Indian consumers choose brands that walk the talk

I was surfing the Internet (something I do a lot in the pandemic) through what brands are doing to communicate to the outside world and touch base with their target audience to increase recall in the midst of this pandemic. Something striking was that all companies seem to be singing the same song of ‘Saluting our Heroes’ or altering logo’s to add a mask or show social distancing. While it’s a noble thing, I don’t think saluting & reminders to wear a mask means much without brands actually being socially conscious and being able to walk the walk.

Most aspirational brands cannot talk aspiration in their advertising cause this is the age of consumer resistance and only those that talk safety and security are payed attention to. But does that mean that all companies need to come to a standstill or take advantage of that fear and use fear in advertising or can they really go the extra mile and actually contribute towards the betterment during the pandemic by utilizing their resources and tweaking business lines to cater to consumers. It has become imperative to think of innovative ways to engage with our stakeholders while staying relevant and adding value.

Take for instance a company which talks about employee welfare being a priority and at the same time a mere social media search of the company shows that employees have been retrenched and working conditions are harsh. The virus no doubt is forcing many businesses across the world to make uncomfortable choices about their workforce. But communicate with conviction and not merely for jumping on the bandwagon.

With uncertainty, customers may hold off or cancel purchases or delay payments on dues; brands can overcome this scenario with promotions like no payments for 60 days, free financing, price discounts, and more. New business cannot be your focus, but helping your existing customers by striking a dialogue with them to understand ways in which your business can help them should be key. Gaining your customer’s loyalty can be much more rewarding in the long run.

There has been a shift towards products highlighting safety, transparency, and sustainability in India, amid the novel coronavirus. Should companies falling in the above categories then turn to profiteering or be responsible capitalists. Take for example HUL, which has seen a sharp rise in snack products due to people who are staying home and can’t stop munching. But keeping health at the core during a pandemic the company increased the contents of zinc in Horlicks and donated the first 1.5 lakh packs to hospitals across the nation that treat COVID-19 positive patients, in addition to earmarking Rs 100 cr to help the country fight this crisis. The Tata group opened its premium hotels properties up for medical professionals to stay, in additions to allocating Rs 1500 cr towards COVID relief.

A study on Indian consumers spending by McKinsey & Company in July 2020, revealed that Indian consumers have started focusing more on healthy and hygienic packaging and companies’ treatment of employees while making buying decisions. Also 91% of consumers have tried a new shopping behavior, including different brands and places to shop. Consumers are becoming more mindful of where they spend their money and also researching brands prior to trying out new ones and also reviewing what their old brands are doing before taking a call on staying loyal.

Consumers see through the lip service advertising and are opting for companies which are actually making a difference. In the wake of the pandemic, consumer disposition and trust in brands is clearly wavering. Marketers are adjusting to a new world with changing consumer habits and need to evolve their strategies so as to keep brands relevant. Many new brands are gaining market share by staying relevant and real.

Support your consumers, now is the time when consumers want to know that your brand is there for them and you are more than just a corporation. If consumers feel that they can trust your brand and rely on you during challenging times, they will be more likely to remember your brand and ultimately choose you over others when the time comes.

Life cannot be the same in the post-COVID-19 world, this is not a time for companies to show generic, hollow, or hypocritical sentiments so make sure you choose your communication wisely, because the companies that make it out for the next phase will be the ones which adapt wisely.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Diana Monteiro
Diana is a skilled communication specialist with a demonstrated history of working with domestic and international brands in marketing & communications in the financial services industry. A former anchor with Bloomberg TV and ET Now and currently a Communications leader at Magma Fincorp., she has worked in the fields of Public Relations, Brand and Corporate Reputation, Media Relations, Social Advocacy, Crisis Management and Corporate Social Responsibility.

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