e4m webinar powered by Salesforce:Brands that haven't been true to themselves have failed'

On the panel were Toby Jenner, Atit Mehta, Subha Sreenivasan Iyer, Ritesh Ghosal, Yashdeep Vaishnav and Meera Iyer

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jul 23, 2020 5:22 PM

In the world now filled with challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, marketers are analysing how things went wrong and are going from recovery to re-invention. Undoubtedly, there are a lot of challenges that brands have to face even though things have started to take off post lockdown.

At a webinar powered by Salesforce and hostd by exchange4media on Tuesday, industry leaders came together to discuss the topic: ‘From Recovery to Re-invention: Building brands for the long haul’.

Chaired by Nawal Ahuja, Co-Founder & Director, exchange4media Group, the panel had renowned names from the industry: Toby Jenner, Global CEO, Wavemaker; Atit Mehta, Head Marketing, BYJU’S; Subha Sreenivasan Iyer, Head-Media Services, Godrej Consumer Private Limited; Ritesh Ghosal, CMO, Infiniti Retail, Croma; Yashdeep Vaishnav, Regional Director, Salesforce; and Meera Iyer, CMO, Medlife.

Speaking about the challenges in terms of communication from clients to consumers, Toby Jenner shared his view that brands that haven’t been true to themselves have failed. “Authenticity is not new, but it has been compounded by COVID. Having brand purpose is central to how people have behaved in a COVID world,” he said.

Speaking about the learning from the crisis, Subha Sreenivasan Iyer said “The last 4-5 months in my career have taught me collectively what I would never have learnt. We saw multiple audiences shaken up in their behaviour and purchase decisions. There is a real issue in terms of production, disruption and supply chains. We continuously looked out for customer cues, which helped us a lot and immediately got our supply chain back to action.” She added that the most important thing is to figure out the immediate needs of the consumers through the cues they give. 

For an e-commerce company like Medlife, demand was not an issue, in fact, the spike in demand was what made it hard. E-commerce has shot up significantly and organically. “Servicing the demand was more of an issue. We decided the consumers we wanted to service and retain. Thanks to data and digital enhancements, you know exactly the customers who not only drive your business revenues, but also growth for the future,” Meera Iyer, CMO, Medlife said. The company also did a survey in March and found that 74% consumers were not sure of the information they were getting, 85% wanted to hear about the pandemic from experts, instead of the media and 65% didn’t know what to believe. “With this data, we quickly moved to just creating doctor videos, which helped move the conversation from simple e-commerce to engagement,” Iyer added.

Atit Mehta said the biggest challenge for his company was to ensure that everyone had the means for online learning, since it went from a teaching company to a learning company. “We started taking live classes. India’s best teachers started taking scheduled sessions. Getting this going was a huge burden, since we had to keep content in place, studios ready and get people to participate. We had a huge demand, but supply was a problem, since it was a physical kit containing a lot of items. We did it in about three weeks since the lockdown stared,” he said.

Further segmenting this, Yashdeep Vaishnav categoried consumers down into three parts - One set of customers that is still buying, second set who speaks when things are good and the third one, who researches during this time but doesn’t buy. He said, “We are seeing a huge spike in the edtech. There is so much you can do in times like these with not just brand recall, but also customer acquisition.”

“There was a huge pent-up demand and even now, we are running at around 15% less than last year. The only category where we and all our competitors got caught up were ACs, because we had stocked up and the season got washed out virtually. Even the ones who wanted the products were hesitant due to the safety and other delivery issues and lack of installation partners,” said Ritesh Ghosal, CMO, Infiniti Retail, Croma as he spoke about supply challenges.

“A relevant conversation is better because consumers are more tied to brands that are giving relevant messaging. If that doesn't happen, the brand must change its messaging accordingly,” said Jenner. He believes that purpose-driven marketing is long term in India, but is not necessarily binary.

Iyer is of view that the speed at which we listen to conversations, take feedback, launch and test the feedback is going to be a vital component for us. “As we continue further, there is going to be a thematic communication, but if required, we are ready to adapt and churn out new communication,”

It’s very important to understand that contextually done things don’t need to be a one-off but need to be something that can be rolled off into your overall strategy, said Mehta of BYJU’S.

Looking at the brighter side, Ghosal of Croma anticipates a rebalancing on spends this festive, with electronics being a part of it. However, he believes that the challenges will continue to be on the supply part. Diwali and other festivals will bring back some growth, but a lot of money was riding on the cricket world cup, which won't be happening now. 

Speaking about OOH, Jenner of Wavemaker believes that there’s a bright future for outdoor, if outdoor media owners can digitalize and personalize their messaging.

“There's an upside for how lively the Indian market is and will return to growth in Q3-Q4, but not as good as my colleagues speculate. If it goes higher, I'd be very happy,” he added.

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