Brands should focus on people & their health first

Guest Column: Vijay Babu, VP- Home Appliances, LG Electronics India says that brand stories should remain authentic while adapting to the changing circumstances

e4m by Vijay Babu
Updated: Jul 6, 2020 9:12 AM
Vijay Babu

For every brand, there comes a time for a litmus test. A time when the brand is tested if it stands for the values it professes and communicates to its audience, time and again. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we are faced with exactly that test. The pandemic which has spread rapidly across the world with a complete disregard for national borders, class or gender, communities; brands are facing the brunt of adapting to the ‘New Normal’ in a very short span. 

In these times, we have a very difficult choice - to stay relevant as a brand by leveraging the trending topic but also not sound out of touch to our audience by talking about the difficulties faced by the people, for the sake of it and seem insensitive. For any marketing campaign, it is important to prioritize a brand’s values and follow consumer behaviour patterns as it changes through the course of the pandemic. At the onset of the pandemic, fear of the disease and its effects are naturally instilled in customers, which reduces the trust towards a brand, and its services. Post Covid-19, a brand should try and inculcate these values to help instil this trust, while also emphasizing the responsibility as a socially responsible player. 

One of the main values that are essential for all industries is to prioritize health and hygiene. In the post COVID world, products like Water Purifiers, Refrigerators and even Microwaves are very useful since they are built with features which emphasize healthy living. The key messaging of safety should be the basis on which these products should be designed and marketed in the future. Safety is an essential concern for all, and the ‘touch and feel’ part in the consumer buying process must be reduced significantly. 

Henceforth, the shift to online marketing strategies through social media platforms and online portals are essential. Engagement through brand-owned Twitter or Instagram accounts towards consumers can help in propagating authentic communication while promoting essential safety concerns for the brand. Retail shops must be extra careful once opened to prioritize the safety concerns of a consumer. Social distancing norms can seem simple but are tedious to follow. It is important that companies take them seriously and monitor their stores in the future to ensure customers and employees alike, are protected. 

When digital communication becomes the norm, penetrating regional markets might be challenging. Henceforth, a marketing strategy which has already become popular in recent times but will have to take centerstage now is influencer engagements. The first step in the journey is to identify relevant influencers in the national and regional levels who should match the tone of the campaign and the brand. Next, these influencers can be collaborated with, through interactive offers and unique product placements which help the influencer grow and the brand grows through them. 

In India, emotional storytelling is also important to guide the consumer and attract attention to a brand’s narrative. It is important to let the audience know that the brand cares for them. The coronavirus pandemic has changed consumer demands drastically, reducing the optimism in the masses, according to an analysis by McKinsey and Company. However, unique storytelling and marketing content can steer the consumer to focus on essential demands and keep the economy rolling. It is important to resonate with these changing demands and craft campaigns accordingly. 

Moving forward, we are observing consumer habits, which have shifted drastically in the ‘new normal’ times. Working from home has made home appliances obviously very desirable, especially for working professionals who must balance families and careers while indoors. According to a Nielsen survey, 28% consumers in 12 cities across the country are open to the idea of buying a home appliance in the next few weeks as the country wakes up from the lockdown, even as all other additional expenditures including going on a holiday, buying a vehicle like a car or renovating the house, has been put on hold. We are predicting a pent-up demand for home appliances in the next few months and a brand should be well-prepared for it to provide customers with easier ways to get access to products. For example, pre-booking offers for consumers to make a checkout list is a unique way to keep the customers engaged and for the brand to keep a track of the demand of products in advance. 

The next few years will see an indelible change in the marketing landscape for consumer technology brands. They must tell their stories in a way that can balance staying authentic while also adapt to the changing circumstances. It is imperative, that the brand puts the focus on the people & their healthy lifestyle first.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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