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Ramzan is a peak period for Hamdard's RoohAfza.
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Marketing in the times of COVID-19: Hamdard India

Ramzan is a peak period for Hamdard's RoohAfza.
  • In our latest interview series, we talk to brands to understand how they are coping with the new normal and their strategies towards navigating these difficult times.
  • Mansoor Ali, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Hamdard India tells us which sub-brands are delivering right now, its increasing focus on e-commerce
Hamdard India, that is home to 500 employees and home-grown products like RoohAfza, Safi, Chyawanprash, Sualin, to name a few, has been around for 113 years. It is using its old mantras and new-age marketing to sustain in today’s unusual environment. It is also one of the few companies that hasn’t resorted to salary cuts or lay offs yet. In fact, for Hamdard India, Ramzan is a peak period for its RoohAfza. Due to increasing focus on health, the immunity booster Chyawanprash has also seen an increase in demand.

We caught up with Mansoor Ali, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Hamdard India to find out the brand’s marketing strategy and how it is distributing its products amid a nationwide lockdown.
Excerpts:

Q. Can you give us a perspective on how Hamdard is operating right now? Which sub-brands are you delivering and how?

We have been able to get our manufacturing and supply chain aligned to the market demand. Since it is the beverage season, we are producing and supplying RoohAfza and other essential items to the market with considerable efficiency.

Q. How many employees work with Hamdard India? What kind of measures have you taken to keep them safe?

We have over 500 employees working at Hamdard Laboratories India. All the employees, including sales teams have been on WFH mode from the time the lockdown was announced. Advisories on safety for employees and their families have been sent out constantly. A COVID insurance policy has also been taken to support employees in the event that anything unfortunate happens.

Q. How are you dealing with the economic slowdown, what does this quarter for you look like? Hamdard flourished even after demonetization and GST. However, when so many companies have resorted to laying off employees or salary right now, how do you see your brand taking the brunt?

This quarter started off slow due to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown. But slowly we have managed to assimilate resources and establish our product value chain from manufacturing to supply. Although it is not up-to expectations as per our quarter objectives, we have been able to sustain a sizable part of it. Hamdard, as the name suggests symbolises compassion for everyone. We have not resorted to any layoffs or salary cuts as of now.

Q. Considering how people are becoming more health-conscious, have you seen an increase in demand for Chyawanprash?

Yes, Chyawanprash as a category has grown across brands and markets.

Q. What does your larger marketing strategy look like right now?

Our marketing strategy, for the short term is in adaptive mode, wherein consumer behaviour during lockdown, and changed media consumption habits are important drivers in deciding campaigns and inputs to market. Media mixes have been tweaked, and digital/ social media marketing has taken a much larger chunk of our marketing spends. Influencer marketing and user generated content is driving engagement and brand salience in consumers.

Q. TV viewership and digital engagement continue to increase, where are you betting your money?

As explained in the previous question on our marketing strategies that is where we are spending. In addition to on TV campaigns, we have aligned our media mix to focus more on genres like news, movies etc which have taken the centre stage amidst this lockdown.

Q. How have you seen consumer behavior change in the past month?

Consumers have been induced into a new normal. The initial focus was on filling up on essentials, driven by the panic of not having enough at home. Once that was achieved, consumer emotion has shifted from structured, everyday routine to indulging in family oriented themes, back to natural concepts, and a unique sense of self awareness in terms of health and mental well-being. Consumers have focussed their energies on enhanced interactions on the digital space, with OTT platforms and online media taking prime share. Work as a concept has taken on new meaning, with WFH being as effective (if not more) in many sectors. This will have an overarching impact on people’s priorities in making choices on lifestyle and consumption.

Q. How do you think retail will function once we resume normalcy? Will you continue betting more money on e-comm even then?

Structured retail (modern trade) will take a hit for some more time. A lot of first time users have interacted with, and seen the benefits of e-commerce, and that will continue to grow. Covid-19 has in many terms been an inflection point for Indian consumers to adopt digital media, e-com and cashless transactions. Our focus on e-com will continue to grow.

Q. As a brand who is a 'companion in pain' and specializes in health and wellness, do you plan on launching new health care products such as sanitizers, fruit wash or hand wash with a 'Hamdard' touch?

We will continue to invest in categories that are close to our core.

COVID-19IndiaCases: 145,380Deaths: 4,167Recovered: 60,491
COVID-19WorldCases: 5.31mnDeaths: 342kRecovered: 2.23mn
COVID-19USACases: 1.59mnDeaths: 96kRecovered: 379k
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