Marketing for the ‘New Normal’: In-store conversations go online

Guest Column: Satish NS, the Senior VP, Marketing & Sales, Haier India, writes why and how marketers need to evolve as patterns of consumption are poised to change

e4m by Satish NS
Updated: Jun 2, 2020 1:07 PM
Satish NS

As India grapples with a new way of life and the crisis of COVID-19 peaks, most industries are suffering leading to brands bearing the brunt of this pandemic. Lockdown restrictions have kept customers away from brick and mortar retail stores, logistical issues have severely affected the supply chain and businesses have come to a stand-still.

And in between all of this, the current crisis is intensifying pressure on marketers who are expected to ride this wave of a public health crisis. The most critical question one should be asking as a marketer right now is not 'How can I sell more?’. Rather, it's 'How do we help customers in this time?’. Marketers across industries are trying to redesign their business models and the white goods industry is no exception.

The COVID-19 has led to a paradigm shift in the consumer behaviour, in a sense that the pandemic has changed the way we work, shop and communicate with people more than any other disruption in the recent past. Post the pandemic, the inflection point will be primarily shaped by two major shifts in consumer behaviour - the reluctance to mingle in crowded public places and a higher propensity for digital adoption. In the times to come, we will be seeing a sudden change in consumers’ behaviour where we will notice that even traditional buyers who were apprehensive of shopping online, will start turning to that.

While most of the industries will be leveraging the e-commerce platforms heavily, however for large appliances industry, the shop floor will remain to play a pivotal role. For consumers, ‘touch and feel’ factor will continue to remain a crucial part of shopping. The change that we will notice more evidently is that consumers will now opt to do the product research online and spend minimal time in the store to choose the appliance of their choice.

Another alteration that is going to change the game for the consumer appliances industry is that in the post-COVID world, consumers will be spending a majority of their time being confined to their homes. This means that consumers will constantly be on the lookout to enhance their living style with smarter and larger appliances.

The availability and rising affordability of a wide range of high technology products have given rise to a new sort of consumer, a more tech-savvy prospective buyer, who wants to communicate with their smart home, languish in the comfort, luxury and security that it offers. We will see consumers opting for larger refrigerators, fully automatic washing machines, air purifiers, smart AC’S, dishwashers, Vacuum Cleaners, etc. With these new inventions focused upon uplifting the standards of living, consumers now have access to a new world with tailor-made customized smart products according to their lifestyle and preferences.

Keeping in mind the economic slowdown and the recession accelerating at its peak due to unprecedented times. Also, on the rise will be easy consumer financing schemes, companies will be leveraging flexi EMI’s with zero down-payments, cashback offers, lucky draws, extended warranties, attractive offers, etc to lure customers.

Considering these changing trends, at Haier, we’re strategically creating our in-store virtual meets real-world customer experience for our users to make their buying decision easier and wholesome. With rising numbers of customers on the digital bandwagon, we’re revisiting our approaches and making them more tech-savvy. To provide a 360-degree experience, we’re uploading product manuals, price comparisons, enabling the use of Haier’s revolutionary self-cleaning technologies, demo videos of our appliances and detailing the features of our innovative appliances onto the digital world.

At Haier India, we are modifying our offerings to the current times while identifying future sales and consumption patterns. In conclusion, the consumers for every sector will remain the same, but the patterns of consumption, for the product and marketing effort, will change. And that's where the marketers also need to evolve. It’s time to re-think, reboot and revive in order to create a more engaging shopping experience for our consumers.

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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