2021 will be a year to know & understand your customer all over again: Nida Naushad

Shrugging off the disruptions of the year gone by, businesses and agencies are looking for a strong revival in 2021. Over the next few weeks, Adgully – as part of its annual TRENDING NOW endeavour – will be presenting the strategies and views of a cross-section of industry leaders as they go about reclaiming lost time and market opportunities and build for a stronger future, armed with the lessons of 2020.

The COVID-19 disruptions notwithstanding, CARS24 was among the 11 Indian start-ups that entered the Unicorn club in 2020. Founded in 2015, the online used car marketplace raised a total funding of $393.8 million.

In conversation with Adgully, Nida Naushad, Head of Brand, CARS24, speaks about the emerging trends in the field of marketing/ branding in 2021, the evolving consumer behaviour trends, as well as the key learnings from 2020.

Outlook for 2021

The pandemic has disrupted consumer behaviour like ever before and it’s becoming clearer that we won’t be able to go completely back to “normal” when it’s over. Hence, 2021 should be the year to know and understand your customer all over again. Talking to them, finding out what matters to them, and then creating solutions to their problems will result in a more long-term relationship with the brand.

Few emerging trends in the field of marketing/ branding have been encountered and amplified in the pandemic era:

  • Personalised, data-driven disruptive marketing-

Hyper personalisation is an upcoming trend that has been one of the key highlights in the virtual world and to stay connected to your audience. I think we’ll be seeing more video marketing while communicating with potential buyers. This will also be a differentiator among the competition. Companies that can build relationships and stay connected “virtually” to their audience will be very important.

  • Strong Story-telling Narrative-

Gone are the times where you can do ‘one-size-fits-all’ advertisement for a longer time. In the contemporary world of social media, topical moments play a very strong communication pillar. More forms of short and long-form video/ static moment marketing will become a norm to survive in the “virtually connected world’.

  • User-Generated Content will be the disruptor

A more thought-provoking and building credence way form of advertising has taken one step ahead from our branded content. The power of social media reviews, testimonials, posts, and experience blogs acts as a key influence in the decision of the modern-day consumer.

I think these trends in the marketing world will play an important role in redefining the brand connection. Talking about revival, as more consumers are convinced to make purchases online, we should expect more brands to spend on virtual experiences. Brands will surely focus on spending online, experimenting through different marketing channels and strategies, rather than relying on on-ground events.

Consumer behaviour trends

The alarming spread of the virus globally and finding new strains of it, has raised safety and hygiene concerns around the globe. The situation in India is nothing different. As per our internal research, we have gathered that people’s intent to travel in personal mobility over public transportation has gone up by 41%. Thus, catering to this need, our buyer side/ demand side recovery has been faster than the seller side, as a used car is the best and pocket-friendly option for a potential owner.

Moreover, we have seen good response for our Home Inspection model. The customers adapting to the new normal are seeking ‘Convenience’ as the key factor. This will be a game-changer in the pre-owned car online auto industry.

Learnings from 2020

Owing to the unprecedented times of COVID-19, people are adopting ‘New normal practices such as social distancing, work from home and virtual interactions. Thus, more time is spent online for all types of activities – surfing, socialising, shopping, and entertainment. Internet penetration in India is close to 34% and the time spent on mobile/ Internet has gone up during the initial months of the pandemic.

Undergoing this crisis has led a lot of brands to be more socially responsible and increase their customer centricity through innovation in their product offerings and servicing portfolios. We, at CARS24, believed in this same philosophy – in the initial lockdown period, we launched our HOME24 campaign educating customers to stay at home and subsequently scaled our Home Inspection service pan-India. Now, the customer can sell his/her car from the comfort of their homes. In the early months of the Unlock, 80% of our customers have availed of this service. Also, in terms of customer experience, safety and hygiene practices are a deal-maker or deal-breaker for a customer. Hence, a renewal in customer experience, for instance, looking for safe travel precautions, ordering essentials online, at home-request services such as grooming and maintenance have seen a surge. 

As a brand, we have been prudent in our marketing/ advertising practices and have been adopting innovative initiatives such as exploring a digital-first approach by launching the Dhoni campaign on digital before the TVC telecast.

Another major disruption is the data-led marketing from tracking the customer trends in real-time, analysing and gathering insights from data, and then acting upon such marketing decisions. This way it is a more cost-conscious outlook in the COVID era, where the customer behaviour highly depends upon external factors.


News in the domain of Advertising, Marketing, Media and Business of Entertainment

More in Exclusives