‘Time is ripe for brands to innovate & focus on technology’

Experts share recommendations for brands to improve customer engagement and navigate the uncertain marketing terrain in the new normal

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Published: May 29, 2020 8:15 AM  | 5 min read
Marketing Post Lockdown

As the lockdown restrictions begin to relax, brands have been feeling the need to find new ways to engage with their consumers. The reassurance of safety will be the key component in these innovations. For instance, Starbucks India will be launching India's first drive-through store to allow customers to engage with the brand in innovative ways. An SME brand is leveraging the power of AI to automate product cataloguing and listing, helping India’s offline sellers transact online. Customer’s consumption habits have changed and brands need to revamp for an impactful sale in a post lockdown environment.

e4m reached out to marketing experts for their take on the digital innovations and solutions that are necessary for brands in a post-lockdown environment.

According to Abhishek Gupta, Chief Marketing Officer, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance, each sector is experiencing changes in the overall ecosystem.

“Digital has undoubtedly become a way of life, and it will play a crucial part in the post-COVID world. For the insurance sector, we are expecting digital advisory to be the future of customer interaction. To realign with these expected changes, Edelweiss Tokio Life has built a solution called ‘DigiTools’, which aims to make customer interaction friendlier, personalized yet standardized, and suitable for the changing ecosystem. Information consumption will primarily happen through devices like mobiles. Our goal is to develop a long-term relationship with our customers and solutions like DigiTools are targeted at achieving that”, highlighted Gupta.

Ashvin Vellody, Partner, Deloitte India, states that the pandemic has ushered in new rules of engagement and ways of working.

He explained, “The safety of the workforce and customers is of utmost importance. Innovative applications of technologies such as IoT, cloud, digital wallet, omnichannel retail will help in running businesses in a safe and secure way while ensuring that there is no dip in productivity and customer experience. Remote conferencing and meeting applications will make communication between teams seamless and flexible. Virtual and Augmented Reality devices will close the physical distance between brands and customers. Smart supply chains with digitized resource transactions will help in meeting changing customer demands.”

In the past, volatile conditions have sparked innovation and today’s world is no different. “The time is ripe for brands to innovate and focus on technology solutions to not only survive but thrive in the current state”, remarked Vellody.

Varun Alagh, Co-founder, Mamaearth shared that at that they have been one of the fastest companies to bounce back from the COVID-19 crisis. “Like all companies, our orders took a big hit during the early days of the lockdown. Today, however, we are not only delivering to 26000+ pin codes, but our orders are also back to pre-COVID levels,” he informed.

Alagh pointed out three solutions/innovations that every company should be focusing on for the post-COVID world. First is building a robust digital marketing strategy. “At Mamaearth, we have always had a digital-first strategy. Our customers have largely discovered our products online, rather than at a retail store. While this may seem like an unusual strategy for an FMCG, it helped us carve a real niche for our products,” he said.

Second is one’s own eCommerce website. “It’s good to rely on channels like Flipkart, Amazon, Nykaa, etc. for boosting your sales, but you need to have your website. It will give you a lot more control over your sales and marketing strategy, especially in uncertain times,” he pointed out.

And third is a focus on innovation in the supply chain since social distancing can create a bottleneck, said Alagh. “It will really help to rethink both manufacturing and logistics and come up with a lean, innovative approach. One of the things that really worked in our favour is the fact all our manufacturing is local,” he added.

For Rahul Mishra, Head of Marketing & Communications, Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd, certain categories like digital and television offerings did see a spike.

“The crisis presented an opportunity for our pre-loaded devotional speakers, retail-focused vertical. We decided to use technology by bringing devotees closer through ‘Shemaroo Devices Digital Experience Zone’, which offers instant access to the audio content of Shemaroo speakers such as Bhajan Vaani and Bhagavad Gita once the booking is made. Consumers can start listening to their favourite content as the delivery services resume once the lockdown eases. We now work with our key retail partners to engage with their consumer base by making life lessons from Shemaroo Bhagavad Gita accessible online. We continue to build relevance for ours and the retailer’s brand, which is missing out on the footfalls spreading positivity in this crisis too”, remarked Mishra.

Prashant Deorah, MD & CEO, Puretech Digital shared top priorities for Retail and Manufacturing Industries. First is adopting new channels that customers want to interact with and consume. “The new normal is for the customer to complete their micro shopping, through channels like Facebook, WhatsApp, and in few cases text messaging as well,” said Deorah.

He also recommended streamlining dataflow and digital assets. “Organizations will need to assess their Digital Assets (Product Information) and rethink implementing systems to organize and create a single source of truth for all Product Information to enable all digital channels to consume the same information be it product churn or product inventory/updates,” he said.

Lastly, Salesforce launched a State of Marketing report, which stated, “In addition to expanded online populations, marketers in India also expect that augmented reality and voice technology will also bring transformational impacts by 2030.” This gives hope for brands to revamp their strategies and kick start their businesses.

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