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Shashwat Das, Founder, Almond Branding
Will brand loyalty fade or will it take a backseat for now?
brands

Is brand loyalty dead due to Covid-19?

Will brand loyalty fade or will it take a backseat for now?
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  • Shashwat Das, Founder, Almond Branding shares a few factors on how brands can get their consumers to trust them.
  • He further writes how consumer priorities are shifting, brands who can be agile enough to quickly cater to these new unmet needs, will stay on.
Find out what’s happening to Brand loyalty during Covid. How can brands ensure to retain their loyal consumer base?

Let’s start with a simple truth: No one can predict what the world will be like even a day in the future.

We don’t know what storms the virus will bring next. Or will it mellow and learn to peacefully co-habit without killing us. Is it a dystopian nightmare or just another passing phase? Only time will tell.

Lives have a come to a grinding halt. Realisations are dawning on everyone as they nurse their coffees or whiskeys staring at the Zoom frames on their laptops. The new normal is here. And it’s being redefined every single day.

The world of marketing is tilting on its axis!

It’s how people’s lives are changing that has brands worried and everyone’s in a tizzy trying to figure it out.

Since everyone’s speculating, why not we make some assumptions?

Will they need me?

The times are perilous. The thought running through everyone’s mind is survival and not if Chilean wine is a tad better than French! Or damn, they only have three silk pajamas!

When survival is at risk, our thoughts go back to basics. Do I have enough to eat? What if there’s no supply of medicines or will my infant get enough milk? Will the shops close forever? What do I need to stock up on? What are the things I absolutely must have?

In these questions lie a few answers.

The first assumption is only those brands will be needed that are necessary for survival. These are our everyday products – medicines, soap, grain, vegetables, eggs and such. A new pair of denims? Probably not.

Will consumers remain loyal?

The moot point. It would likely depend on several factors.

Accessibility

If you’re a brand, are you nearby? At hand? Has manufacturing diminished? Are shops amply stocked and is there a regular supply? Are there choices and substitutes to your brand that consumers wouldn’t mind swapping?

Sometimes, especially now, it’s better to have the generic product if a particular brand isn’t available. Any strawberry ice cream is better than not getting a brand of choice. Ditto for every other brand from wafers to soap.

A little willingness to sacrifice on our part on taste, feel, texture, size and other key parameters will at least mean that some biscuits are stocked at home, if not those special ones.

Maybe, a startup can seize the opportunity of the gap between demand and supply and carve a niche for itself. Of course, figuring out how to make and deliver remain the biggest challenges.

Affordability

Tough times do make one tight-fisted. Cutting corners, being wise in spends, honouring that Excel sheet of home expenses are the new norm. For a lot of people, their favourite can’t-do-without brand is suddenly expendable. Look, I am saving so much. Compromise is the forced habit.

Flexibility

Well, if loyalty is being chased, how are you making it easier for the consumer? EMIs? Home delivery? Customisation? Pre-sanitised? Discounts? Add-ons?

Some brands can and for others, it’s just not possible. But the number of contact points has whittled down to almost one! The home. It’s where you will find people. Not at your shop. Not driving staring at your brand billboard.

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Now that consumer priorities are shifting, brands who can be agile enough to quickly cater to these new unmet needs, will stay on. Now that you are staying mostly indoors your deo consumption has gone down and is not on top of your shopping list. At this time if the deo brand still tries to woo you into buying, you might just ignore it.

However, if that same deo brand reaches out with a disinfectant spray that can keep you safe in your day to day life, you will choose your trusted brand over many other such alternatives. This way you still remain a loyal consumer.

The journey from brand to product

Take any brand that you love. Its absence will only make one go out (if you dare) and seek a similar product. It won’t matter what brad it is as long as it’s there. Maybe your fave has stopped production citing labour unavailability. But someone’s making the same stuff at home. Strawberry ice cream is strawberry ice cream as long as it’s there in your fridge! Wafers, detergent, milk, bread, wheat, oil, it’s all the same. The emotional commercial will be forgotten. The months spent agonising on design, logo and packaging will be a distant memory. The box will be plain brown but no one will care.

If it’s readily available, the well-to-do may have their way with a few brands but even then, it’s not an endless supply chain. If you run out of your Havanas, what then? Or your single malt? Oh right, imports. But no flights, no transport, no way.

And there lies the conundrum


Will this loyalty fade or will it take a backseat for now? It’s the bigger brands with the deeper pockets that will slowly spring back to life. Ramp up production, hire more people and be ever-present like before. While the little fellow making pickles or t-shirts or whatever out of a small veranda, garage or a small factory may just wither away, victim to a virus that’s wreaking havoc on lives and economies. Or maybe the smaller brand, you never knew about, might enter your household because your favourite brand wasn’t available, and you and your family members may fall in love with it so much so that it stays on to become the new favourite. Who knows?

Again, only time will tell.

- By Shashwat Das, Founder, Almond Branding.

COVID-19IndiaCases: 906kDeaths: 23.7kRecovered: 571k
COVID-19WorldCases: 12.76MDeaths: 566kRecovered: 7.22M
COVID-19USACases: 3.22MDeaths: 134kRecovered: 1.03M