Consumers are looking for causes to align than buying into products: Laeeq Ali

We are witnessing the great Indian Festive season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We all know what kind of a washout the first half of 2020 ha been when it comes to businesses and even personal lives being completely disrupted.

In normal circumstances, brands look at the festive season as an opportunity to gain maximum ROI, leveraging the consumer sentiments during this time. However, the unprecedented conditions have dampened the economy so far. While some are sceptical about businesses picking up during the rest of the year, we are seeing a general mood of optimism.

The festivals of Onam and Ganesh Mahotsav commence from Saturday, August 22, 2020. Given the strict Government directives on maintaining social distancing, the huge crowds of shoppers that usually throng the markets during this time might be a lot less this year. Already, the Maharashtra Government has placed restrictions on Ganesh puja pandals.

Amid such a scenario, Adgully has reached out to marketers and publishers across India to gauge the sentiments during the festive season this year as part of our special series on ‘Festive Mood’. Over the next few weeks, we will be bringing the views and insights from various markets on how marketers and publishers are endeavouring to trigger a revival and give a boost to festive sentiments.

Continuing with the series, Laeeq Ali, Co-founder, Bloombox Brand Engineers & Origami Creative and President, The Advertising Club Bangalore, breaks down the consumer sentiments this year. While Ali sees challenge for festive sales, he also stresses on Relevance and Purpose as key brand strategies during these circumstances.

How do you see the consumer sentiments in the South markets this year? What kind of rebound do you see in these markets during the festive season? What factors will drive this growth? How much do you see festive sales getting impacted due to COVID-19 this year?

While I am really hoping for the best, right now it seems gloomy. With the COVID-19 positive numbers still going up and people losing their jobs, the middle class are largely trading down on their discretionary spends. People are more concerned about their safety, hygiene and wellness than anything else. So, I am seeing a challenge for festive sales.

But having said that, consumers are becoming more loyal to brands and trust has become a big aspect. In all this gloom, they also want some cheer and celebration in their lives. The SEC A consumers are looking to trade up and are figuring out new ways to discover new brands too. This means that it is even more important for businesses to define their brand more relevantly than ever and be purpose centric. Relevance and Purpose being the key words. With a big jump in screen time, especially social media, brands need to figure how they can pivot smartly to the digital world and be discovered by consumers. If you are a premium brand, you need to give consumers enough reasons beyond the table-stakes of just quality, price and availability. This is the time to win trust. Remember that in every adversity, there is an opportunity and companies need to look around everything closely and tailor-make their strategies in today’s context.

What kind of integrated marketing activities are you planning for the festive season? On which platforms will you be investing your ad spends more and Why? What kind of digital push are you looking at?

There has surely been a change in media consumption – social media and OTT have seen a spike. Brands need to align to the new media mix landscape. We plan to focus on digital mediums with more interactive and engaging story-telling, especially addressing their current concerns. Social media can be leveraged for cause marketing to improve brand relevance. I have also seen an increasing need to go vernacular as well as hyperlocal and be present where the consumer is. Digital discovery through virtual product launches and virtual roadshows is also not just a choice any more.

Do you see retail footfalls increasing during the festive season, given that people are still not venturing out for shopping in a big way? What alternate routes are you looking at to shore up sales – such as e-commerce, online purchases, D2C initiatives?

People are not coming out of their homes. Period. But that said, they do aspire for some cheer and celebrations too. How long can you keep the social animal caged? So, even if they don’t come out, you as a brand, need to go to their homes. You need to be discovered. What would you do? The only answer is Digital. So, the key aspects would be – Do a quick audit to check on the relevance of your brand in this new world order, redefine your brand if needed, be present on online platforms, tell interesting and engaging stories, do interactive and virtual product launches, go beyond the product and align your brand to a cause. It is the age of cause marketing. Consumers are looking for causes to align than buying into products.


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