic. I won’t call it undeniably optimistic, but I won’t call it pessimistic for sure,” he added.
Highlighting the challenges faced by Asian Paints and how the brand faced the crisis, Amit Syngle shared, “Our category is close to the discretionary category because you can always put off painting and can look at deferring that to some other bit. Most of April was a washout for us and we started getting back into shape in the month of May. We have huge plants across the country, and it’s not really easy to stop and restart chemical plants. It came with its own kind of problems. Given the way we dealt with it, the good part was that we were anyway steering on a large inventory we had because we closed a little bit abruptly in March. We had good material with us in terms of fulfilling the pent-up demand in the market. The real focus which we maintained was looking at the entire Tier 3 and Tier 4 in May-June, because these cities weren't as badly affected as the metro cities.”
Shailesh Gupta stated that newspapers played a crucial role for the local citizens during the entire COVID time as they received information about their locality. He also presented his views on the comeback of print supply chain. “As far as supply chain or circulation is concerned, in our area of operations, that is the North, our circulation was affected in the months of May and June, and the affected amount was not more than 40%. So we were still doing circulation of about 60-65%. But slowly our circulation now has come back to 80-85%. 15-20% of the circulaton is still affected because of our NCR markets - Gurgaon and Delhi. The effect on newspaper circulation mainly happened in metro cities,” he said.
Rohit Gupta stated that no other medium is as accountable as Television. “Volumes of TV advertising are currently back up. TV is strong and we are anticipating that it will make a comeback. The accountability that comes through TV advertising is the strongest as compared to other mediums. Digital is growing but many brands are going away from digital as there is no accountability in digital media.”
Avinash Pandey shared his opinion on the sudden growth of news channels during the lockdown period and also highlighted the reason why it was difficult for news broadcasters to retain the position after the lockdown. “People in Bihar and UP are consuming and seeing things differently as compared to people in metros. The problem with the news broadcasters is two-fold, one on the supply side and the other on the demand side. Firstly, we were too many. Secondly, most of us were chasing the same story, so there was not so much differentiated content available though people wanted more. And thirdly, there was not so much of demand in April and May, and because of that, FMCG companies were the only ones chasing the advertising inventory. Thus, it created pressure on the advertising sale side to sell.”
Concluding the discussion, Vikram Sakhuja said, “It's clear that this has been a very unprecedented year. We actually can get a pretty high range of growth and a lot of which will be dependent on the months to come. Also, this is not the time to think marketing as a cost but marketing as an investment. It’s important right now for all marketers to remember that demand creation is their job and this is the opportunity. We have an optimistic and buoyant kind of Indian population, and there are pockets of pain, but there are large tracts of lands in the country which are doing fine. So choose your battlefield, go regional, go smart and actually spend well and you’ll get great returns.”
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