‘Being authentic, genuine & truthful is the mantra to remain relevant to consumers’

In our first interaction for the ‘e4m PR and Corporate Communications Festive Series’, we speak to Kinshuk Gupta, Head, Communications and CSR, India Sub-Continent, GSK Consumer Healthcare

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: Nov 4, 2020 3:12 PM
Kinshuk Gupta

As we move along with the norms of the New Normal that the world has embraced, industry leaders are now trying their best to design a strategy that meets customer expectations in these changing times. The festive season is usually the time for sales pushes via discounts and innovations but this year it is a bit different. Brands now want to utilize the festive spirit to win customers back and create brand awareness.

FMCG, considered the major contributor in festive advertising and marketing spends, is looking forward for an enhanced growth trajectory in the season. GSK Consumer Healthcare, one of the largest players in consumer healthcare companies, has been consistent with its sales and revenue because of being in essential category during the nationwide lockdown. With modified consumer sentiment along with revamped communications and marketing strategies and rebooted business operations, GSK is optimistic about this festive season.  

In our first edition of ‘e4m PR and Corporate Communications Festive Series’, we chat with Kinshuk Gupta, Head,Communications and CSR, India Sub-Continent, GSK Consumer Healthcare on the new facets of communications and marketing in the new normal festive season.

Edited excerpts:

How have the past six months been for the organization? What were the key learnings?

We are a global FMCH (fast moving consumer healthcare) brand and all our products are included in essentials, hence the revenues have been quite consistent. We did witness an initial slump but were quick to recover. The lockdown has posed a broad inequilibrium to the supply chain, especially with the social distancing norms imposed, eventually leading to a low operational level at factories. Our supplies are now normal and our products are now available across the country.  

Year 2020 has been a very different year, so I would say that our biggest priority will be to ensure that we all land 2020 well from a health and wellbeing perspective. Mental health and wellbeing remain one of the most critical agenda for us and we have effectively run that across the organisation. The second learning for the next few months will be to maintain ‘Brand Health’. Our brand must be extremely strong as we go onto the next year. The third one will be the commercial health - determining them so that we can take out the inefficiencies in our systems. Being resilient, agile and adaptive to changes are key lessons taught by these changing times. Newer trends have emerged like the rise in digital, e-commerce shopping etc. We were quite flexible to take a note of these changes and are able to incorporate them in our communication and marketing strategies to remain relevant to our consumers.

What is your outlook for the current year, assuming Covid’s impact will last till early 2021?

Covid-19 is definitely going to stay in the months to come. Lot of organisations, including ourselves, have become agile. 2020 has changed the ways of working for the entire world and it is no different for us. The post-Covid world will be completely different where people will be more considerate, adaptable and will value small things in life. The importance of family and friends that got ignored for years will take centrestage. Health is another aspect that will come to the fore in everyone’s lives. Lastly and more importantly, employees and organisations have started realising the importance of work-life balance.

From the marketing standpoint, we will continue with our focus on digital, not only through e-commerce but with other unique promotions. All our communications are devised keeping mobile devices in mind. There are some interesting launches lined up for this year and you will hear from us very soon.

With the increase in online traffic and digital getting a major push, how did the brand leverage digital?

Digital has always been a big focus area for us. To leverage it to its fullest, we believe in listening to consumers very closely and basis what they are looking for, we devise our communications strategy and offerings. This has immensely helped us in creating a huge brand equity and brand love amongst consumers. We speak the language the consumers understand better whether it is recreating recipes at home or a trending culinary delight - we pick it up from there and build campaigns around it.

A recent report by Google India has disclosed that there was a 20 per cent rise in overall searches for 'recipes' on YouTube in the recent few months. The insight of various culinary trends led to Eno’s popular #WhatARelief campaign, centred around instances like working from home, late lunches, reduced physical activity, change in eating habits and food experiments at home that are also known as potential triggers of acidity. The campaign was executed through humorous films released on digital platforms, besides also customising six second creatives for each recipe searched on YouTube.

Sensodyne’s ‘ForTheLoveOf” campaign was also extended during the lockdown, when it was observed that culinary items such as Dalgona coffee was trending on Twitter. We were already receiving a lot of appreciation for the initial phases of campaign; hence we decide to extend the campaign even more. Consumers are constantly in search of new content and this extended campaign with Puchka, popsicle, Dalgona coffee, Kokum etc. were also well received by them.

What has been the shift in brand communication in these Covid-hit months? What are the new trends that have come up in the communications industry?

As an organisation, we firmly believe that being authentic, genuine and truthful is the mantra to remain relevant to our consumers. It is mandatory for a brand to be genuine and honest with its consumers not only through its products but its communication as well.

As we adapt ourselves to a new normal, the best way would be to comprehend what our consumers want by staying connected with them. The key focus is to study prevailing trends and understand the consumer behaviour and keep adapting. Both ‘For The Love Of’ and ‘What A Relief campaign’ were framed entirely basis the observation, and this helped our consumers relate to them all the more.

What are the areas that the brand is investing in during the festive chatter?

For the festive chatter, Sensodyne launched the #ForTheLoveOfFestiveFavourites campaign that celebrates the festive spirit by encouraging people to keep the festive traditions alive, without the worry of tooth sensitivity. Two films for Durga Puja and Diwali were launched on digital platforms. The message is simple- while the festival celebrations may be a little different this year, we should continue to keep the food traditions alive.

Not only festive, we try to invest in interesting conversations in different brands the entire year-round.

What is your take on influencer marketing?

We have fantastic brands which are high on science. More than influencer marketing, we believe in expert marketing. Since we are a healthcare brand, our experts are the true influencers of our brand. With the superior performance and experience of our power brands, we are seeing immediate traction amongst consumers and experts both. Most of our brands are market leaders in the category and these influencers have a huge role to play in it.

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