Marketing in the times of Covid-19: Metro Brands
Alisha Malik, Vice President, E-commerce and Marketing, Metro BrandsMetro
Here's how brands are reworking their marketing strategies during the Covid-19 lockdown

Marketing in the times of Covid-19: Metro Brands

Here's how brands are reworking their marketing strategies during the Covid-19 lockdown
  • 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, Alisha Malik, Vice President, E-commerce and Marketing, Metro Brands, tells us about their key learnings from the Covid-19 experience so far and how they have been trying to adapt to the situation.

As the dynamic Covid-19 situation keeps evolving on a day-to-day basis, brands are learning to adapt to this new normal. Businesses across the globe have been affected due to the lockdown. In India too, with the entire country under a lockdown, and malls and shops forced to remain closed, retail has been severely hit.

However, as they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going and that is what a lot of organizations and brands have been trying to do. From spreading awareness about the current situation to spreading positivity through marketing communications, brands have been ensuring they don’t lose touch with their consumers.

We recently caught up with Alisha Malik, Vice President, E-commerce and Marketing, Metro Brands who walked us through Metro Brands’ marketing strategy and how it has aligned itself to this changed world.

Edited excerpts:

Q) How have the past few weeks been for the brand, considering the country has been in a complete lockdown?

While our retail stores continue to be closed, we are ensuring that as a brand we are consistently engaging with our customers. In the current scenario employee and customer safety is our priority. As a brand we choose to stay positive and also spread awareness and positivity via social media engagement. Customers are showing a lot of love towards the brand by engaging with us. One of our customers baked a special Metro Shoes cake and had emailed us the pictures. As a token of appreciation, we acknowledged it on social media and also gave her a special voucher.

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?

Eventually this storm will pass, and what customers will remember is, how the brand made them feel. The Covid–19 lockdown has also changed the way we consume content and media. Marketing strategies need to be aligned to this change. While it’s important to be aware of what’s happening around, its equally important to stay positive and relevant as a brand. We are doing a lot of engagement through our Mochi and Metro social media handles, to stay connected and spread positivity, be it educating and spreading awareness about social distancing or content that encourages everyone to constructively spend their time at home in a qualitative manner, staying connected with family and friends, some fun at home and much more. We have also proactively extended their loyalty points for another 6 months.

Q) What are a few key learnings for you as a brand in the last few weeks?

As a brand and marketeer, one of our biggest learning is that its important to quickly change and adapt marketing strategies to the change. Its also important, not to be silent and consistently be in touch with customer.

Q) Since the lockdown has been further extended, will you be tweaking your marketing strategy further?

Yes, the marketing strategies will be further tweaked. We will continue to innovate with different ways of keeping the customer engaged via digital and loyalty platforms. While our retail stores continue to stay closed, we will serve our customers via e-commerce during the second phase of the lockdown. Our e-commerce warehouse might now be allowed to function. We have put in place stringent SOPs to ensure our staff’s safety. There are active sanitization plans in place for the warehouse and our stocks, before the warehouse opens and at regular intervals, once the operations begin. Thermal scanners for staff entering the warehouse, making sure everyone has their mask and gloves on, are a few other safety measures being adhered to. In this second phase of the lockdown, our focus will also be on gaining customer confidence through consistent safety messaging and supporting e-commerce, without being perceived as opportunistic.

Q) How do you think you as a brand, have been making a difference in spreading awareness/contributing in whichever way you can?

Safety of our employees and customers is utmost priority for us. Even before the lockdown started, the safety measures required were effectively communicated to all our employees, including the front-end. We have set up health helplines for all our employees so that they have support during this crisis. Moreover, to spread awareness among customers, we are doing a lot of digital content promoting social distancing, wearing masks and even making your own masks

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?

I totally agree to this. And hence, before every piece of content is put out, it’s important to evaluate the same again, from the eyes of the customer. We are very conscious about every communication that each of our brands are doing. In fact, our Metro Shoes digital campaign is #Shoesoff, which revolves around the promotion of staying at home and actively using this time to do different things. We have laid down a few guidelines for our communications during this time. There is also a phase-wise marketing strategy in place to handle this situation