'Panasonic has adopted omnichannel strategy to cater to consumers across channels'
Brands are focussing more on emotions to engage with audience now, says Pooja Garg Khan, Head Corporate Communications, Panasonic India in the latest edition of ‘e4m PR and Corp Comm Festive Series’
Consumer durables and electronics companies have been adaptive enough to capitalise on the festivities this year by betting big on digital. Compared to last year's flat festive sales, companies witnessed a double-digit growth till now during Diwali. The festive vibes have seemingly dulled the lockdown lull with marketers and communicators re-strategizing and re-thinking in this new normal.
Panasonic has been playing its omnichannel strategy as its trump card during this festive season to open a new set of avenues for the brand to tap the altered consumer behaviour. In our latest edition of ‘e4m PR and Corp Comm Festive Series’, we speak to Pooja Garg Khan, Head Corporate Communications, Panasonic India on re-strategizing communications and marketing plans for the new normal scenario, learnings for the past months of lockdown, leveraging digital in this festive season, take on influencer marketing and more.
How have the past months been for the organization? What were the key learnings?
Be it during the first few months of a lockdown or now when we are in the unlock phase, pre-requisite for us at Panasonic is employee and customer safety along with planning business continuity. From a communications perspective, the need of the hour is to think of innovative ways to engage with our stakeholders while staying relevant and adding value. Innovation, empathy and relevance have been our tools to survive these unprecedented times. At Panasonic, we focused on creating content with positive and relevant messaging with a focus on human approach over a product-centric one. For example, during the lockdown phase, we used our digital platforms to highlight government initiatives, DIY videos on servicing appliances, online workshops on photography, amplifying our employees’ voice by sharing their WFH Hacks, among other engagements.
What is your outlook for the current year, assuming COVID impact will last till early 2021?
It is a road to recovery! Today, consumers are slowly getting accustomed to the new normal lifestyle with digitization, safety and value proposition taking precedence; and an omnichannel strategy will play a crucial role in helping sustain businesses. Our consumer durables business is picking steam with people opting for home appliances that help them multi-task and make their lives easier in absence of domestic help.
With the increase in online traffic and digital getting a major push, how did the brand leverage digital?
Digital is a key touchpoint, even more so in today’s time when digital usage is at its peak. We have leveraged it to keep our consumers and employees engaged with relevant communication. The focus was to create content that is real and relatable to the audience and hence we leveraged our in-house brand ambassadors - Panasonic employees to drive engagement. During the initial lockdown, we started a campaign called ‘WFH Hacks’ on our social media platforms wherein Panasonic employees shared their work from home hacks and encouraged other to share theirs, and it witnessed good engagement as people could relate to it. We also ran another solutions-oriented campaign ‘LifeAtPanasonicHomes’ wherein Panasonic employees shared how their home appliances had become their companions in getting through with the tough times, be is helping them clean, cook, work or entertain. Even from a business point of view, we leveraged digital platforms to launch new products, be it Lumix cameras, Panasonic new Nanoe Hair Dryer or Panasonic Home office solution. Our content strategy of focusing on digital has worked well as the brand engagement with the consumers has been at an all-time high, with a 10-12% increase in the engagement rate as compared to last year.
What has been the shift in brand communication around these COVID infected months? What are the new trends that have stepped in the communications industry?
Raw is the new real; people engage with what they can relate to. Hence, it is imperative to be authentic and relevant in your messaging and product offerings. Communicating informative and value-oriented messages with empathy should be the approach to connect with stakeholders be it consumers, employees or business partners.
Brands are focussing more on emotions to engage with the audience now. Our strategy at Panasonic has been to take the solution and not sell approach as it facilitates a sense of community and social support to people while staying true to their brand promise and philosophy.
Social listening is also the key, as it helps to observe and understand public sentiment. And knowing that it plays an important role in brand building as it helps in tracking sentiment and responding proactively.
How has consumer behaviour changed? How did your brand manage to stay relevant in its communication?
Consumers have accepted the new normal where safety, social distancing, and hygiene has taken precedence. Consumers have identified a need to make their living spaces a better one as they understand they will spend more time at home than outside, even when the situation normalises. People are investing in value-based products that enable them to multi-task. For instance, LED TVs (entertainment), Connected ACs, Vacuum Cleaners and Air Purifiers (hygiene), Refrigerators & Microwave Ovens (food storage & DIY cooking) and Trimmers (grooming) are being preferred to address the consumers’ evolved needs.
At Panasonic, our efforts are focused on consistently upgrading our touchpoints; both online and offline, hence we have adopted an omnichannel strategy to not only drive sales but drive consumer engagement to provide a seamless experience across channels to our consumers. We have been engaging with consumer and employees through our various initiatives on digital as well such as hosting virtual photography sessions, cooking sessions with celebrity home chefs, styling sessions by influencers, etc.
What are the areas that the brand is investing in during the festive chatter? What are the major festive season campaigns that the brand is focusing on?
At Panasonic, we have introduced 'New Dreams New Celebrations' for our consumers to make the festive purchases accessible, affordable and durable for the consumers. Have introduced a range of promotional offers, extended warranties, bundled offers and attractive consumer finance offers across our product categories such as Televisions, Refrigerators, Washing Machines, Air-Conditioners, Microwaves, Lumix Cameras, Beauty and lifestyle products - to meet the heightened needs of our tech-savvy customers.
Apart from offering centric communications, we are running cause-related awareness campaign named #DiwaliWaliSafai on our social media encourages consumers to be more responsible this Diwali with their cleaning by giving their old unused electronic devices for recycling. #DiwaliWaliSafai by Panasonic is an endeavour to not only educate but also help consumers to responsibly dispose of their E-waste by offering free of cost home pick-ups for large appliances and assistance in identifying closest collection centres. We are running another campaign #DiwaliWithPanasonic on our social platforms featuring Panasonic employees sharing their stories of celebrating Diwali with Panasonic appliances.
What is your take on influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing also plays an important role in the consumer decision journey across the purchase cycle, whether its initial consideration stage, search stage or purchase stage. It definitely is one of the key touchpoints through which consumers validate the brand speak/claim. In current times, we are collaborating with influencers to engage with our consumers keeping the content real and relatable. We have collaborated with celebrity home chefs such as Kabita’s Kitchen and Kanak’s Kitchen to share easy microwave festive recipes and with leading lifestyle influencers for at-home styling sessions. We have also been organizing virtual photography workshops titled #PassionNeverRests with industry’s leading photography experts to help consumers hone their skills.
With rebooted operations and sales everywhere, what are your expectations from the festive season?
Focus is on consumer experience by offering more value whether it is through affordable finance schemes, extended warranty, hygienic service (same day installation service). We aim to benefit consumers by offering a combination of quality products and quality content in an endeavour to make their celebrations more delightful. We have seen a positive start to this festive season with growth across home appliances. We have adopted an omnichannel strategy at Panasonic to cater to consumers across channels. The offline channels continue to contribute towards the majority of our business and we are working closely with partners to boost their sales and investing in targeted digital promotions. We see a trend of consumers researching online and then visiting the stores to complete their purchases quickly.
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