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Embracing CHANGE in the COVID world

With no possible predictive data based on past trends, the winning organisations are the ones who have adapted overnight, kept their nose to the ground and differentiated the critical from the important.

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Embracing CHANGE in the COVID world

The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is the new definition of global crisis ever since the Second World War. Nations are racing to control the spread of the virus, economies have been grappling with uncertain situations that they probably never foresaw, and organisations are having to look & re-look at their business plans for now & the very near future.

With no possible predictive data based on past trends, the winning organisations are the ones who have adapted overnight, kept their nose to the ground and differentiated the critical from the important. Quoting a popular proverb that goes with the saying- Sweet are the uses of adversity, the pandemic has delivered valuable insights for businesses in every sector of the economy. It’s fascinating to watch how different organisations have been trying to upskill and reskill their business & their employees, revealing their creativity not just in the form of compelling campaigns that are socially & contextually relevant for the consumers, but also how & with what products they’re servicing the consumer.  It’s a classic case of ‘may the best player win’. Every organisation is putting its best foot forward to win with the consumer in this new context.

As a marketer, I feel businesses need to be more responsible now and use this time to keep themselves relevant & connected in a greater way to the consumers. Amid the disruption that is going to arrive even more in the upcoming times, the only thing that is going to stay constant is CHANGE. CHANGE is the acronym for the six vital areas that are going to steal the marketers’ focus in the recent scenario.  


 


  • Creation of community groups

It is important for brands to develop, partner, nurture and value-add to relevant communities for meaningful interaction. For Sensodyne, it’s been the expert/healthcare practitioner (dentists) community, who are advocates of the brand. This is a time when staying connected with the dentists is key, to facilitate deliver content that enriches their world of knowledge, letting them stay in touch with patients remotely through common platforms, understanding their need for a safe operating environment, including safety kits and awareness programs at their clinics to let patients know that due diligence is being taken. Meaningful partnership at this time will earn long term respect and credibility for brands. Similarly, tapping into consumer cohorts and seeing their food experiment patterns at home, gives a meaningful connect with consumers – the thought that inspired the “for the love of” campaign from Sensodyne. 


  • Hard listening instead of hard-selling

One thing that marketers will need to understand is that their potential customers are more educated and aware than ever, especially as we live in this pandemic. The only way to develop loyalty among consumer base is by paying attention to the current and estimated needs & by being a responsible marketer – be it increased health awareness & consciousness which manifests itself into better food choices or better ways to take care of oneself, or easy-to-do DIY kits, differentiated entertainment or remote connect services and offerings. Combine it with easy availability, simple connect, rationality, efficacy and you have a winning mix. Easier said than done, though!

Having said this, trust has become a critical differentiator for consumers. Does the brand really get me? Is the brand speaking to me or connecting with me? This has changed the game greatly for marketers who are looking to establish vital connections with potential and existing buyers. It is advisable to listen more and understand what your consumer wants and deliver to them accordingly. Like “For the Love of” campaign, we understood that people were staying home and indulging in their favourite food and drinks. Hence the campaign urged people to stay home and rekindle the relationship with their favourites. It showcased some of the most loved hot and cold food/drinks that could be prepared at home and cherished. Each one of us have our favourites, whether it is a steaming hot Chai to begin the day with, the childhood favourite Ice Popsicle, the old summertime favourite Kulfi, or the trending Dalgona coffee. Some of the posts were customized to appeal to the regional audiences with favourites such as a chilled Kokum in West, Puchka in East, hot Rasam in South. The role of the brand is that Sensodyne enables you to enjoy your favourite foods/drinks without worrying about tooth sensitivity. Moving forward, we will keep reading what people are feeling now that they’ve been largely at home for the last few months – and how as a brand could we connect with that emotion.


  • Alteration of Business Models

The current scenario has affected supply chain, product launches, employee well-being and business continuity all over the world. As businesses start adapting themselves in a lockdown scenario, the challenge remains to again resume back to normal operations. Organisations need to learn from this experience and develop situation-resilient & situation-agnostic business models, that enable quick flexibility in future times. Digital will play an even more critical role across functions.

It’s more about understanding where the consumer is shopping and making sure you are available in that channel. It is also about prioritizing the part of your portfolio which you should know will be in high demand rotation. Therefore, the entire alteration is about intelligent and fast choices, and clear communication to the frontline for sharp execution.


  • New avataar of digital 

The Covid scenario has opened doors for more exploration of digital. Besides the flexibility in messaging, use of the right mix of digital enables us to garner valuable insights to understand the platforms that consumers are engaging in. We launched For The Love Of campaign on digital platforms, and the response received was incredible. The right data enabled us to talk to the consumer at the right time, using weather targeting to display specific ads to the consumers. For example, when it’s raining in Delhi, we talked about ‘cherishing Delhi rains with your steaming hot cup of Chai’ through specific ads. 

Innovation remains a key for GSK, where we use the right dosage of digital to adapt ourselves with the changing times. As mentioned earlier too, we continue to integrate virtual in our communication with our partners through Expert First and connect with doctors and experts through remote calling by WhatsApp and Skype, Webinars and Facebook Live sessions. The constant touch with our influencers- the experts ensured we remain a trusted brand among our consumers even during the crisis. 


  • Growth of the Utilitarian approach

One of the key takeaways from the pandemic is the kind of budget shortage that has become persistent in the economy. Brands should try to communicate the utility of the product and try to remain as relevant as possible to its audience- whether in terms of product offerings or messaging. Know your positioning and don’t change. You as a brand have a role in the lives of the consumer – highlight the utility and relevance even more so. This would ensure a brand walking the extra mile in maintaining its equity among consumers.


  • Empathy in communication

A survey by Google has revealed that today’s consumers are not interested in only passively consuming content. Rather, they are actively seeking out content that prompts change, in both themselves and/or the world around them. 

For Sensodyne too, the very existence of its launch in India was due to an insight on people suffering from tooth sensitivity yet being unaware of the condition and associating its treatment with a toothpaste. Through expert led advertising, they let consumers know that their pain was treatable, and that it had a name. For years, Sensodyne has been considered as a leader in the sensitivity toothpaste segment and we feel this empathetic communication has an important role to play in it. 

Similarly, in the Covid era, brands should utilise their consumer listening skills and use insights to develop empathetic messaging that will help them gain preference among consumers.


Observing these aspects, marketers will have to stay consistent, relevant, yet agile for their consumers at all times. As good ships are built to bear the storm, similarly a good marketing strategy goes a long way in withholding trust among existing consumers as well as winning new hearts!


Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Anurita Chopra

Area Marketing Lead- OH, GSK Consumer Healthcare

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