- 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.
- In today’s interview,
Prashin Jhobalia, Vice President, Marketing Strategy, House of Hiranandanitells us how the lockdown has impacted business and how they have re-caliberated their marketing strategiesto navigate the new normal.
People have been self-isolating, venturing out only to get essentials. Moreover, considering we are still seeing the infected numbers go up everyday, there’s a possibility that the lockdown will be extended beyond May 3.
The lockdown has led to a complete shutdown of work for mediums like OOH and experiential. Even the Print media is suffering with more and more advertisers pulling out their marketing monies.
In such a scenario, what are brands that rely heavily on these mediums navigating the situation?
To understand the current situation, we recently caught up with Prashin Jhobalia, Vice President, Marketing Strategy, House of Hiranandani who told us about the effect of the current lockdown on their brand and how they are working towards ensuring that the impact is reduced.
Q) How have the past few weeks been for the brand, considering the country has been in a lockdown?
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the marketing fraternity to some unique challenges. For a real estate brand like us, selling apartments from a makeshift office at home was unthinkable. However, the realities have been harsh and we have been compelled to stay up during these trying times. Adoption of new technology, unique manner of reaching customers and communicating sensitively has been the new norm for the team. Marketing and sales have been completely driven digitally and the results have been astonishingly great in conditions as this.
Q) What kind of business impact is the current situation having? What kind of expectations do you have from the rest of the year?
COVID-19 has resulted in economic disturbance across the globe. All investment assets including the stock market, gold have been impacted greatly due to the virus scare. Among such circumstances real estate, which remains immune to instant economic instability, seems to be a safe bet for investment and will prove to be a frontrunner in such volatile conditions. However, since home buying involves a huge investment and also is an emotional decision, after lockdown is lifted home buyers will prefer visiting the property once before closing the deal. We expect to see a rise in conversions once the situation normalizes.
Q) What is your marketing strategy right now? How have you been trying to continue building a connection with your audience? Has there been a change in your media mix?
While there has been immense challenge on the economic front due to COVID -19, we have aggressively upgraded our existing digital ecosystem using which our sales teams can meet potential customers digitally. We have deployed a series of new prop techs such as 360 degree tours of projects, virtual realty, and video conferencing to provide the buyer with an immersive experience of the property. Through these digital tools we have successfully given them a sense of what the brand has to offer, even while the buyer is situated at a distance and has never visited the property.
Our digital promotions are working well and we have witnessed a rise in the number of enquiries. Serious home buyers, from domestic and international markets are using this time to digitally experience the property along with their family members and solve all their property related queries. Increased focus in digital mediums has also definitely called for an increase in spends for the digital mediums than the expenditure done before the COVID-19 crisis.
Q) What are a few key learnings for you as a brand in the last few weeks?
The COVID-19 pandemic has made us realize certain situations which we could have never imagined could be a possibility. Continuing with business functions in such challenging times has taught us the importance of being agile. The crisis has made brands understand the importance of adapting new mediums of communication and being digitally sound. While brands maintain the connect with their customers, it is also a time to have relevant communication and yet be sensitive without sounding opportunistic.
Q) If the lockdown is extended beyond May 3, will you be tweaking your marketing strategy further?
Our existing digital strategy is working well. There are no plans to make any changes in the strategy at present.
Q) How do you think you as a brand have been making a difference in spreading awareness/contributing to the society at large?
House Of Hiranandani is a brand involved in developing communities and creating social infrastructure such as schools, departmental stores, day care centres within these communities. Our ethos have been to create an environment where the day to day needs of most of the consumers are fulfilled within these townships. Staying digitally connected with their audience and the society at large has become extremely pertinent for every brand during the lockdown period. We too have been connecting with our customers through our social media platforms and are adopting interactive and engaging communication methods to engage with them digitally. We have been providing regular updates related to the infection to our customers and are also informing them about the protective measures which they can adopt to stay away from the disease. Also, we have undertaken welfare initiatives towards labourers at our construction sites and dissuaded them from leaving the site to their hometown.
Q) There's a thin line in terms of a brand's communication in times of crisis where marketing communications can be misread as opportunist or even insensitive. How are you working around this tightrope and ensuring there isn't any miscommunication?
These are unprecedented times where each one of us is perplexed, anxious and are looking for solutions. At such an hour, Brands can take the onus on themselves and can play that critical role in reducing fears and pass on important information to educate and enlighten the public at large. As a leading brand, we too have been trying our best towards contributing to the society at such trying times and have tried to reduce the panic among our audience by keeping them engaged through our engaging initiatives and communication. For instance, we recently conducted a campaign through our online portals where we shared several activities with our consumers which they can do for 21 days to beat the monotony of the lockdown and ensure that the health and wellness of their family members is intact. Our brand has also been constantly supporting the various government initiatives and through our engaging content and campaigns we have been trying our best to motivate people to stay safe and stay indoors. We believe that we can overcome this global crisis through collective effort and hence we have been contributing through our small actions to benefit the society at large.