They say “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. As the world continues to fight the ongoing virus epidemic with unprecedented lockdowns, these are also important days for FMCG brand managers to reflect, plan and act. With people largely confined to their homes, with markets and offices being closed, consumption has already hit bare essential levels. So, the million-dollar question is: How should FMCG firms strategize marketing interventions in this scenario? It seems almost tempting to lay low and observe how this pandemic pans out while pausing the big bucks on marketing. However, with uncertainty being the new normal there can be no bigger mistake than one of lethargy and inaction. Instead, firms need a proactive plan to adjust and adapt how they lead their teams, speak to their customers, and manage their brands. When a brand shows a genuine concern for its stakeholders, the world will eventually notice and acknowledge. Such brands will be remembered for their goodness when it mattered the most — the best possible marker of a truly great FMCG brand.
Listen For Changes
Now more than ever, it’s important to know what customers feel and do then consequently figuring out why they do it. Use social listening and Voice of Customer (VoC) programs to monitor customer discussions about health concerns or information needs relevant to your brand. Ask frontline staff for the changes in behaviour that they would witness first-hand. All firms have been hit hard by this crisis. But only the ones who are aware of the right way to adapt and respond will end up on top.
Advertise The Relevant And Emphasize The Crucial
These are times for great brands to display empathy towards their customers, suppliers, employees and society at large. The fundamental rule is to do good to the world in a somewhat understated manner and with humility.
In spite of a decline in advertising almost across the board, brands can actually step in and support the fight against COVID-19 through sensitive and relevant advertising. Hygiene brands, for instance should deploy relevant public service advertising which will serve the brand as well as their stakeholders.
Take, Amul for example. The firm is known for its iconic advertisements and reliable products. Keeping the current scenario in mind, they launched Turmeric milk followed by world's first Tulsi (Basil) & Ginger milk variants aimed at boosting immunity in a bid to capture consumer sentiments.
Walk The Talk
Marketers must support customers and protect customer relationships while staying honest about what the firm can and cannot deliver at this time. Having said that, it is possible for brands to capture the consumer’s imagination and attention by their acts of philanthropy and social welfare. Take for instance, Harvard Business Review which has made its coronavirus related content free, Coursera which has made its entire offering free to be accessed. Online channels have a truly unique opportunity to entrench themselves firmly in consumers’ minds.
Research For Tomorrow
The world, as we know it, will never be the same even once this pandemic is over. Consumers may think differently, spend differently and plan differently. Would they become more frugal? Would they cut down on luxury spending? Would they order more stuff online at their homes and offices and venture out less? To answer all these questions and to stay ahead of the curve, brands must invest now in marketing research to make better sense of the future realities than their competitors.
New products may be the need of the hour in the new world. Some firms are bound to be more proactive than others when it comes to innovative products. For instance, ITC came up with Neem vegetable and fruit wash which helps disinfect fresh produce while Marico came up with similar product christened Veggie clean.
All Work And No Play Makes …
In the pre-COVID era, experiential retail has gained traction because it catches people in a state where they are likely to respond to and engage with brands. But with consumers cooped up in the confines of their homes now, the onus is on brands to ensure that buyers stay in an engaged and happy frame of mind. So simple gamification techniques like incorporating puzzles, games and trading cards into the packaging or pushing the low-fat options to people concerned about putting on lockdown weight could be exactly the recipe for success.