Time for brands to go back to fundamentals & reset priorities: Ajay Khanna

Shrugging off the disruptions of the year gone by, businesses and agencies are looking for a strong revival in 2021. Over the next few weeks, Adgully – as part of our annual TRENDING NOW endeavour – will be presenting the strategies and views of a cross-section of industry leaders as they go about reclaiming lost time and market opportunities and build for a stronger future, armed with the lessons of 2020. 

Ajay Khanna, CMO, Amway India, highlights the avenues that the pandemic era has opened up for marketers to try new strategies, think outside the box, and reinvent the way they connect with consumers. 

Outlook for 2021 

The ongoing situation has challenged the status quo globally and in India as well, and we are witnessing an unprecedented change in consumer consumption patterns. What we value, how we consume and where we spend will never be the same again. However, for marketers, it has opened avenues to try new strategies, think outside the box, and reinvent the way they connect with consumers. 

As we move forward in 2021, here are some trends that are expected to drive businesses: 

  • Sharper focus on holistic wellbeing: The concept of healthy living has gained significant momentum with a focus on nutrition and immunity, heightened interest in holistic wellness through balanced nutrition and going ‘back to local’ with demand for nutrition supplements made of traditional Indian herbs are few trends in the nutrition space that will continue to drive consumption. With greater acceptance for nutrition products, people are now moving to the next level seeking personalized nutritionsolutions as per the individual lifestyle, which is another emerging trend in the nutrition space. Aligning to these consumer trends, we, at Amway, are looking at a multiple-innovative solution such as strengthening the existing portfolio, developing new products in the traditional herbs category, looking at options in affordable supplementation space and new formats of products more engaging and appealing to youth. Beyond vitamin, minerals and dietary supplements, we will also explore adjacent and expanded spaces around the nutrition segment.
  • Emerging Social Communities: The growing adoption of digital and social platforms, as consumers continue to stay at home, has led to the emergence of online communities built around common passion such as health, beauty, fitness, cooking and more. As people look for personal recommendations online, many Amway direct retailers/ sellers have built vibrant social communities, delivering personalised product experiences by integrating their offline connection online. These online social communities are here to stay and flourish through 2021. Over a period, this trend will pave the way to the rise of the Passion Economy, a concept where individuals can monetize their passions. 
  • Traceability: In a safety and sustainability-conscious world, information on product origin and its journey has become more critical to consumers than ever before. This is especially relevant for nutrition and wellness brands. Digital platforms, especially social media, have become the most sought-after channels for brands to engage with their consumers. In a time of uncertainties or otherwise, consumers are now seeking out brands they can trust, making transparent communication an absolute imperative. At Amway, our brand communication for the nutrition category entails the seed to supplement journeythat brings together the best of nature and the best of science. We believe that such honest and consistent communication builds trust among consumers that needs to be reinforced by brands in the current times.
  • Augmented customer experience: Today’s virtually connected scenario has forced brandsto adopt new AR/VR/MR technologies, revolutionising how we consume and create content. Marketing has gone beyond just advertising on different platforms. It is where customer experience is strategized and implemented across different touchpoints. Aligned to this trend, Amway India is investing in innovative digital tools across categories to offer a whole new experience to its direct retailers/ sellers and consumers. 
    • Further, the advent of social commercehas led to interesting concepts such as virtual storefronts creating a personalised experience for customers.

The world is surely a different one now and I truly believe these trends are here to stay for the times to come. To my mind, they offer a huge opportunity for brands to go back to fundamentals, clean up efficiencies and reset priorities to thrive in the new environment.  

Great expectations 

Like other industries, the FMCG sector in India has undergone a massive shift in 2020, which has pushed brands to change the way they engage with consumers in line with evolving consumption pattern. At Amway, we have been constantly learning and innovating to deal with unprecedented changes in 2020. With the fast-tracked digital adoption and increased focus on nutrition-wellness portfolio, we are positive of this year. We look ahead to a great year for our partners and customers with the following expectation that will drive marketing goals. 

  • Selfcare with nutrition and immunity will continue to be the focus: As people continue to embrace a holistic approach to wellness, brands will continue to innovate and strengthen their offerings and drive conversations around nutrition and immunity. Keeping this in mind, Amway has a strong pipeline of new product launches and campaigns in the nutrition category.
  • Ayurveda/ Herbal Products to gain further momentum: There has been a growing preference for herbal products made from traditional Indian herbs, especially among the youth. We expect this inclination for herbal nutrition products to grow deeper in 2021, opening the market for affordable traditional herbs products. At Amway, we are in the process of strengthening our traditional herbs portfolio of products with a special focus on immunity.
  • Rise of Omni Channel retail: Customers expect businesses to improve the accessibility of their product and services, making omnichannel with an offline and online presence more relevant than ever. With digital on the rise, omnichannel retailing in 2021 will see brands capitalising on mobile, web and social to reach their customers. While Amway has both offline and online presence, we are focusing to strengthen our online footprint to cater to evolving consumers. 
  • Deeper Digital Adoption:The current era is more digital and virtual, which will further grow deeper across geographies and age-groups. To cater to digital consumers, brands will continue to adapt marketing strategies specific to the strengths of the digital ecosystem by driving conversations and promotions digitally, making products available online, strengthen digital capabilities and ensure seamless last-mile delivery of products. 
  • The growing participation of women and youth in the gig ecosystem: People with a business mindset have tried unleashing their potential by foraying into the entrepreneurial ecosystem. As guided entrepreneurship provides a flexible working option, allowing them to pursue their passion, along with the supplemental income, we have seen increased participation from women and the U35 segment. We firmly believe that the entrepreneurial spirit in people will further fuel the gig economy in 2021.

Key learnings from 2020

We firmly believe that every challenge is an opportunity. The year 2020 taught us to navigate uncertainties in business and has ultimately made us better prepared. For Amway, it has laid the foundation for the fundamental shift towards digital and social commerce. Though concepts such as nutrition, immunity, sustainability were not new, the global health situation brought them to the forefront. Of the many learnings, here are some that have prepared us to approach the year 2021 with gratitude, positivity, and strength:

  • Agile is the way to go: In 2020, most successful marketers responded to unexpected events by adapting quickly and decisively. Therefore, brands that are proactive in their approach and willing to pivot as needed are those who stayed ahead of their competition. For instance: Amway has always been promoting the need for self-care with adequate nutrition and its role in building the immune system. However, in 2020 we witnessed consumers proactively moving towards a holistic approach to wellness with a focus on immunity and nutrition. This trend helped us in our endeavor to drive meaningful conversations around the nutrition category through engaging campaigns with a focus on immunity supporting products. We initiated an open collaboration with other brands like ITC, with the aim to cater to the emerging immunity market. We also ramped up our supply chain to ensure meeting consumer demands, besides strengthening digital compatibilities to suit the need of the market-driven virtually. 
  • Adopt a people-first approach: People are the core of any business. Brands that lead with compassion, express solidarity and look for ways to help their employees and communities will make an impact in the industry. At Amway, we ‘lead with heart’ and live by ‘we before me’, which is one of the guiding principles of Amway Founder’s Growth Mindset and is an integral part of our value system. These values have helped us navigate through situations and establish a strong foundation for the future of the company. 
  • Lead with empathy: As digital convenience becomes a commodity; empathy is the differentiator for the customer experience. Brands that engage with their customers at an emotional level without hard-selling product or services will win customer loyalty.

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