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Product to Brand in Times of COVID-19

Authored by Ishita Sudha Yashvi, Co-Founder, Cross Border Kitchens.

If you think your product and brand are one and the same thing – you are wrong.  The logic behind product to brand rests on the remarkably simple human need to connect. Let me explain. Why do we choose to visit a salon / fruit vendor / tailor that’s nowhere close to our home? Often, it is not because nobody else is able to offer a better or at par product or service at a shorter distance. We choose to travel farther and inconvenience ourselves for the simple reason that we have built a ‘relationship’ with that person / vendor over time. We may like their value system or their customer dealing but the bottom line is – we trust them, and we like them.

Let’s talk about trust a little and the meaning it has attained in the face of COVID-19. No matter the industry, F&B or otherwise, consumer preference is all about choosing products from ‘Brands’ they trust - whose value systems they believe in. Now more than ever, consumers are choosing brands whose messaging and promise goes beyond the product and speaks about its core values. Research shows that 71% of consumers consider brand trustworthiness as the major reason that influences their purchase. And this right here is exactly the reason why ‘People Become Brands’. Think J.K Rowling – a large part of the Harry Potter marketing narrative was the struggles that Rowling went through and her life story. Readers not only fell in love with the timid weakling who overthrew he who must not be named but also with Rowling. Ever wondered why? It is because everyone started relating & appreciating Rowling’s life journey, what she did, how she overcame her struggles, how she turned her life around – she became the Brand.

So how does one do it?

Spark Connections

A quality product and competitive pricing is no longer enough. Consumers want to feel a connection. Businesses that choose to focus on brand individuality and values as opposed to mere ‘product promise’ are able to connect with the consumer on an emotional level. Once you are able to achieve that over time – you have a loyal customer at hand. Given the complexity of omni-channel retail, a sentimental brand association can make all the difference and can help your consumer remain engaged throughout the buying cycle.

Get your Messaging Right

The power of sensible and intelligent messaging that plays on real emotions sans gimmickry is immense. How many of you remember the iconic advertising campaign by Surf Excel?  ‘Daag Acche Hain’ - a campaign that changed the face of Surf Excel’s brand identity. Over the years Surf Excel has managed to synonymize themselves with Daag Acche Hai – a campaign that has managed to engrave itself in consumers’ hearts and minds with perceptive storytelling imbibed with subtle branding.

Identify Brand Friends

Apart from everything that you will execute as a marketing professional, rely on people-based marketing to establish communication. And this doesn’t necessarily mean signing a celebrity-endorsement deal. Look at your product journey – identify people who are your true brand friends and have the genuine power to influence your customers. Work with them for real-to-life storytelling to imbibe trust – the power of this humanized re-telling is immense.

Be Consistent

Product to brand is a journey that can’t be made like a packet of Ramen. This one needs to be fermented over time to get the perfect flavor. The key is to be consistent and prepare your communication strategy for it. Identify the USP’’s that will help consumers connect with you – make sure it’s not price proposition. Give people a ‘reason to believe’ and over time you will see the shift happen.

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