#RTPRIMETIME – How is Communication Influencing Buying Decisions in the New Normal

Reputation Today in partnership with Fuzion PR organised the fourth edition of Regional PrimeTime on Wednesday, 7th October. The focus of the panel discussion was how communication is influencing buying decisions in the new normal. The session began with an introduction of the panelists who included Gaurav Sinha – Head of marketing & PR at Audi India; Konia Khanna – Head of marketing at Swarovski; Minol Ajekar – Head of Corporate Communications, CSR and Business Operations at Purvankara Limited and Snehhal Chitneni – Director for Communications, Sustainability, Public Affairs and Ethics at LOreal India and moderating the panel was Mukesh Kharbanda, Founder and Managing Director at Fuzion PR .

The moderator started the discussion by asking the panelists about the change in the the way brands are communicating today. Konia Khanna took the lead and emphatically said that communications professionals are now seen as “that engine that makes the whole organisation believe in the brand”. Their role is now getting it’s due recognition, as every employee in an organisation is a brand custodian, and they need to internalise the brand purpose before they can make a customer convinced of it.

Authenticity is key now, and every panelist seemed to second that thought. Active listening is emerging as the new way of communicating with potential and existing customers. What are your customers saying about the brand and its products/services? What are more do they have need for? What stand do they expect the brand to take? Active listening is enabling brands to take all of this into account to further strengthen their relationship with their existing customers and attract new ones.

Emotional Quotient and Empathy

Minol Ajekar shared an incident when a video call was arranged with a potential customer. While addressing his concerns about Puravankara’s safety measures, the employee on the call shared how he’d just had a baby girl, and post that, taking care of his customers’ safety became even more of a priority for him because going back to his family, proud of his day’s work, now held a greater meaning to him. That authentic, empathic communication of emotions hit home with the customer. The story beautifully elucidates how authentic emotions take communications to newer heights and depths.

Measurement in Communications

Gaurav Sinha insisted that setting of objective must be the first step leading to any communications campaign. Different brands have different benchmarks. Even within a brand, what one is trying to achieve differs with each campaign. So, it is evident that measurement in communications has to be very nuanced. Digital media comes with several measurement tools. But that’s just the beginning. How you interpret the insights gained from said tools and use it to bolster your communications practices further – is the real art.

Communications in times of crisis

Snehhal Chitneni asserted that the current pandemic has accelerated digital transformation to which Minol buoyantly added that crisis is the time for communications professionals to shine. Though there is added pressure to tackle multiple communications tasks, like, internal communication, media communications, stakeholder communications, what they essentially do in times of crisis is protecting the company’s license to operate, emphasised Snehhal. And it is a job worth doing and has also started to garners accolades from all nooks and corners of the organisation.

How consumer behaviour is changing

Consumers are now focused on quality more than ever before. And it’s not just quality of the product, it’s the quality of the entire experience that s/he has with the brand right from the first touchpoint. Like Konia  rightly put it, the consumer is no longer worried about the price. Once the brand can communicate why their product/service is special, and why the consumer deserves special – it’s a done deal. Addressing the “trigger points” of consumers is a skill that communicators need to master, according to Gaurav.

The role of influencers

Snehhal was confident that influencer marketing is the next big thing for brands as long as the brand chooses the right influencer to represent it, as long as “there is a match in values”. To maintain the authenticity of the entire practice, it’s essential for brands to give the influencer a framework to work within with ample of space for them to interpret the product/service their way and work their brilliant magic. Goes without saying, it’s important to be transparent when any kind of sponsorship is involved.

Keywords in communications today

Sharing the keywords they use the most in their communications, Gaurav was quick to harp on “passion”! Konia said she is all about “purpose”. Minol took a different approach and said “data-driven communications” was important to her and Snehhal refused to get “caught up in the jargon of our own making” and hailed clarity in content and of purpose of communication as most important.

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

Sulagna Chakraborty
Student at SCoRe. Aspiring to make it big in the world of PR. A passionate learner who likes to read, write and listen. Loves spending time with children. Ted Talks inspire her. Dreams of being a motivational speaker one day, giving one of her own Ted talks.

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