e4m e-Conclave 2020: ‘Have to innovate products if social distancing will be the norm’

Marketing industry experts share insights on countering COVID impact with product innovations & understanding consumer motivations

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: May 9, 2020 10:03 AM  | 4 min read

The third session of the e4m e-Conclave webinar was a panel discussion on 'COVID-19: Its Impact on Media & Entertainment Industry in India'. The Session Chair for the Panel Discussion was Raman Kalra, Partner, CMO Advisory Leader, PwC India. The panel had eminent leaders like Krishnarao S Buddha, Sr Category Head-Marketing, Parle Products; Neeraj Vyas, Sr EVP & Business Head, Sony Pictures; Prachi Mohapatra, CMO, FBB - Future Group India; Suresh Balakrishna, Chief Revenue Officer, The Hindu Group; and Uma Talreja, Chief Marketing & Chief Customer Officer, Shoppers Stop.

 Sharing her views on the short term survival strategy plans, Mohapatra said, “When I talk about the fashion side of the business, we definitely have been knocked out. Since the day we have been on a lockdown, it has taken a hit. Consumers are not going to make any purchase at this time, which is not an essential product. The short-term strategy, as I would put it, as a value brand, I see a lot of uplift. We are anticipating on upswing in parallel, there is a lot of pent up demand, which is there.”

 Talreja, being in the same fashion category, shares her views on the whole impact shaping up saying, “The response from consumers might vary by categories and there will be a redefinition of what is essential. Everybody is going to look at their own economic condition and I think what is essential for me at the moment might not be very different from somebody else going forward. That will influence a lot of category demand. The major countries that have opened up have not seen a major bounce back. For a year we will have to go after these very niche states and be able to segment our customers whether it is geographically or lifestyle. 

“There will be a change in terms of living and what it will unlock in terms of innovation is one of the things that is very critical. The number of brands that have launched masks at this point and time.”

“As a department store we would have never taught of selling like an FMCG hand sanitizer but today we are doing that. This is the beginning of innovation. Social distancing will be the way of life for us it is now about innovating the product which is important,” she added. 

Buddha sharing about the impact of COVID on the brand Parle said, "We have been considered an essential brand. But were working on a much smaller labour force so it was tough initially. We struggled to get 25% manpower and increased working hours. Our vendors weren't really geared up. The first few days were easier as we had inventory. But April it became tougher. We decided on 5 critical products. That helped us jack up our production capacity. We have had a different and a terrific experience. However, the demand is 300x as of now.” 

"Circulation has been hit at a lot of places and advertising revenue dried up. On one hand, there has been a financial hit but on the other hand, there has been a huge upside on digital at The Hindu. But data also suggest that more than 70% of people said when the paper comes back we would want that again", remarked Balakrishna about the impact of The Hindu. 

Vyas sharing the issue at hand for Sony says, “The issue for us now is that we're unable to generate original content. Essentially its repeat content is playing out right now so after a point it'll get pushed back.”

 Customer behavior has changed remarks, Mohapatra. “We are going with Strategy by the hour. In 10 days we launched our portal for essential delivery. We are increasing our digital footprint. Now, our prime focus is on meeting demands”, she shares. 

Talreja remarks, “I think it’s the brand that has built customer relationships. As stores open, keeping an eye on what’s going on the ground and what they are paying is really important." 

“The studios need to be hygiene and COVID-19 compliant. Factors including transport, coordination with the crew, travel, equipment, etc will all require a tremendous amount of checks", comments Vyas on the change of operations post-COVID-19.

 “TV will have both aspects of reality and fiction. We'll need to know exactly what the audience wants to see”, remarked Vyas. 

Signing off, Buddha added, "Zomato launched ‘Zomato Market’ to deliver groceries expanding its portfolio is the great innovation and it is a good model to follow.”


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