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Consumer durables upbeat about growth despite challenge posed by second Covid wave

Despite speculation of slowdown, brands expect to grow by up to 16% in 2021, reaching pre-pandemic levels. But at the same time, they do not plan to increase ad spends much this year

Despite the second coronavirus wave posing a challenge to the market, the consumer durables sector is hopeful of reaching pre-Covid levels of growth this year due to a surge in demand. Brands expect to grow by 16% this year while keeping advertising spends minimal and having a relook at their marketing strategies.

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Gurmeet Singh

Quite optimistic about the sales this year, Gurmeet Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning India, foresees pent-up demand pushing sales up to pre-pandemic levels. Led by the demand for residential air-conditioning solutions, the brand is expecting a double-digit growth of around 16% this year.

“While industrial and commercial projects were delayed during the initial lockdown, these are picking up momentum and will contribute to sales for the industry. The pandemic has changed the perspective and influenced the buying behaviour of consumers. Air-conditioners are not luxury, they are a wellness necessity and consumers are willing to invest in the best quality solutions that provide comfort and convenience. The inverter air-conditioner and the hot and cold air conditioner categories would be the buzzword driving sales,” he said.

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Closely monitoring the second wave of the pandemic and well-prepared to handle it efficiently, Voltas also believes that as people spend more time indoors due to the continuation of the hybrid work-from-home model, the demand for need-based products will remain.

The pandemic has boosted overall media consumption and the market dynamics have altered. While the new scenario has created a shift towards ‘phygital media’, sustainability and convenience have taken the centre stage and influencing buying preferences of consumers. This change in trends, especially in the media consumption scenario, has inspired Hitachi’s new media strategy.

Singh said, “Our new-age consumers make educated choices. They have clarity about what they require and use phygital channels to get authentic information before decision making. After studying and understanding all these factors that influence buying behaviour and the decision-making matrix, we devised our marketing strategy. Our marketing investment and media selection has been done on the basis of the new media consumption patterns and sensibilities.”

The brand is going digital in a big way to create a positive perception among its digital-savvy consumers of the new and informed world order. At the same time, it plans to employ traditional marketing tools such as print media in an effective manner to communicate tactical offers to consumers in tier two and tier three markets, keeping in line with their preferred media consumption. However, it doesn’t plan to increase its marketing investments.

He added, “This year, digital media vehicles will have a greater role to play in our marketing strategy, hence an increased focus of resources towards them. There has been a drastic change in global trends and Indian trends, especially in the media consumption scenario. The pandemic has boosted overall media consumption considerably and created a shift towards phygital. Our digital marketing spend has increased two-fold or almost by 100% over the last two-three years. And we are using traditional media vehicles to highlight our tactical campaigns. Since our intended ground will be covered adequately, the overall marketing spends will not be marked up much this year.”

With social distancing bound to remain as the new norm, digital spends will go up for Voltas as well as more people end up searching for home appliances and making purchases online.

“There are multiple ways in which we are trying to innovate and re-look at marketing this year, which is primarily driven by digital. We strive for a holistic 360-degree omni-channel strategy, where we focus on building accessibility to our customers in the ways they expect,” the Voltas spokesperson said.

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