Brands need to understand customer sentiments more now than ever: Parag Kulkarni

Like the rest of India, the East and North-East markets are in a resurgent mood. Amid COVID-29 protocols, the shopping frenzy is well underway. Markets are seeing the return of shoppers. Experts believe that this is not just revenge shopping, but also a re-assertion and reclaiming of a life that one was living before the pandemic struck.

This festive season, Adgully has been turning the spotlight on the East and North-East markets and speaking to a cross-section of brands, marketers and market experts to gauge the mood of the shoppers and brand sentiments.

In conversation with Adgully, Parag Kulkarni, Managing Director, A. O. Smith India, speaks about the market sentiments seen this festive season, changing consumer preferences, as well as how the company is strengthening its omni-channel strategy and making the ‘phygital’ model more seamless.

What kind of sentiments are you seeing in the markets during this festive season? Are these sentiments close to the pre-COVID levels?

The industry is paving its way back to normal with the onset of the festive season. We have already seen signs of recovery from July-August, and with the vaccination drive gaining momentum, brands are expecting to have a good festive this year. There is an improvement in consumer outlook, and we are seeing good traction not only in the metros, but also in Tier 2 and 3 cities across the country, driven by reverse migration.

The concern about health and hygiene has risen over the past 18 months and as a result, products like water purifiers and water heaters are likely to benefit from this focus. We are optimistic that this trend will continue for the coming months and consumer sentiment will remain positive. An important factor that will prove to be an added advantage for our brand are the new product introductions we launched in this past year in both the water heater and water purifier categories. We expect these new products will drive sales and have a strong appeal to consumers.

How are you planning your strategy for online and offline sales? What kind of footfalls are you expecting during this festival period?

We believe, brands need to understand customer sentiments more now than ever and communication has to be very focused. Our marketing approach will have a 360-degree influence on our consumers, reaching out across touch points to address the complete consumer journey. We are focused on digital platforms and have plans to use print as a multiplier medium. With respect to messaging, we will continue to emphasise the health and hygiene aspect for both our water heater and purifier categories, which has helped us to connect effectively with consumers.

From a channel perspective, there is a significant impetus on maximising our impact within traditional channels – general trade and modern retail. With more people feeling comfortable shopping in traditional retail stores, we are addressing the rising demand from this channel, while also leveraging e-commerce to maximise sales. We are one of the most active brands in our categories on e-commerce, and we are strengthening our online presence this year through dedicated product offerings and differentiated marketing activities.

These focused mediums of promotion, combined with our successful product launches and improving channel demand, have us feeling positive about the festive period.


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