Turning adversity into a marketing advantage – experts show how

“Tough people do not last long, but tough people generally last long” – the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about very difficult times for all, but this has also been a time of exploring new opportunities, ideas and energies; innovating; and even starting over. This pandemic has also seen the great migration to digital, with every aspect of life – be it work, meetings, shopping, entertainment, socialising – being conducted online. Experts are calling this the new normal – and some even terming it ‘never normal’.

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A special webinar, spearheaded by some of the country’s top ranked women leaders and presented by COLLECTCENT and powered by Adgully was held yesterday (September 3, 2020) to understand about how this new normal will actually look like and how we can face the challenges bravely and plan ahead. 

The first panel, titled – ‘Adversity as an Opportunity’ – was moderated by Neel Pandya, Head of Media, L’Oreal, and included Anita Nayyar, Head of Customer Strategy & Relationships, ZEE5 India; Anushree Ghosh, Lead Digital Strategy and Media, ITC Limited; Sonia Singh, Co-Founder & Director – Growth and Strategy, CollectCent Digital Media, as the speakers.

On being asked what steps ITC has taken to ensure that the business continues as usual, Anushree Ghosh responded by saying, “As the topic suggests, it is about seeking opportunity in adversity; and there were such pieces which were picked up that were turned into opportunities. Right in the beginning when the sudden lockdown happened, it not just abruptly halted the lives of consumers but also did the same for business owners. Suddenly E-commerce was shut, traditional trade was shut which is huge for us, every possible channel of availability of our products or touch points were actually shut. One of the things we realised was that consumers were actually seeking out our products. One of our largest products is in the essential category, which is Atta, a staple of all Indian families. It almost felt like a duty for all of us at ITC to figure out means to reach out to the consumer and make the product available to them.”

Ghosh went on to elaborate on how ITC started focusing on making the essentials easily available to begin with as people were resorting to panic buying. She said, “ITC was one of the first companies that launched the ‘ITC store on wheels’ initiative, we also have direct to consumer destinations. It was quite difficult in terms of getting permission for our store on wheels, but since it was an essential commodity, we managed to get the requisite permission by speaking to some of the authorities and regulatory bodies. Being proximal to the consumers was one of the key initiatives that we did, it was almost like coming together to work for a cause and helped us to get closer to our customers.”

Pandya next asked Anita Nayyar about the growth on OTT viewership during the pandemic and lockdown and wanted to know whether this growth was temporary or for the long run.

Anita Nayyar noted, “With everybody locked inside their homes and working from home for the first two months, people didn’t know what to do. Nobody is used to such a situation. It took a toll on everybody.”

She added that while companies undertook various initiatives to take the essential commodities to the people, when it came to the “essentials for the mind” that was where the OTT platforms came in.

“In general, everybody wanted entertainment – first they did their kind of binging on television and then started moving out of television when there was no new content available and the broadcast media had kind of exhausted all its content. News was something that possibly got those eyeballs, but it was largely from an information perspective. In that situation, OTT platforms were the next best as there was a lot of new content coming in,” she added.

Talking specifically about ZEE5, Nayyar said, “We have been one of the platforms that have been blessed with a lot of new content. It’s been general forward planning, a proactive planning from the content team to keep the consumers engaged, which I think worked as a huge advantage for ZEE5. With the changing times, brands try to change consumers’ habits; in these times, the environment has helped in changing the consumer habit for us. We moved from television to OTT platforms. Another thing that has interestingly emerged is the connected TV space; a lot of viewers are coming in from the connected TV space. We have taken the pains to go back to the older model and get our app integrated in that.”

Pandya next wanted to find out from Sonia Singh that being a part of a leading ad tech platform whether she really had started customising her solutions to the advertisers and what were those solutions.

Sonia Singh replied, “Bringing in the advertising business to the perspective, this business particularly is not like any other commerce sort of revenue, because we don’t have an idea of what it is going to look like in a situation like this. If the economy has taken a hit, the advertising industry has definitely taken a hit and I would be particularly talking about the mobile app acquisition business. The demand is becoming more and more performance centric, not just on the branding side, but in many sectors like E-commerce, travel, food delivery promotions. These are the advertisers who have actually seen a downturn, but at the end of the day we saw new partners and advertisers like OTT, gaming, entertainment and fitness and utility who actually stood to the benefit from this differential consumer mindset. Owing to this situation at an organisation level, we leaned back on making a lot of changes.”

Watch the complete discussion here:


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