Purpose-driven marketing will be critical for brands post-COVID: Industry experts

Marketing experts share their views on how brands should maintain their core principles while conceptualising purpose-led campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Published: May 18, 2020 9:04 AM  | 6 min read
Purpose Driven Campaigns Post COVID

In this unprecedented COVID stricken times, brand loyalty from the consumer stems from the thought process on the greater good the brand is doing for society. The crisis has changed consumer behaviour and purchase patterns. Brands will have to develop new communication to speak to their consumers. A communication that isn’t rooted in the ideology of consumerism at this point will gain more attraction. But will this be the new normal going forward?

According to Prashant Deorah, MD & CEO, Puretech Digital, COVID-19 has certainly prompted many brands that did not traditionally have large CSR initiatives to introduce greater purpose in their overall marketing. He shared, “In the longer run, given the economic havoc, that the lockdown is bound to create, most brands will be more concerned about sustenance than CSR. Those that already have strong CSR practices, will continue to invest, and COVID and its fallout will likely consume a large percentage of the pie.”

Speaking about maintaining core values while conceptualizing Purpose-driven campaigns Atul Shrivastava, CEO, Laqshya Media Group says, “As an organization, Laqshya Media Group believes in standing by our front line warriors. Keeping true to that corporate value, we have created a campaign saluting our real superheroes. This campaign was featured across our social media handles and picked up for publishing by ‘The Free Press Journal’ on their front page. As a CSR initiative, we have provided sanitizing stations and hand sanitizers with special dispensers for Police Personnel in Mumbai. Brand marketers were already giving importance to tangible purpose and COVID -19 has been a further impetus to it. What brands associate with now and how true they remain to their promises will decide which brands will be favoured in the post-COVID world, when people will be buying only essentials and will be shying away from extravagant spending.”

Purpose-driven marketing will be the most critical aspect for a brand, in the ‘post’ COVID environment. Harsha Belavady, Chief Revenue Officer, KLAY Pre-schools and Day Care remarks, “There is no going away from the fact that there will be a new normal, one which will force consumers to re-look at their consumption patterns, thus altering consumer purchase behaviour significantly. Brands will need to adapt to this very quickly. This pandemic has brought people together as no other event has, and this phenomenon is only expected to deepen in the future. We already know that consumers prefer brands that are purpose-driven and brands must adopt this approach for the benefit of the larger society. Importantly, we should know that we are all in this together, and as responsible brands, we must build and focus on ‘walking-the-talk’ by enabling a world that is better and more connected than the one we lived in before the pandemic.”

Kartik Johari, Vice President, Nobel Hygiene believes that Brand Purpose marketing is not merely ‘in-vogue’, this is a demand from the ‘early-adopter’ consumer set, of the market and brands they are engaging with.

Johari remarks, “All brands will have to start thinking about their entire value chain, and truly find a core value that they and their product believes in. Saying anything is not enough, consumers will have to see that you are making a conscious decision. Whether it is about supporting equality amongst sex and genders, across backgrounds and caste, supporting special groups like the Army or orphans, or about being environmentally conscious, and needs to embed the cause into its very ethos. Anything less is pandering and is the death of honesty. Let being authentic be the guiding principle for brands to find their purpose.”

Sharing his views Abhishek Gupta, CMO, Edelweiss Tokio Life, shared, “Brands have recognized the overwhelming need to step-up during the ongoing pandemic which has resulted in a surge in CSR support across sectors. Responsible corporate citizenship has been a crucial part of our culture at Edelweiss Tokio Life. A lot of our employees do volunteer work on a regular basis for several NGOs through EdelGive Foundation. We have been associated with several causes over the course of the last 10 years, the prominent one being organ donation. Alike us, many brands promote this culture of community outreach. In fact, as we begin to rebuild and return to normalcy, purpose marketing will play a key part in restoring confidence among its stakeholder. So, I would expect purpose marketing to find a higher prominence in the aftermath of Covid-19.”

It is paramount that the brand’s core values reflect in its CSR initiatives states, Gupta. He says, “Your audience determines the purpose, and persona of the brand depending on its initiatives. It tells them what kind of brand you are. The reason we found resonance in the cause of organ donation is that it personifies #ZindagiUnlimited.”

Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO, Co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea comments, “Empathy, kindness, collaboration is what is helping us sail through in these times. A large population will be rendered helpless at the end of all of this. Companies will need to come forward and help people out of this misery. There are two aspects to CSR. The groundwork and the conversation around it. I would love to watch brands divert their purpose marketing spends towards implementation and for moving things on the ground. Using unpaid PR to reach out to people. I would love to see the advertising fraternity use austerity to create chatter. There is only one direction that the money should move in that is implementation.”

Lastly, noting his thoughts down, Alvin D'Souza, Managing partner, 121XP commented that disruptions caused by the virus outbreak have left deep impacts on consumer behaviour and preferences. He shared, “Customers are now increasingly exercising caution on what, where, and how they buy. Demand is expected to surge in specific categories - semi-essential and regular consumption category that do not qualify for the ‘essential’ tag. However, with brand loyalty amongst consumers is at its lowest, Purpose marketing-led campaigns, with an aim to form a connection that’s more meaningful to the consumer, is the need of the hour.”

D’souza concluded saying, “While most organizations recognize the importance of, ‘giving back,’ they aren’t always accustomed to creating content around their efforts in a way that will both engage their audience and drive them to participate. Success in this arena is all about developing the right strategy and executing it in an authentic, organic way that brings mutual benefit to everyone involved.”

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