As businesses tighten their purse strings in the face of a post-Covid economic downturn, marketing budgets are likely to be under intense scrutiny.
But when the markets open up, will brands continue to focus on fundamentals such as brand building? Or will they manage marketing spend with a targeted value payback for customer segments while saving monies?
BestMediaInfo.com finds out how cautious brands will be in their marketing spends after the Covid-19 crisis.
Brands will need to use their budget wisely, tailoring their content appropriately to the consumer experience and measuring each step of their campaigns to ensure that valuable and engaging content is targeted at the right consumers on the right platform.Â
Prashant Sinha, COO and Co-Founder, Momspresso, said it is all the more important for brands to optimise their marketing budgets by allocating spends to effective advertising channels, and focus their current efforts on ROI across the marketing funnel from awareness to consideration and finally purchase.Â
Sinha advised brands to concentrate on performance-based marketing rather than long-term brand awareness objectives.
Gurpreet Singh,Â Head of Marketing, United Breweries, recommended brands to closely gauge consumer behaviour.
âBrands that are nimble to crack this and adapt businesses and communication will win. Spends are only a function of catalysing the process of awareness and acquisition,â he added.
Brands feel that markets opening up is one thing but human life on this planet will be changed for the better.Â
Emphasising on consumer behaviour, Nishit Nanda, Executive Director, Khimji Jewels, said consumers will no longer be the same again. âPeople will smell lack of authenticity faster. And they will be less tolerant towards shadow marketing. Brands would be better off investing in authenticity instead of elaborate machinery to obfuscate it,â he added.
The industry is likely to see a change in various business as well as consumer aspects, including policy, regulations, consumer behaviour and consumption patterns, which will all be important to evaluate media spends.
âI am cautiously optimistic that dormant demand will spike consumer purchase as the markets open up, specifically for consumer goods, electronics and durables. However, it is impossible to comment on the consumption pattern across categories. Hence, I recommend the brands to be watchful and cautious yet agile and responsive to the changing consumer and business dynamics,â said Shivam Ranjan, Head of Marketing at Motorola.
Everything in relation to marketing spends will be reviewed based on past data and then further metrics as to how and how much could be set cautiously, said Ashish Thakur, Business Head, Birla Ayurveda.
âFor now, we are still uncertain about the risk factors that may come forth in the near future. My take on this is that we will have to re-focus on the core brand message of payment security to help theÂ consumer feel confident about essential purchases. Optimistically, moving forward with dedication towards problem-solving and surviving come what may, we will all have to learn together with both confidence and humility,â he added.
Eventually, all brands will bounce back, and will be accustomed to think, operate, and lead in new ways after the pandemic.
Once the markets re-open depending on the situation, strategies will be made and action will be taken.
However, given that there has been an evident transformation in both marketing trends and spends, Shekhar Agarwal, Head of Marketing, Havmor Ice-creams, feels that the brands would act more smartly and efficiently in reaching out to their target consumers.
For brands, this is a crucial time to sustain brand awareness and an interesting time for media innovation by challenging the existing pattern.
Nitin Chopra, Industry Head, E-commerce and Retail, Facebook India, advised brands and marketers to act with heightened consumer empathy.
But having said that, the most loved and trusted brands always focus on defining the role they play in the consumers lives, even today.
âWe believe that brands can step up and bring meaningful experiences to people in multiple ways. And of course, the urgency of addressing immediate needs of consumers with limitations on traditional storytelling creates fresh possibilities. Branded content is another wayÂ for brands to showcase their value in a personal way and many brands are already engaging with influencers on Instagram. It especially becomes relevant because of the constraints of physical, in-person, content creation. But it needs to be done in a way that it delivers real value and is done responsibly,â he added.
As physical distancing becomes a reality for people and communities around the world now, businesses are communicating with customers in creative ways, using digital platforms while driving efficiency with every dollar.
Smita Murarka, Vice-President, Marketing, DuroflexÂ Mattresses, said digital will rise up even more after the pandemic.
âA lot of brands have hopes in the festive season because unlike other global markets, India is a highly domestic consumption-driven market, driven by a lot of young people. Also, communication and the mediums will change drastically. Digital will rise up even more. Being a diverse kind of the market, we have growing brands, well-established brands and small brands as well. So, the pockets vary in India and are not consolidated. For smaller brands, cash flow plays a very important role. However, even in the absence of commercial gains, it is important for brands to keep communicating. But there are many small brands that canât afford to do this, and so it is not really a choice for a lot many brands in India,â she said.
Most categories are going to be operating in a ânew normalâ after the crisis. There are opportunities like the festive season, which brands and categories, especially automobiles, cannot afford to miss.
Vijay Kaul, Deputy General Manager - Marketing Communication & PR, Yamaha Motor India, said, âAssessing and understanding the consumer situation post-Covid-19 and seeing if the brands could customise offerings to benefit the customer make for a win-win situation. Especially since the low sentiments and economy uncertainty will follow for a while,â he added.Â
However, Gurmeet Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, Johnson Controls-HitachiÂ Air ConditioningÂ India, feels brands do not need be too cautious when the market opens as the consumer is definitely at the deciding stage of buying with positive buying sentiments for certain categories.
He added, âIt is now the responsibility of brands to work innovatively to create right market perception and bring back consumer confidence in buying. Only through innovation and resilience, brands can win consumer trust with greater brand recall. In our category, as the market opens up, a bigger share could go on the shop conversion of the customer walking into the store. The task in hand is to convert this into actual sales.â