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Revival & Survival: Stay agile & be more adaptive towards embracing the new norms

Prepared or not, India has now moved on to the ‘Unlock – 1’ phase as an exit strategy for the two-month long lockdown period. It is definitely a changed world that India is entering now, and we will have to learn to live with the Coronavirus in our midst.

A lot has been written, debated and discussed over how much the economy and business operations have been hit. We, at Adgully, aim to look at the revival story. What does it take to jumpstart an economy? That is the great narrative that we are following up as part of our ‘Revival and Survival’ series.

Zameer Kochar, VP – Marketing & Member Engagement, InterMiles, stresses on agility and being fluid towards adapting to diverse scenarios as they unfold, with uncertainty of the future looming large at present. 

What does the new normal look like? How much has the COVID-19 crisis disrupted business operations?

None of us could have predicted the impact that COVID-19 has had on the world at large. The nationwide lockdown has far-reaching implications on all – from government institutions to diverse industries, economies, and individuals. This disruption has changed everything, including our understanding of normalcy. Hence, understanding the transformed behavioral patterns of consumers, in the wake of this pandemic, is our priority. In the given situation, two key pre-requisites of customer loyalty, which is trust and their confidence to continuously engage with a brand, will undergo an ultimate test. We are likely to witness a new normal in consumer behaviour, characterised by caution while spending, need for comfort and re-assurance to drive positive distractions by leveraging technology and social media platforms.

Having stated the above, brands need to reinvent and rethink their consumer approach to stay relevant. Keeping up with the times, we at InterMiles are furthering our commitment towards our consumers by undertaking initiatives that ensure we stay relevant, protect member interest, and create value. We are constantly identifying innovative partnerships and associations to offer our members unique ways to engage with us. Our member engagements during COVID-19 continue to empower them and enable us to deepen our connection with them.

What should be the blueprint for a post-COVID-19 economy?

There is no defined playbook or blueprint as to what are the best practices to deal with the current situation. Every organisation will need to clearly define their way forward roadmap as there is no one size that fits all. However, the fundamentals at a larger level would remain the same. As organisations, our topmost priority should be to safeguard the interest of all our stakeholders, be it our consumers, partners and employees. What we also need to understand is that consumer needs may continue to be the same, but the way they go about consuming that need might change, for example, consumers yet have the need for entertainment, but their consumption patterns have now moved to OTT platforms. With the continuously evolving times, one needs to be extremely flexible in their thinking and look out for futuristic opportunities that are sustainable over a period to build brand saliency and engagement. Organisations will need to create multiple business continuity scenarios with optimum operational efficiency as well as put a strong lens around what kind of impact that they are able to create with their brand ideas and at what cost, and whether the engagement idea is strong enough to drive positive consumer behaviour change towards their brand.

What are the five key measures needed to ensure a speedy business revival of your industry?

Invest time in understanding the evolving consumer behaviour

Right from the way consumers are spending to the kind of content they consume and on what platforms, everything is undergoing a change. Categorised by emotions like being overwhelmed on account of staying at home or facing financial insecurity or having more time at one’s disposal, diverse consumers are reacting in diverse ways to the lockdown. As we transcend to the other side of the COVID-era, it becomes necessary that brands invest time to observe and understand the evolved needs of the consumer to stay relevant.

Re-align your business goals

Once you are gaining a deeper understanding of the market you are addressing, it becomes easier to re-define your key strategic goals as to what you now wish to attain in the evolved market. There is a high possibility that your earlier defined goals may not be completely relevant or match the need-of-the-hour in the present scenario. Hence, as business professionals, we need to relook at all that we set out to achieve and align them to the world of today. It’s imperative for organisations to re-prioritiae their business goals keeping in mind the continuously evolving environment, resource allocation, capability requirements and budgeting activities.

Maintain transparency with all partners involved 

Trust is undisputable in every relationship, business being no exception. It is principle to keep all your stakeholders, be it consumers, partners, employees informed about all developments – good or bad. 

Keep multiple contingency plans for diverse case scenarios 

Having a contingency plan is of utmost significance to ensure that the organisation’s personnel and assets are protected and can function promptly even in the event of a crisis. Organisations that are willing to refine their growth strategies and approach every six months will do themselves a lot of good in these dynamic and volatile times. We at InterMiles continually invest time, effort, and resources towards incorporating feedback and enhancing our overall product and customer experience. This approach has enabled us to fine-tune our capability matrix and business model for having a steady Business Continuity Plan in place whenever required.

Embrace the culture of adapting to change

Buddha said, the more you try to control something, the more it controls you. The “new normal”, as we call it, is nothing close to what anyone could have anticipated. In the given scenario, towards ensuring that your business is thriving rather than surviving in the new environment, it is important to stay agile and encourage your teams to be more adaptive towards embracing the new norms. As leaders and role models, we must be the first to acknowledge the situation, and adjust our brand speak in a way that captures its core essence keeping in mind the new landscape we are living in.

How are you strategising for the remaining quarters of this Financial Year 2021?

At InterMiles, we believe that every journey deserves to be rewarding – whether it is the purpose it fulfills, the experiences it brings, or the memories it leaves you with. With InterMiles, you will never need another rewards programme. It gives you access to the widest network of travel and lifestyle partners. This means that you will earn InterMiles across everything, from everyday daily services to bill payments to online shopping, fuel, dining, and more. Our communication and business strategy will continue to amplify all our initiatives that will be created keeping a strong lens on the customer mindset and categories they find relevant and highly engaging in the current situation as well going forward. 

All our initiatives, whether in the pipeline or already gone live, have been designed keeping in mind the customer mindset, how best we can engage our member community with initiatives having a strong lens around relevancy in the current situation. We have created a robust ecosystem through which we can reward our members regularly. We have strengthened our partnerships in categories like e-learning, online subscriptions, healthcare, fitness, and knowledge series led webinars to name a few. Our constant endeavour has been to create engagement opportunities for our members at all times and bucket them as initiatives under central themes, which are sustainable from a short to medium to a long-term perspective. Our ‘Stay Home, Get Rewarded’ series is one such thematic series, and going forward, looking at the evolving situation, we will continue creating multiple engaging communication themes that will reward our members on an on-going basis.

How do you visualise the economy and your sector a year later? How much would it have recovered by then?

With uncertainty of the future looming large currently, it can be challenging to fully grasp how our lives will change due to COVID-19. Although the lockdown is slowly beginning to ease out in phases to restart the economy, results will be long-drawn. While change is inevitable, no one can predict the exact manner and pace at which things will transform. As organisations, we need to be agile and fluid towards adapting to diverse scenarios as they unfold.

Marketing
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