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Challenges of enhancing customer brand experience in pandemic times

While we were still processing the previous lockdown, the country has be placed under another series of lockdowns, only this time they have been dubbed as ‘curfew’. Even though the government is not using the term ‘lockdown’, the rules and regulations are just the same as that of the first ever lockdown that we had last year, in fact far stricter with a few minor changes here and there.

Also read:  How the industry is adopting a people-first culture during tough pandemic times

It goes without saying that these curfews have disrupted businesses across sectors – be it retail, hotels & restaurants, entertainment, gyms & wellness, e-commerce, supply chain of goods, among others.

Dining out contributes 80% of restaurant revenues, with over 60% of the business happening on weekends. According to IBEF, Indian e-commerce will reach $99 billion by 2024, growing at a 27% CAGR over 2019-24, with grocery and fashion/ apparel likely to be the key drivers of incremental growth. COVID-19 has only aggregated this need further, making it play an ever-increasing role in the future.

Speaking about the impact of curfew and lockdown on the e-commerce sector, Amit Srivastava, CEO, Smollan India, said, “With the lines between channels blurring, customers are looking for an omni-channel experience to meet their varied shopping needs. For brands to remain relevant, there emerged a need to move from ‘us’ mentality – sales, growth, stores, traffic, and loyalty to a ‘them’ mentality – compassion, empathy, patience, understanding and authentic connection. Additionally, personalisation and D2C have also become key levers of growth around the globe to improve customer brand experience.”

When the lockdown started for the first time, several brands adopted a hybrid model for business. Speaking about Rapido’s business model, Amit Verma, Head of Marketing, Rapido, said, “Frugality is in our DNA, and from the very first day we have had an ROI-driven approach. We explore and move to Offline either for brand development or to get next level growth when we exhaust all the performance marketing and digital branding options. So, for the first few months, we relied on performance marketing heavily, then slowly moved on to influencers-based ROI-driven campaigns, and then started moving on Offline channels to move organic numbers. In this journey influencer-based performance campaigns were instrumental to drive growth. Recently, we launched our first brand campaign and spend significantly on Offline marketing to increase organic base and increase awareness. The 360-degree marketing campaign #GoOhhWithRapido, highlighted the benefits of using the Rapido service, especially for a peak hour traveller.”

As we have seen, digital has played a major role all this time, from brands moving their marketing budgets to the digital medium to production houses increasing their content volume for the OTT platforms, the shift is visible across sectors.

Speaking about how digital is impacting business, Rapido’s Verma added, “Our Digital to Offline marketing ratio was 60:40. However, post lockdown during the pandemic, it moved to 100% digital as it helped us to grow and recover business at a fast pace with better ROI and comparatively lesser investment.”

Even though digital came to the rescue for most businesses, many still had to hustle to create a digital presence and serve their clientele better. Palash Agrawal, Founder-Director, Vedas Exports, elaborated, “Like us, the consumers are also navigating through the pandemic and exploring new things. After the major lockdown that happened last year, we were looking forward to 2021, but this year, too, hasn’t been kind on us. Consumers are spending as and when required as they are spending more time at home and they feel the need to make the space they live in more interesting. Before lockdown, we used to organise exhibitions and events to display our products throughout the country. But the lockdown has caused us to rethink and we are now providing our products through our online website and various other e-commerce platforms.”

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