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Growing Relevance Of Social Listening In The Indian Retail Sector

Social listening deepens a brand’s understanding about its current and potential audiences, keeps the brands abreast of the real time shifts in customer conversations and preferences. In today’s hugely volatile consumers market, it will be social listening and adoption of this scientific social tool which will land brands that much needed market advantage.

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When millions of customers are on social media chatting about their preferences, likes and dislikes, trends and favourite brands, social listening matters. Done right, social listening, which means finding out where conversations are happening, what is being said, and actively engaging in them, can prove to be a gold mine for India's retail landscape. From this listening can emerge facts and findings on what the consumer wants, what engages him/her and what alludes to their senses

Before we get into the benefits of social listening for the Indian retail industry, let's consider how the retail sector is fairing, today.

Current trends in the retail sector

The retail industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in India. It accounts for over 10 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and around 8 percent of employment generation. This makes India the world's fifth-largest global destination in terms of the retail.

The Indian retail industry reached US$950 billion in 2018 at a CAGR of 13% and was forecasted to reach US$1.1 trillion by 2020. E-commerce is one of the fiercest driving forces behind the growth of Indian retail sector. Revenue generated from online retail was projected to reach US$60 billion by 2020, whereas revenue from brick and mortar retailer stores was expected to increase by approximately US$1.39-2.77 billion in FY20.

However, it is important to note that these numbers would have changed dramatically in the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

What are the challenges retailers face?

The retail sector is continually changing with new challenges surfacing every day. In the current scenario, how to continue to engage the customer amid the pandemic while tackling decline in sales are the two biggest challenges being faced by retail brands. Additionally, keeping up with ever-changing customer expectations, change in buying preferences and customer behaviour are keeping the brand teams pacing to change dynamics at a lightning speed. What they want, what are the issues they are facing, how can you fill a market gap, and more, are the burning questions that brands seek answers to.

This is not all. Managing customer communication, driving positive sentiment, ensuring the brand marketing efforts are effective, and standing apart from the competition, are other hurdles brands need to maneuver disruptively.

How social listening can revolutionize the retail sector

Drive better customer engagements: Providing enhanced customer experience is the key to success for every retail brand. Social listening can help brands track customer interactions, understand trends, be in tune with exactly what the customer wants, respond to queries faster, and ensure customer delight. Social listening is that one tool that can land a retail brand an extra advantage and ultimately build brand loyalty by helping the brand go that extra mile to deliver a brand experience beyond customer expectations.

Conduct market research: Social listening can help brands stay abreast of rapidly changing market trends and adapt accordingly. What is the biggest customer concern and what is the current customer demand – social listening can give brands deep seeded answers to all these questions. The brands can use these insights to improve their product offering and develop new products/features that fulfil the customer demand, need and want.

Discover key influencers: Influencers drive awareness and positive sentiment about a brand. But with new influencers popping up every day, how do brands identify the effective ones. Social listening can prove to be very handy here. By heeding to social conversations, brands can recognize which influencers generate the most impact and align with these focussed few to drive brand goals.

Personalize marketing campaigns: We are living in an era of personalization. Personalized messaging, offers, loyalty programs, suggested products, etc., can prove to be the key differentiators. By understanding what customers are looking for, via social listening, brands can customise their marketing efforts to target consumers better, drive conversion, build relationships, improve customer experiences, emotionally connect with customers and create a loyal customer base.

Increase sales: Any retail business ultimately wants to increase its sales. Social listening can enable brands to garner leads. If a customer is contemplating over two brands, social listening can help a brand influence and sway brand decisions; provide the customer with all the information they need to make the decision and lock the sale. It can help find sales leads, obtain new customers and get an edge over competitors.

In closing

The fact that brands need to engage in social listening is non-negotiable. Today the brand wars are fought over social media where the customers and their peer groups mostly reside. Social listening is that one pivotal tool that had emerged as key to drive brand advantage. Social listening deepens a brand’s understanding about its current and potential audiences, keeps the brands abreast of the real time shifts in customer conversations and preferences. In today’s hugely volatile consumers market, it will be social listening and adoption of this scientific social tool which will land brands that much needed market advantage.

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.


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Social Listening retail market

Nikitesh Joshi

The author is Delivery Director, India ATCS

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