The famous movie starring Julia Roberts, “Eat, pray, love”, has become a catchphrase, representing in a sense, the basic necessities of life in modern society. The character in the movie is on a journey in life seeking meaning in order to discover her true self and achieves some fundamental realisations about the nature of life. COVID 19 too has created such a situation across the world that across all classes of society, many of us have come to a common realisation of what the “essentials” of our life are, and how those who have them are fortunate indeed. The pandemic has wreaked such havoc in societies all across the world that, as society and individuals we have fundamentally changed all the basic habits that have defined how we live.
My family members and I are experimenting with new dishes and learning more about food. My wife runs a food blog, Vaishalee’s Tips & Treats and we are experimenting with one new dish a day. Yesterday she baked Buns which turned out fluffy and delicious, better than the store bought ones that use preservatives. And having hot buns straight out of the oven was a new high. Over and over again, we are able to make food that we usually bought at stores or had at restaurants like Jalebis . Homemade Papri, Golgappe Chaat, Biryani, Breads, Cake, Pizza including the base etc at home together using traditional processes of cooking, with time, patience and love. Friends on social groups too, are sharing and trying out recipes of new dishes everyday. Baking and Cooking has brought families together as a common source of joy. Prior to the lockdown many office goers had food in the office canteens or Cafeterias or ordered in through delivery portals, now home cooked food has a new safety and joy.
In the lockdown, households are shifting to traditional patterns of cooking instead of using ready made, packaged foods. This is a huge shift in consumption habits for the more developed markets across the country. If consumers’ preferences shift to traditional patterns of consumption, it would be a major challenge for many companies selling packaged foods and for the entire restaurant industry. They would need to reinvent themselves completely, either in terms of their product or in terms of their marketing, or both. Restaurateurs are facing extremely difficult and challenging times. Their outlets are facing severe losses and they need to enhance customer traffic to outlets as soon as the lockdown ends. Additionally, implementing social distancing norms and will further eat into their costs.
As a society, we have started looking inwards in all our daily activities and prayers. As a devotee of god Hanuman, I had been going to the temple every Tuesday for the past 40 years. However, I am now worshiping at home with equally firm conviction and there is a deep realisation that if God is in our heart, worshipping at home is equally meaningful as worshiping at the temple outside.
Along with our ways of worshipping, our mode of work too has undergone a drastic change, as millions of people are now working virtually. Tiny tots, of Nursery and KG classes are attending video classes. For business organisations online seminars and conferences, video calls and meetings, digitally shared documents and reporting via instant messaging applications have become the new normal. They were present earlier as well, however, post the lockdowns globally, these forms of communication have experienced explosive growth for business purposes. ‘Zooming’ now has become a commonly used verb to denote online conferencing instead of speed. When the name of a brand becomes common parlance, one can safely say that the use of the product or the category has been well and truly established in everyday life.
Due to the lockdown and new ways of working from home we are saving on time travelling to work and we are able to spend abundant time with our loved ones at home, cooking, playing board games or singing together etc This is certainly creating more love and bonding in our lives
Even more drastic changes have come about in our pursuits of leisure, entertainment, business, social and cultural activities. With virtual family dinners and get-togethers for birthdays or other occasions, live streaming of musical albums instead of musical shows and virtual prayer meetings becoming the accepted norm everywhere, humans have become digitally connected and physically isolated. My group of walking friends meet online every day at 7:15 pm. Earlier, I used to think that working from home was impossible for me, and I am sure millions of people around the world would have felt the same. Now I have already become accustomed to leading my teams for virtual work sessions. Recently, I moderated a health webinar which is just one among the many that are to come.
This trend is not expected to vanish soon. A large Indian multinational IT company has announced its plans to continue remote working till September and many other companies are in the process of making similar plans. What are the new and emerging challenges for marketing in a world where customer behaviour has changed so radically? Companies marketing foods, dining chains, musical events, travel, entertainment shows and malls as well as many other categories of products will require a re-think in the way they do business.
Communicators have begun creating campaigns to carry out continuous customer engagement so that there is better recall among customers. However, it is most important for brands and companies to not only ensure safety and social distancing but also inform all the key stakeholders of the business about the steps taken to ensure the same. This will go a long way to help alleviate the anxiety in the minds of customers, when they contemplate going out post the lockdown. Therefore, assurance of safety will become a key message in all the communications that are done by brands, across all categories.
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