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BW Businessworld

Mistakes Brands Should Avoid this Festive Season

Brands must make themselves available across purchase funnels, while staying tuned-in to evolving consumer psychologies. The mood on the street shows people are struggling to not have the pandemic dominate their lives, while still prioritizing safety.

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Brands are astutely keeping an ear to the ground as new trends continue to emerge from the Covid landscape. Those who know us well, will have heard us use the phrase ‘tsunami or surf’. There are worrying tides of change that can grow in momentum until they crush the brand that fails to adapt. And then there are waves that present a wonderful swell of opportunity for brands that capture the zeitgeist.  

As we troop through the pandemic, brands are observing dramatic changes in consumer behavior driven by considerations of availability, convenience, and safety. Whether these trends shall sustain in the post-Covid scenario or not is yet to be seen. 

The immediate need however, remains to leverage the upcoming festive season by responding judiciously to the current mindset of the consumer. A YouGov survey reveals an uptick in consumer sentiment with 43% of Indian consumers showing a willingness to spend more than last year on indulgences this Diwali, despite the economic downturn. 18% in the same survey revealed wanting to spend as much as last year. This is a good time to capitalize on the festive mood by leveraging the online shopping momentum in addition to offering an astute in-store experience. 

Brands must make themselves available across purchase funnels, while staying tuned-in to evolving consumer psychologies. The mood on the street shows people are struggling to not have the pandemic dominate their lives, while still prioritizing safety.

  • Dressed-up Store-fronts not Enough

Human connection will be the biggest casualty of this festival season. While visiting our loved ones remains on pause, a welcoming grin from a store employee from behind a Plexiglas, still has the power to lift fatigued spirits. This ability to deliver human connections is where brick and mortar retail stores score advantage points over digital. Attention to hygiene and safety standards, easy-to-navigate shelves to speed-up the consumer’s exposure to a public space, contactless check-out and well informed staff to help navigate the discovery all have a role to play this festive season.      

  • Patch Work Measures

Purpose-led brands in times of crisis find deep resonance with consumers. Edelman’s latest “Trust Barometer” survey revealed that 70% respondents expect brands to contribute towards the fight against the pandemic through their operations and human resource policies to protect their employees. However, brands should refrain from hastily jumping on the purpose-led wagon through short-term inauthentic measures just to build differentiation. Consumers expect brands to stay true to their commitments and follow through with transparency. Unless these promises are measurable, meaningful and sustainable, patchy attempts will have long-term adverse implications hurting brand value.

A McKinsey led research (“Preparing for the next downturn,” April 2007) revealed that during past downturns, brands that successfully delivered better consumer experiences, built better brand connect and emerged stronger than similar business as the economy recovered. They also produced three times larger than average shareholder returns. 

What brands need right now is to build meaningful connections with their consumers and deliver real value. Towards that, mark-downs, deals and slashed rates might not be a sustainable route to take. 

At the outset consumers may seem to respond more favorably to direct discounts than indirect ones. However, this will only attract the one-and–done deal seekers not helping with customer acquisition. Too much or frequent discounting also holds the danger of diluting the brand positioning.  

Free shipping, extended returns, great customer-service, inventory availability are sustainable approaches that will attract new customers while keeping the existing ones happy. Building collaborative content to keep consumers engaged through perhaps flash sales or community building efforts helps them partner in the brands journey, building communities in the long run and keeping even the most distracted consumer engaged.

 These measures will drive more long-term value than simply slashing rates, which alone will fail to create any deep emotional connections.

New campaigns and strategies are a process— requiring research and consideration. It needs attention, commitment and hard work to build a lifelong relationship with your consumer. Taking a coffee-date cavalier approach is never profitable in the long term, much less in today’s times.   

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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Ashwini Pable

The author is Strategic Consultant Director, bluemarlin

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