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Saregama's communication will be more cause-based in the future.
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COVID-19 has changed the face of marketing making it follow the pillars of empathy, trust, and necessity: Ajit Kumar, Saregama

Saregama's communication will be more cause-based in the future.
  • The world as we know is going through a shift with new behaviors emerging. Brands are having to re-imagine their strategies and re-align.
  • We spoke to Ajit Kumar, Senior Vice President – Sales & Marketing, Saregama on how the brand is modifying it's marketing strategies in this new world order.
  • Kumar tells us that moving forward, their communication will be more cause-based, emotional, attempting to bring more happiness to the family, and as well as the elderly.
  • He also tells us that brands need to follow the behavioral shift amongst consumers and communicate in the way they want to consume information, through the right platform and with messaging that is value-oriented, educational, and compassionate
The world as we knew it, even till a few months back, has undergone a huge change. Consumer behaviour is undergoing a massive change.

The way brands used to communicate with the consumers is changing. In adverse situation like this, it is more about building a connect and ensuring it stays rather than hard-selling a product.

Consumers are now being careful about where they spend and therefore brands are having to work even harder to make themselves relevant to it's consumer's life.

The way brands are using media is also changing. Many brands that used to be heavily dependent on traditional mediums now feel digital and social media is their best bet.

For a brand like Saregama's Carvaan, the last few months have been about studying the shifts in consumer behavior and re-thinking and re-evaluating their strategy. We recently spoke to Ajit Kumar, Senior Vice President – Sales & Marketing, Saregama, to understand how the brand has been navigating the last few months.

Excerpts:

Q) How have the lockdown months been for the organization? What kind of business impact have you seen?

The COVID-19 outbreak is making both consumers and brands face a new reality. The world as we know is going through a shift with new behaviors emerging. In this scenario, as a brand, we had to re-think and re-evaluate our strategy to adapt to this new environment. While the quantum of the impact remains unknown, the relaxation of lockdown in places is helping us spread our reach. With a product like Carvaan, our key aim was not to market our product but to showcase how it can be your companion even in the darkest times. While we face the pandemic, one thing that has united people across the globe is the power of music, and we are happy to lend support wherever we can, with a product that is so close to our heart.

Q) What has your strategy been to minimize the impact as an organization?

As an organization, we are in diverse businesses like Films, YouTube, Licensing and Retailing of Carvaan. Digital consumption picked up tremendously during the lockdown while retail did suffer. But this did not bring the morale down, we utilized this time to train our sales team on our products through various online training sessions. We encouraged people to learn new things be it social media or do online trainings or re-plan and re-think our go to market strategy so that we are ready as soon as the markets open. We knew the moment things settle, this will help them as an individual and us as an organization. We actually took many projects during the lockdown and completed them without any delay. We have only seen productivity going up during these tough times. Now the things are opening up slowly, we are able to reap benefits of what we learnt and strategized in last few momonths.

Q) Tell us a bit about your recent Ghar Le Aayein campaign. What was the thought behind donating Carvaans to old-age homes?


Our campaign was created keeping in mind the current times, and human psychology. Though the unlock phase has begun, there is a fear of the unprecedented impact of the virus, especially on the elderly, who are more prone to it. So, they would be not left alone at home even as others start to step out. Through this campaign, we aimed to position Saregama Carvaan as a companion to the elderly. The product will cater to and fulfill their need for entertainment, old melodies being an emotional connect. Children can gift their parents Saregama Carvaan, to help them cope with boredom during the times they are alone at home. We also took a step further by donating Carvaans to old age homes to spread smiles amongst the elderly, to help them find solace and companionship in these challenging times, and comfort them.

Q) Speaking from a marketing perspective, how different was your strategy during the lockdown?

The lockdown made people very digital-friendly and people started to spend a lot of time on social media and other online platforms. So we moved to digital completely. This included increased content consumption, content creation and experience sharing. We did a #stayhome series where people created content from home and shared with us, people shared their experiences of how they were using Carvaan to sail through these times, the consumption of our podcasts on Carvaan 2.0 went up. Infact, Bhagwad Gita was one of the highest heard podcast. So all in all, it was a very evolving experience and future strategies will be made keeping the changing behavior in mind.

Q) Do you think marketing took a greater purpose during this adverse time?

COVID-19 has changed the face of marketing – making it follow the pillars of empathy, trust, and necessity. Navigating through the new normal has forced brands to now focus on messaging on the lines of compassion and craft narratives which are reassuring and relatable to consumers in these unprecedented times. Now more than ever, consumers need to see brands action their communication – whether it is the core product promise or leading a cause to support communities. As brands, we need to follow the behavioral shift amongst consumers and communicate in the way they want to consume information, through the right platform and with messaging that is value-oriented, educational, and compassionate. With content consumption at an all-time high on social media, online platforms have become an important tool in the marketing mix to engage with consumers.

Q) As a marketer, what has been your biggest learnings from the Covid-19 experience been?


The global pandemic has left a long-lasting effect on every aspect of our lives. The virus along with the lockdown has fueled changes in the consumer and brand space altogether. This year has brought about some major learnings – in terms of harboring a simple life or valuing every moment. As a brand, we believe that we can now bring together our learnings to move forward and evolve. We are embracing the consumer bond and hoping to only grow it stronger in the future while keeping the feelings of nostalgia intact.

Q) While the country is opening up, there's still some time for people to go back to retail shops. In such a scenario, how are you reaching out to consumers? Are you strengthening your presence on e-commerce?

We are available on various e-commerce platforms already – like Amazon, Flipkart etc and we have our own ecommerce platform as well. Consumers can also place their orders on our website, where we offer deliveries across India, with utmost care. As consumers couldn’t find products in traditional outlets due to the ongoing pandemic, our approach shifted from information-first ads to a more sales-driven strategy where we communicated that the product is available on digital websites.

Q) Innovation is important for Saregama as an organisation. Are you also planning to expand on your offerings or innovating on your current portfolio?


As a brand, we want to constantly evolve and offer a vast portfolio to the consumers, which are more than just products – but also mean something to them. Innovating with impact has been our key goal, and we wish to pursue it further – with nostalgia at the core. However, as mentioned earlier, we have increased our digital portfolio, by introducing additional 11,000 songs – thereby increasing our digital presence in over 12 languages.

Q) Saregama has been partnering with other platforms like Spotify and Facebook. What's been the thought? Will we see more such partnerships in the future? Are partnerships the way forward for the music industry?

The ways and formats of content consumption has evolved rapidly over the past few years. Saregama holds an evergreen library of over 100 years and we are creating/ acquiring new music too. We want to be available possibly on all platforms which has an audience for our music. The industry is moving too fast, we would like to be aligned to changes.

Q) What are your broad marketing plans for the rest of the year? What will your area of focus as a marketer be?

The pandemic has witnessed the shift of advertising budget from traditional marketing like print, and ATL-outdoor activities to digital and mobile marketing, with the end-users being indoors, and preferring to consume content primarily on their mobile phones or TV. For the coming quarters, our marketing strategy would be more digitally-driven. There has been a rise in engagement and we are able to analyze real-time conversations and ROI for our brand. With a limited budget, you are concerned about spending every penny, which is where digital is working very well for us. Moving forward, our communication would be more cause-based, emotional, attempting to bring more happiness to the family, and as well as the elderly. In the post-COVID-19 world, brands need to think beyond and explore innovative tactics to reach out to their audiences. We, as a brand, will focus on two areas: Understanding consumer behavior and knowing analytics. It would be key as the way consumers interact/behave would be different in the post-COVID-19 world than during and pre-COVID-19 era.