- Marketing has always been about understanding how a consumer reacts to certain triggers and how brands can use that to influence them.
- After the year 2020 turned the marketing world upside down, brands and businesses of all sizes had to reimagine their communication strategies and evolve with the rapidly changing times.
- Brands started offering a helping hand to consumers by leveraging their social media presence to either amplify citizens’ SoS for ICU beds or to spread awareness around vaccination registration.
- In 2021, the focus shifted primarily to digital channels owing to the pandemic.
- As we enter a new year with a lot of hope and optimism for the future, we speak to a few brands to discuss how the pandemic impacted their marketing activities and what the future holds for marketing.
Brands also moved along with the great digital migration of consumers and expanded their digital presence. They also factored in the massive economic upheavals due to the pandemic and offered value-based deals. They engaged with consumers on smart devices and interfaces across the home, expanded their media mix to include virtual reality, video conferencing platforms and video gaming platforms.
This year’s Ipsos and Tetra Pak report found that the personal, economic and environmental fragility experienced during the global pandemic has created a shift from more passive concern to active caretaking -- driven by the desire to protect ourselves, our communities and the security of the planet. People are being more proactive in making the right purchases – for their own wellbeing and for the environment around them. This includes dietary choices and recycling more and reducing waste. As a result, we have seen more eco-friendly product and packaging launches this year. The concern for the environment will only grow stronger and brands will be expected to align themselves with a larger purpose.
With a new-found appreciation for life and altered perspectives towards marketing, we reached out to Indian brands from different sectors to find out what are some of the trends that they expect to see in 2022. Here is what they said:
Pankaj Sharma, Director – Consumer Products Division, L’Oréal India:
Indian beauty consumers have become more discerning as they move between online + offline buying and experiencing paradigms. And in this journey, eCommerce will continue to play a big role in driving beauty in India. It has created more opportunities for consumer experience and demand fulfillment. The initiatives like live streaming, e-BAs, Video-Content on DIY have enabled new touchpoints. This has allowed more specific media and activation plans for each region, depending on the festive peaks. For example, at L’Oréal India, we used Insta-Festive as one of our umbrella themes and could do insta-diwali, insta-pujo, insta-karwa, insta-onam as activation points to engage with consumers on e-commerce and digital with the power of data.
Apart from targeting festive occasions, we are moving towards occasion-led purchases, celebrating personal milestones of life. Hence beauty brands are sending out relevant brand communications throughout the year, with the same rigor, as one would have done during the festive season before. The festive season, however, still sees an uptick in purchases and offers a variety of formats to give consumers what they’re seeking.
Raunika Malhotra, President - Marketing & Corporate Communications, Lodha:
In the coming year, I see stakeholder marketing becoming increasingly relevant. It essentially means working towards creating value for all stakeholders that include customers, employees, vendors, communities, natural capital, cities, etc. The other trend that we will witness is the increased use of analytics and data scientists in marketing communication and performance. Lastly, the pandemic has made people more conscious of the community and the environment at large. They are looking to engage with brands with shared values of doing good for the society and the planet.
Abhishek Shahabadi, Vice President & Portfolio Head, Scotch and Premium Whites Diageo India:
There’s been good momentum on Diageo India brands in 2021, despite operational challenges due to pandemic led restrictions. This is attributed to the growing trend of ‘at-home drinking’. The off-trade salience increased to 88% compared to 73% in the pre-pandemic phase, as individuals were constrained to more intimate drinking occasions at home. We see at-home drinking as a strong trend coupled with the growth of outdoor experiences in 2022 as the market opens.
Keeping this in mind, Diageo India continues to strengthen its in-home play through off-trade and digital along with influencer engagement to embrace ways to make at-home drinking experiences more enjoyable.
Arnab Roy, Vice President, Marketing, Coca-Cola India & Southwest Asia:
While this year has tested the thinking and resilience of brands worldwide, going forward, we hope that the pandemic continues to regress and we get the real magic back into our lives. As people step out of their homes more often, they will be looking out for more real activities like watching blockbusters at multiplexes, visiting their favourite food “gullies” and travelling more frequently with their loved ones. Post COVID we are also seeing a trend where people are more experimentative and open to new genres of music, food, sports and entertainment. It is thus imperative for brands to deliver integrated experiences at a global scale with the agility, speed and data-driven insights that are required to win locally.
Ramesh Kalyanaraman, Executive Director – Kalyan Jewellers:
Gold has always been a preferred consumption item for Indians and in the post COVID-19 era, it has also emerged as one of the safer and more lucrative long-term assets.
The dynamic market scenario and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led to renewed interest from younger consumers who bought into the idea of gold jewellery, for the first time. Today’s young consumers or millennials consider jewellery as a fashion statement and a style symbol that will go with their sensibilities and help them showcase their true self. Because of this, it has become increasingly critical for jewellery companies to keep up with newer trends and address the changing sensibilities and consumer preferences in this ever-evolving business environment.
To address the ongoing digital transformation in India’s jewellery industry, we are focusing on creating a holistic ecosystem, strengthening our omnichannel strategy and making the ‘phygital’ model more seamless. Over the past few years, we have been making consistent investments in developing and leveraging technology to offer convenient solutions to customers for purchasing jewellery or investing in gold. As a result of this, we were well-positioned to adapt to this digital transformation and ventured into newer product categories such as Digital Gold as well as explored newer avenues to reach our customers by introducing services such as Gold Ownership Certificate and LIVE Video Shopping facility, which allowed customers to browse through and purchase jewellery at the comfort of their homes.
One of the biggest trends that have emerged out of the nationwide lockdown is an enormous increase in the screen time spent by Indians across digital platforms. In line with this, brands have aligned their marketing budgets towards digital, social media & OTT, especially for including new content. Following this, we have introduced temporary changes to our media mix with a more digital-centric approach, which is a key to making the most during this quarter.
With 2022 around the corner, we aim to continue moving forward on this growth trajectory and register consistent growth while widening our consumer base.
Kartik Johari, Vice President - Marketing & Commerce, Nobel Hygiene:
2022 will be the golden year for great marketeers, as content will reign supreme. We are drowning in a glut of content, be it 10 sec Reels, to full-blown documentaries. Consumers on the other hand are oscillating between anxiety, fright and boredom. The challenge is up to us, to create content that can engage, reassure, add value and be honest. It is so important to keep a track of how many people the content reaches, who engages, and what they say. We have never had so much data on our interactions and it is time we start using data better! It should be an interesting year for strong brand teams.
Ketan Kulkarni, Chief Commercial Officer, Blue Dart:
The world has acclimatized to the ‘new normal’ and what seemed to be the most challenging obstacle of 2020, has now enabled us to prepare for any unprecedented events that could cause business disruptions in the future. A major factor in actualizing this is agility driven by technology and automation. The role of logistics has been highlighted over the last two years given our industry’s essential service status and this has only been possible because of the technology-based solutions adopted by resilient players.
2022 will definitely see an enhancement in the ‘Technology-led transformation’ that we are witnessing today. Digitalization across the supply chain from first mile to last mile is the future of the industry; technology enabling near-autonomous facilities, robotics, drone-delivery systems, and 3D/additive manufacturing are going to be adopted very quickly. The reason is, in the event of another unprecedented crisis, organizations would want to ensure ‘business-as-usual’ to cause minimal business disruptions. The underlying theme of 2022 would revolve around creating business models that will survive in a ‘less-contact’ society.
Amrinder Singh, Director, Bonn Group of Industries:
It's been a fantastic year of change and recovery for both consumers and businesses. Consumers prioritised their safety while dealing with illness, job loss, lack of available products and services. Anticipating change and adapting for future challenges accordingly can help enterprises see around corners and plan effectively for the post-pandemic consumer. Businesses are riding on the pandemic-accelerated digital transformation wave and the trend is likely to continue. Around 80% of companies are allocating resources to improving their e-commerce and shopping platforms. This includes a full 60% investment in their digital direct-to-customer (DTC) channels. The digital shift also includes transforming internal capabilities and creating efficiencies with the help of technology. The future of retail will be omnichannel shopping or phygital retail. New technologies will continue to transform the retail sector with rapid change and innovation. Retail consumers will expect frictionless and tech-enabled experiences. As retailers and manufacturers embrace a direct-to-consumer model through e-commerce, traditional marketing channels will continue to blur.
Satish NS, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Haier Appliances India:
Today, hyper-personalization is inevitable for brands to get closer to their consumers. More than ever before, brands need to work on identifying and nurturing relevant cohorts for the business and reach out to them with tailored content that strikes an instant connection between the brand and its consumers. Since digital gives us the liberty to phenomenally reduce the distance between a brand and its customers, it’s important to create critical touchpoints along the consumer journey that will enable a more immersive brand experience with a 360-degree approach. Moreover, leveraging creative strategies on digital to deliver business impact will continue to become even more important in the coming years. Next year, we will also see an uptick in brands that will be experimenting big with performance marketing tools to help drive better ROI for the business.
Manish Bandlish, Managing Director, Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable Pvt. Ltd:
The year 2021 was yet again a dynamic year however, the revival has been remarkable for us at Mother Dairy. Preparedness coupled with collaboration, resilience and agility played a vital role in the pandemic stressed quarter of this year, to ensure wellbeing of each and every employee as well as business continuity in order to serve our consumers. The year saw new products, markets and experiences, both for the business as well as the consumers. Despite the happenings, this year saw consistent supplies as varied channels such as e-commerce continued big-time. In addition, the consumption trend of consumers which began witnessing a change last year are persistent this year as well with in-home consumption and preference for packaged foods going strong.