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Sharp business recovery likely in second half of this fiscal, predicts Rohit Ohri of FCB India

In a conversation with, Group Chairman and CEO of FCB India says the print industry could have come up with reader-friendly ideas as new consumer behaviours are created during such times. He says there would be a phenomenal recovery in Q3 and Q4 as brands will start advertising more to kick-start demand

Brands will invest in kick-starting and reigniting demands of consumers in the post-Covid phase and there are assumptions that Q3 and Q4 will see sharp and robust business recovery, feels Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman and CEO of FCB India. “A lot of brands will then come into the market and advertise,” he said.

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The crisis will change consumer habits and lifestyle to an extent and the post-Covid world will be most concerned about health and safety, and brands across categories will have to keep this aspect in mind, he says.

According to Ohri, it is crucial for marketers to boost and bolster the consumer’s sentiments, which is very negative at the moment.

The new normal in the post-Covid world will be creating online experiences for consumers.

Two weeks ago, FCB India partnered with XP&D and created a platform to empower brands and help them in shifting offline experiences to online.

The agency is building a capability in creating zero contact retail experiences, which will come into force in the next couple of days.


The coronavirus outbreak has changed the world when it comes to consumer habits, albeit temporarily. What according to you will become a new norm or stay longer?

There is going to be a pre-Covid and post-Covid era for sure. The crisis will change consumer habits and lifestyle to an extent. There are a few possible trends that we will witness in the post-Covid world.

There will be a permanent concern about health and safety in people across generations.

Every single brand and category will need to satisfy the concern of consumers about their ‘health and safety’ in consumed products. And it is not only how the products are used but how they are getting delivered to the consumers.

Zero contact delivery by food aggregators will be the new normal going forward. It can also go beyond the food space to every category.

There will be a clear understanding of how well peoples’ health and wellness are linked to the health and wellness of nature, environment and planet, which was not the burning issue earlier and is now taken seriously by a larger section of the mass.

Also, experiences have now migrated from offline to online.

A lot of brands and clients will want to create experiences for their consumers online by replicating the offline physical experience.

Consumers are going to see the advantages and benefits of being virtual; whether it is virtual travel and others.

When you say virtual experiences will be the new normal, does this mean an unprecedented boost to digital marketing?

Because of health and safety concerns, there is going to be an increasing amount of interaction of brands with consumers and that ecosystem will migrate online. As a consequence, one could say that there will be a rising amount of reliance on online.

So experiential and events will have to bear the brunt for a much longer duration. Do you fear these mediums will go out of the minds of people and brands?

There will be concerns about large gatherings or being part of huge events. People will follow social distancing till a foreseeable future until we have a proper vaccine for the virus. Brands will have to look at addressing health and safety issues.

Newspaper as a physical copy has a similar danger of going out of people’s habit, at least for those who were somehow sticking to it. What’s your view on this?

The crisis has severely impacted the newspaper industry as people have stopped taking newspapers due to the fear of the virus spreading through the paper. I feel that the newspaper industry has missed a great opportunity of connecting with their readers. Rather than rolling an e-newspaper that replicated the offline version, they should have recast the newspaper into a completely new mobile-first form. This time of crisis could have been the perfect time for newspapers to reinvent themselves. E-paper formats being used today make them very hard to read. Readers are not going to put in effort to read these when they have the option of other online news portals that give easy news updates by the minute. The print industry needed to have come up with reader-friendly ideas. It’s at times like these that new consumer behaviours are created. Unfortunately, most publications seem to be missing the bus.

On the other hand, OTT players who were spending crores of rupees on each show to make people habituated are becoming people’s habit without even spending in the absence of TV shows. Do you see a turning point for them?

Yes, suddenly there are lots of OTT players who are giving access to entertainment to consumers for free, creating a whole sense of demand that consumers would generate. There is a big push that OTT players are doing at this time, but obviously those who will win are the ones that have the best content. Content is king; the viewers are enormous, and just because now they are sitting at home, any rubbish will be seen. If you have the content and access at this particular time, those brands will now do well in the market.

A lot of people who got familiar with OTT in the lockdown will continue to watch it post-Covid as well. The crisis has been a turning point for many OTT players and can continue in the new post-Covid world by focusing on their content and what they deliver to viewers. By doing this, they will do good for themselves and the economy.

Most of the global networks, including IPG, have revised or removed their targets for 2020. How challenging would it be to for agencies to bounce back from the current turbulences?

Brands will invest in kick-starting and reigniting demands and it would be essential to do. It’s hard to say anything right now as we are in a fluid situation, which is continuously changing. Assumptions are Q3 and Q4 will give a sharp and robust recovery. A lot of brands will come into the market and advertise. As we emerge from the crisis, it is crucial to boost and bolster consumer sentiments, which is very depressed and negative.

Brands must come forth and connect with consumers. Advertising is the key medium to connect with consumers at every touch point.

How are agencies preparing to help their clients prepare for the post-Covid market, especially with limited budgets, resources and mediums?

One of the big things we have done with our partnership with XP&D is creating a platform to empower brands and helping them migrate their offline experiences to online.

We are doing a large-scale India research, which will down tail to the large-scale global research that is looking at understanding and predicting the new behaviour of consumers in the post-Covid era. We are hoping it will help our clients with great insights on how they need to pivot their communication, tone and manner of the brand’s quality and quantity of communication in the post-Covid era. We will be able to tailor our messages and get to the right consumer perks to purchase the right points so that we can give the right messaging in this new world.

We are looking at partnering with clients and creating zero contact experiences; that is going to be the new norm and reality. As an agency, we are building the capability of helping clients recreate retail experiences online. In the next four-five days, we are planning to launch our service in that as well.

With the lockdown, do you also see opportunities for the launch of new brand products and services across sectors which were getting imported before?

A lot of manufacturers globally will be looking at how they can produce spare parts themselves for which they were dependent on other countries earlier. Dependency on other countries for products will decrease, and a lot of manufacturers will start building capabilities to make products economically within their own country for the people. There is a fair chance of the launch of new products and brands across sectors.

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