ABP News-Pitch BrandTalk: Rural markets will grow post-COVID-19: B Thiagarajan

In the Pitch BrandTalk Virtual Series, B Thiagarajan, Managing Director of Blue Star, shared insights on how brands should navigate challenges of COVID-19

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: May 2, 2020 9:02 AM
ABP News-Pitch BrandTalk Virtual Series with B Thiagarajan, MD, Blue Star

Marketers are braving the way to deal with the challenges of a nationwide lockdown and paving the way for a new normal in these unprecedented times of COVID-19.

On the ABP News-Pitch Brand Talk Virtual Series, B Thiagarajan, Managing Director, Blue Star, shared ‘How are big brands like Bluestar addressing marketing challenges in COVID-19 times?’ in a one-on-one conversation with Dr Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor in Chief, exchange4media and BW Businessworld.

Starting off the webinar, Thiagarajan shared, “We are in a big set back situation. But it is one summer season I look at it as a call from the heavens. We need to look at ourselves and review where we are, our lifestyles, and what we need to do differently. While the pain is the reality I think how we take it for ourselves and process it in our minds matters. The process of an engineer of the company, the businessman, and the process of a consumer should be different. It is a difficult period but I’m equally confident that we will bounce back for sure in a different manner in the days to come.”

Thiagarajan sharing how he sees the business environment shaping up remarked, “It is still uncertain how it is going to pan out but some things are clear. The lockdown was imposed all of a sudden but lifting up will be a gradual process. We are now mapping which are green zones, orange zones, or white zones and which are the dealer outlets located there. Which services can reach there and which warehouses can operate. The mapping is done digitally and will be the way of life for another 4 months.”

Speaking about demand and supply he commented, “We have adequate inventory, so opening the factory doesn’t help. But interestingly, other sectors are opening up for us. For instance, in a residential segment, air conditioning with inbuilt air purifiers will be the sought after thing. The demand is coming in but we aren’t able to service back even though we have the inventory due to the lockdown. We are in the business of medical refrigeration for medical equipment and for vaccines. This business is looking up. From now on, the commission refrigeration business is doing well. There is a possibility that room air conditioners will come on stream from Q2 onwards. For central air conditioning systems, we are engaged in setting up some makeshift hospitals that give us the hope that we will pass through this trial period and come back stronger. Water purifying business we feel will grow now because people are more health-conscious.”

Blue Star had actually planned a big campaign with Virat Kohli and they are missing out on a peak season. “A lot of our campaigns are not relevant now because of COVID-19 and health and hygiene protocols. We are tweaking some of the shots we have to fit in proper communication as per the times. This time used to be like a festive season for our business but we accept the reality and I feel we will bounce back strongly. Close to 50% of sales use to come during this season and campaign launches are in standstill but this is the time to rethink where we are.”

For my brand, Cricket and News channels are the marketing medium stated Thiagarajan.

Thiagarajan’s advice to marketers is to deal with each day and avoid making assumptions about when this will get over. “Focus on planning. Advertising will not dip. After this, everybody will be in a ramp-up mode. Post these people will avoid big cities and there is a good chance of Rural economic development. The rural market will grow post-COVID-19”, he remarked.

Lastly, Thiagarajan wrapped up saying, "The Indian youth will emerge much stronger after this pandemic. I feel India will emerge as a strong manufacturer for the world and might become a hub. Disruption will stay for a little longer in business like travel & tourism, hospitality. If things continue till May this quarter will hit by 50% for us.”

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