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“In these times, brands need to address customer needs by showing honesty & concern”

Even before COVID-19 struck the world, there has been a conscious move towards following a healthy lifestyle, which saw people gradually shifting towards health & wellness products. The global pandemic has accelerated this move towards immunity-boosting food and demand for health & wellness products. Manufacturers are reformulating products related to health & wellness in order to reduce the cholesterol, sugar, sodium and saturated fat content of their food products due to which they are shifting to organic ingredients.

As per The Deloitte Global and Wellness report 2018, a record number of two million employees engaged in health and wellness initiatives. Companies are responding to increasing consumer demand for consistent product labelling and 98% of the survey respondents had reformulated at least some part of their product portfolio.

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 The Euromonitor International report related to COVID-19 impact on health and wellness, states that “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on retail sales of health and wellness in India was generally positive during 2020 as the shift towards at-home consumption and the increasing interest in products that are perceived as healthy boosted demand.”

Established in 1924 with an aim to make pure and natural products a part of consumers’ everyday life, APIS is one of the growing FMCG companies in India and a leading manufacturer of natural honey, dates, jams, pickles, green tea and preserves. It also produces one of the best quality honeys in India – Apis Honey. The company launched its #SehatKaSaath campaign during Ramadan this year, which was related to empathy and consumers’ health and wellness, instead of just promoting their product.

In conversation with Adgully as part of our new column – MARKETING MINDS – Pankaj Mishra, CEO, Apis India, narrates the growth story of Apis India, how the company has managed the dramatic digital shift during the pandemic, recalibrating their marketing strategies to embrace empathy and a more customer-centric focus, as well as meeting the emerging needs of the consumers in a more proactive way.

What is the marketing strategy adopted by Apis India and how did you recalibrate your strategy for the lockdown?

APIS has always built its brand value by being a customer-centric company. The pandemic necessitated a dramatic digital shift in our marketing strategies. In terms of brand reach with conventional reach becoming limited, the company’s primary focus was to shift towards digital.


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The company has always believed in the power of digital and has been investing aggressively to strengthen distribution reach by being present on the e-commerce platforms, and executing digital influencer marketing campaigns for brand image upliftment and creating a niche for itself. We have been using influencers, brand ads, social media promotions, and TVC as a marketing mix. For instance, APIS Honey TVC communicates the purity of the company’s flagship brand – Apis Himalaya Honey – through a subtle conversation between the mother and the child. Recently, it launched digital ad campaign #SehatKaSaath during Ramadan.

As with every company, APIS India also had to adapt to a new world order with digital workplaces, innovating new products focusing on the preference of the customers, and normalising the disruption to reach the market.

Has the lockdown given you an opportunity to grow your portfolio of products and cater to new segments?

We all are taking necessary steps, be it buying products or adopting a healthy lifestyle to increase our immunity. Keeping this shift towards healthy choices in mind, we added immunity and health products in our portfolio.

How is the role of the CMO undergoing a major transformation amid the pandemic and an increasingly digital-first focus?

The pandemic has necessitated the importance of customer-focus strategy and CMO is the best fit who understands the market pulse. 

In this volatile market, CMOs have come to play a major role in business growth. They are also seeing a sea change in the consumer choices, introducing products as per the customer needs and most importantly, providing an experience to have a long lasting relationship with their customers. Today, finding the right set of a marketing mix that clicks well in uncertain times is a tough task. This has undergone deep-rooted change over industry-agility and has been the key value that one must reflect in action.

In an omnichannel world, how has the content role of CMOs been intensified?

Communication reinforces the solidarity with the fight against the common enemy. During this pandemic, the empathy towards the hardships of the new normal has been impactful. It is also important to communicate what the brand is offering as a solution to one or the plethora of problems everyone is going through. Communication has strengthened the importance of staying healthy, hygienic and the importance of showing compassion has taken a leap.

APIS in its own way has brought thoughtful messages in their communication tools, be it Instagram, YouTube or others. Recently, it launched a thoughtful Ramadan campaign bringing out the message on sharing and bonding with family members.

What are the new rules for creating effective branding in a volatile world?

In the present new world order, branding has seen some changes. There is an urgent need to reinvent, staying true to their intention, provide meaning to consumers, and meet some of the emerging needs of the consumers.

Brands need to face the reality of the situation and address customer needs by showing a sense of honesty and concern. Brands that take meaningful actions to help their customers through difficult times will be rewarded in the long run. Most importantly, brands should continue to communicate in meaningful ways which would connect with the customers. 

Given the constant flux in consumer behaviour, especially in pandemic times, what is your go-to strategy to understand your customers’ unique wants and needs?

Our strategy has been to communicate, talk and listen to our customers. One needs to understand and acknowledge any change in consumer behaviour and patterns. As per this change, we have shifted our entire strategy.

Our focus was not only to reach out to e-commerce platforms, but mom & pop stores as well, which was in their vicinity. With the customer-centric focus, we have been able to smoothen the disruptions and bring in new products which were the need. Thus, during the pandemic, we introduced new products like Soya Nuggets, Apple Cider Vinegar, Green Tea, Cornflakes, etc. 

(Edited by Shanta Saikia)


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