The world is trying its level best to battle the coronavirus pandemic. There are too many uncertainties as to when the economy will be back to normal. It is posing a challenge to marketers on how to conduct their businesses in these fast-changing surroundings. New trends are coming up and quite a few players are changing their marketing strategies to blend in and retain their customers. Most people think about offline companies. But no! Even internet based companies like Netflix and YouTube have had to adapt to the changing environment.
In March, Netflix had to reduce the video quality of its content to reduce load of the traffic on the video streaming platform. Earlier, users could opt for either the standard video quality or the high definition video quality. (Source: Economic Times) YouTube also followed in its footsteps by reducing its quality. Uninterrupted access to a video streaming platform builds the reputation of a brand providing these services. So, if your videos seemed to be of somewhat lower quality of late, now you know why.
It is expected that an easing of the lockdown restrictions all around the globe would reduce the burden that video streaming platforms are currently facing. But until then, they must adapt to survive.
Lets look at a few other trends that have been exemplified by brands through their actions.
1. Offline is going Online
The entertainment industry is going through major changes. Crowds are no longer gathering in concerts, festivals, national and international conferences, and socializing at events seems to have become a distant dream. The entertainment industry looks at a grim future ahead of it. The novel coronavirus has impacted 60 million livelihoods out of which 10 million people employed in the entertainment industry have been impacted directly and 50 million people have been impacted indirectly, like food vendors. (Source: The Economic Times) However, some innovative strategies rolled out by major players in the entertainment industry ensured that coronavirus does not equate a full stop.
Companies that were completely dependent on offline events like movies, concerts, and plays to generate revenue are now left with little choice left apart from changing their focus from offline events to online events. With the cinema halls being shut down and world tours being cancelled, people expected that the entertainment industry would take a long time to start running once again. However, a successful brand can adapt itself to the environment, and this has been done by Book My Show through promoting its live comedy events and giving suggestions to people on how they can get into the “party mode” while staying at home on its Instagram page.
Paytm Insider is adopting a similar approach to Book My Show. Free or paid events and workshops are being attended by people from the comfort of their homes. The entertainment industry is following the principle of making the best use of the limited resources it has, and it’s working.
2. Brands need to work harder to express quality assurance
Hygiene is on the top of the mind of every consumer who is aware of the corona virus. Therefore, many companies, especially those that are associated with the ready-to-eat nature of foods, are going to have a tough time convincing consumers with their quality assurance.
Just a couple of months ago, with food delivery companies Zomato and Swiggy, terms like contact-less delivery and sanitization were not common. As of today, companies are giving real-time updates on when a delivery partner sanitizes his hands. Customers are encouraged to opt for contact-less delivery, where the delivery agent puts the food package outside the doorstep of the customers’ homes instead of handing it directly to them to reduce any possibilities of human to human transmission of the virus.
All food delivery agents are required to wear masks while they are delivering the food items to the customers. The advisory that Zomato gave out to its customers ensures that brand trust is maintained during a time when people are skeptical about whether or not food delivery is a safe choice to consider while the number of cases of the novel coronavirus cases increases.
Food deliveries in India have dropped by nearly 60% due to the fear of being infected with the virus.(Source: Business Today) The drop has made food delivery companies more careful with how food is packaged and they are checking the temperature of their food delivery agents regularly. Basic measures, but these are times when food companies will have to go the extra mile to win the trust of their customers.
Its not only food companies, but also other delivery companies like Amazon who have had to take measures for its employees’ safety and for its customers too.
3. Cash could phase out among certain socio economic segments
This is going to be one of the most far reaching and heavy impacting changes: reduction in usage of cash for daily transactions.
Consider the number of times the cash would have exchanged hands within the day and if by any chance it was in contact with a covid positive environment, it could just lead to more spread. Hence, cash is being avoided in most circumstances.
For instance, e-commerce giant Amazon has stopped accepting cash for payments due to fears of the virus being transmitted through currency notes. The Confederation Of All India Traders has already demanded an investigation to determine whether currency notes can spread the coronavirus if people are in close contact with each other, according to an article by the Economic Times. The real question for India would be: Can digital payments completely replace cash payments in India, where more people prefer cash transactions in comparison to digital payments due to a lack of trust in digital payments and a lack of awareness of how the banking system operates?
Although they mention that Payment on Delivery has been temporarily discontinued, this could very well be permanently done away with as more people get used to doing online payments.
4. Food brands need to go healthier
Immunity seems to be our only reliable and the strongest barrier of defense against viral attacks. Therefore, food and beverage brands would do well to start adopting healthier options that add value to the body in ways more than nutrition. Immunity could become a strong offering for some of the health oriented brands. In fact, most brands would be better off with this offering in their kitty.
For example, Chaayos, has launched immunity-boosting beverages during the pandemic. Boosting one’s immunity is known to prevent infectious diseases, although it is not a cure for the novel coronavirus. The Golden Milk, Kashmiri Kahwa, and The Herbal Green Tea are new additions to Chaayos’s menu which were launched keeping in mind the current situation in the country, which is a clever away through which it has differentiated itself from the rivals in the market.
Chaayos seems to be motivating its customers with the message “Good alone Triumphs over the Evil”. All of the healthy add-ons which one can add to tea have been mentioned in the picture: elaichi (cardamom), cinnamon, sauf (fennel seeds), adrak (ginger), lemon, kali mirch (black pepper), haldi (turmeric), tulsi(basil) and laung. (cloves) These add-ons have been represented as the “good”, whereas the coronavirus has been represented as “the evil.”
Being healthier was already on the cards for most brands. But COVID19 has added the additional feature of immunity. Such repositioning could become a necessity for many food players in the market, or else they could see new entrants into the market that threaten their existence with these offerings.
5. Brands need to show that they genuinely care
There has been an article already on why brands need to genuinely care about consumers on this website. Read it here in case you haven’t done so already.
The crux here is that brands carry the responsibility to be of benefit to their customers when they need them the most. All major brands are doing their part to give back to the consumers. Every little bit counts and people need that reassurance from brands that they care. If you, as a well known brand, miss this bus, then it will be extremely tough for your customers to care for you later.
Mukesh Ambani’s Jio has offered its customers 100 minutes of free talk time and 100 free SMS messages. (Source: Deccan Herald). Under normal circumstances, this might seem like a petty promotion, but during these times, its a precious gift. Uncertainties of income during the time of the pandemic have adversely impacted the poor, migrant workers, and the people who belong to professions like construction and driving who have no other income. Jio sets itself apart from its competitors in the market who are still charging their customers as usual.
Jio has also launched a tool for MyJio users, Coronavirus-info and tools, to check whether or not a person should get a health check-up done based on the symptoms which they are experiencing. (Source: India Today) The tool also gives crucial information to the users like the number of confirmed cases that have been reported of the novel coronavirus, the test centers which a person can visit to be tested for the virus, and the number of patients who have recovered from the disease. Guidelines on how one can protect himself/herself from the virus have also been provided.
As long as the pandemic lasts, brands will have to adapt themselves to what their customers want and expect out of them. If they fail to keep with the requirements of their customers and do not show the empathy and the maturity that is expected of them, people would not take long to find substitutes in a world where competitors are always ready to take a brand’s place. Just like a person, a brand’s real identity comes into light during a difficult time.
These are the 5 industry trends that have shown up in the last couple of months. Brands would be better off tuning in to these and working towards redesigning themselves to survive through this chaos and thrive when the times get better.