We expect an uptake in demand for value-based appliances: Shirish Agarwal
The great Indian Festive season has started amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We all know what kind of a washout the first half of 2020 has been when it comes to businesses and even personal lives being completely disrupted. Given the strict Government directives on maintaining social distancing, the huge crowds of shoppers that usually throng the markets during this time might be a lot less this year.
In normal circumstances, brands look at the festive season as an opportunity to gain maximum ROI, leveraging the consumer sentiments during this time. However, the unprecedented conditions have dampened the economy so far. While some are sceptical about businesses picking up during the rest of the year, we are also seeing a general mood of optimism.
Amid such a scenario, Adgully has reached out to marketers and publishers across India to gauge the sentiments during the festive season this year as part of our special series on ‘Festive Mood’. Over the next few weeks, we will be bringing the views and insights from various markets on how marketers and publishers are endeavouring to trigger a revival and give a boost to festive sentiments.
Continuing with the series, in conversation with Adgully, Shirish Agarwal, Head-Brand and Marketing Communication, Panasonic India, gives us the Panasonic perspective and the activities carried out by the company during the pandemic and also planned for the festive period ahead.
How do you see the consumer sentiments across the nation this year? Which markets are seen as leading the rebound and how? What factors will drive growth this festive season? How much do you see festive sales getting impacted due to COVID-19 this year?
Confined within their homes, with limited or no domestic help, people have developed greater regard for appliances that help them multi-task and are opting for appliances that offer a better value proposition in the long-run. For example, individuals prefer large screen TVs over smartphones to watch content thus, propelling a demand for the same. Similarly, we have witnessed a 4-5X growth for our grooming range (especially trimmers) as consumers continue to avoid visiting salons.
People are emerging from a challenging phase and are bringing amends to their lifestyle, which is reflecting in their product choices. They are investing in technology and at the same time cautiously spending. Therefore, while consumers want their products to multi-task, they have also started to be more aware of the concept of Total Cost of Ownership, which essentially means the initial buying cost and the cost of operation throughout the lifecycle of a product when the consumer owns it. And this festive season, we expect an uptake in demand for value-based appliances such as 55 inches and above television models, 550-litre refrigerator, fully-automatic washing machine and grooming products, leading to a steady growth in sales. And we are hopeful that the festive season will help recover the deficit incurred in the last few months due to the pandemic.
What kind of integrated marketing activities are you planning for the festive season? On which platforms will you be investing your ad spends more and Why? What kind of digital push are you looking at?
At Panasonic, we have opted for an intelligent marketing mix for Ad expenditure with digital playing a crucial role – as it aids in performance marketing. Digital has always been our mainstay for communication with our consumers, followed by Television, which enables us to extend our reach and aids in brand building at the evoked stage of consumer purchase cycle. Our festive season is supported well by both ATL and BTL spends. We recently launched two digital campaigns – #KapdoKiImmunity for our washing machine range and #IntelligentHAI for our AI enabled refrigerator range, capturing the evolved consumer preferences and the growing need for smarter appliances.
For our rural consumers, we have introduced various localised, vernacular initiatives for a better brand connect. For instance – Panasonic demo vans comprising of our products provide a hands-on, personalised experience. For the customers who are using feature phones in rural markets, we have made our SMS and IVR services available to serve them better. We further plan to do hyper local/geo targeting digital campaigns through these localised content for them to have a seamless experience.
In addition, we have announced some offers through our new Onam campaign ‘New Dreams. New Celebrations’, like – 50 per cent discount on inverter AC installation, unmatched warranty benefits up to Rs 20,000 (on select models), up to 10 per cent cashback along with financial benefits such as zero down payment, long tenure EMI schemes and up to 12 months of no-cost EMI on purchase of a wide selection of select Panasonic appliances, are available for consumers.
Do you see retail footfalls increasing during the festive season, given that people are still not venturing out for shopping in a big way? What alternate routes are you looking at to shore up sales – such as e-commerce, online purchases, D2C initiatives?
The prolonged lockdown phase has affected consumer behaviour and has altered their consumption pattern. Prioritising safety and convenience, people have embraced e-commerce to shop for all items from the comforts of their homes. However, since the time retail has opened up, with appropriate social distancing and hygiene norms within the shops, consumers are utilising both the channels as per their convenience. Our products are available across offline and online platforms. In fact, recently we introduced digital payment platform, Benow, to help our offline retail partners digitise their selling process. Our efforts are focused on consistently upgrading our touch points; both online and offline, to provide seamless purchase experience across channels to our consumers.