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Kartik Mohindra, Chief Marketing Officer, Pernod Ricard IndiaPernod Ricard
How brands are navigating the new normal

We foresee a deeper engagement at the traditional off-trade and rise of the modern trade: Kartik Mohindra, Pernod Ricard India

How brands are navigating the new normal
  • 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.
  • Kartik Mohindra, Chief Marketing Officer, Pernod Ricard India spoke to us about the brand's communications and marketing strategies during these adverse times and how this experience will perhaps change the way they market themselves in the future.
In early March, Pernod Ricard announced the launch of a new look for its single malt Scotch, the Glenlivet. The aim of the redesign was to open-up the category to a new generation of whisky drinkers. The brand had also said that it plans to up its marketing spends in FY21 by 8-10%.

However, as the country came to a complete standstill after the Coronavirus-induced lockdown, a lot of plans that brands had put together for the year had to be kept aside. However, as businesses slowly open up, it is interesting to understand how these brands faced the challenges these unprecedented times threw at them and their key learnings.

To understand how Pernod Ricard India navigated these adverse times, we recently caught up with Kartik Mohindra, Chief Marketing Officer, Pernod Ricard India. He told us how they communicated with their consumers during the lockdown days and how this experience will perhaps change the way they market themselves in the future.


Q) The pandemic and the lockdown has brough with it a lot of learning. What would you say have been your major learnings from this experience so far?
The Coronavirus outbreak is first and foremost a human tragedy, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. It is having a growing impact on the global economy. Uncertainty continues to impact all businesses.Our capability to make amends within compressed timeframes will be key to getting on-course, and winning at the market place. Whilst the front-end of our business was on pause in the lockdown period, it was also an opportunity for the future owing to the multiple disruption that have got created, paving the way for new ways of working and doing business. As we work remotely,planning and managing time of all stakeholders and a greater sense of discipline and orientation.

The consumer in today’s situation is evolving rapidly, and our ways of doing business are witnessing a radical change. We have been strong proponents of digital transformation, focused on comprehensive connectivity in a restricted industry and we will continue to stay engaged with consumers and industry stakeholders.

Q) What has your marketing strategy been during the lockdown? Did you modify your media mix, with marketing investments getting shifted from one medium to another?
The pandemic dictates the need for re-evaluating our traditional marketing approaches, redefining the ways we reach and engage with our consumers. Our two key pillars of consumer engagement are Traditional Retail and the On-Trade.. The on-trade channel is likely to take longer to start. The present social distancing norms give way to the ‘New Normal’ for consumers and marketers alike.

We understand that consumer discretionary spending is likely to take time to bounce back. Consumers will seek greater value from their purchase. We foresee a deeper engagement at the traditional off trade and rise of the modern trade. As home-tainment gains precedence over social/in-person engagements, our Media Mix will lean towards effective usage of Digital and OTT, along with On-Air media. Online advocacy and mixology will cater to home entertainment.

Q) The kind of communications a brand comes up with during a crisis can either help win consumer trust and endear them to the brand or work completely the other way around. How did you ensure during the last months that you stay connected with your consumers?
The Coronavirus outbreak has affected hundreds of thousands of people, and the current situation in India and across the world needs immediate action, and alongside we need to be prepared for tougher times. Our hearts go out to all those who have been impacted by the current situation. Pernod Ricard India continues to ‘Leave No One Behind’ in our commitment to support our stakeholders and our communities to tackle the pandemic. Pernod Ricard India has pledged Rs 150 Million to support Healthcare efforts in the fight against COVID-19 in India. The Company has been working relentlessly in public-private and private-non-profit partnerships with State health departments, public service authorities and NGOs to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in India. Our manufacturing teams have repurposed our operations to produce over 3 Lakh Liters of Hand Sanitizers, and 4 lakh plus masks, for state health departments. Our top priority in the near and long-term future remains to support all those who have been impacted by the current situation, either directly or indirectly.

Q) Do you think this experience will change the way you market your brand in the future?
The present norms of Social Distancing will certainly change the way brands engage with consumers.

We continue to work on making our brands ‘Future-Ready’. We are aware that consumers are progressively seeking experiences that empower them to make new discoveries within their passions and interests, which translates to online engagement and home-tainment now.

Events and celebrations are likely to be conservative for the next six months. There is a steady rise in the time spent by consumers across social and digital platforms. The rise of traditionally social and external events being streamed onlinewith social interaction is a big thing right now!Instagram and Facebook lives views have doubled since March. Whatsapp, Instagram and Messenger (messaging apps) have witnessed usage increased by 40% among 18 to 34-year-old. (Source; Kantar, Social baker and Tech Crunch studies). We have experienced consumer incidence/usage growing by approximately 20% on OTT, online gaming platforms as more and more consumers gravitate to digital to keep themselves engaged in this period.

Moreover, with social distancing and changes in consumers’ buying behaviors, we can expect e-commerce gaining further traction and penetration. The heterogeneity in consumer preferences will continue to lead changes in demand and willingness to spend; subsequently making the marketing initiatives and methods dauntingly complex.

Q) It's very easy for consumers to look at brand communications during times like this and misinterpret the brand's intention. How have you made sure your brand communication has stayed relevant during this time?
Pernod Ricard, with its unique yet comprehensive portfolio, decisively represents something just beyond Spirits and Volume – something surely more Qualitative and Creative. With brands like Blenders Pride, 100 Pipers, Jameson, Chivas Regal, Royal Salute, our constant endeavor is to offer brands with purpose and values of authenticity, legacy and craftsmanship.We at, Pernod Ricard will always try to keep abreast with the evolving consumer’s attitude, while taking a strategic approach towards social media and digital promotions, specifically to target millennials. We will leverage our strengths in consumer marketing through digital media and continue to align our marketing expertise in this direction and connect our leading brands with the consumers today.

Our future marketing campaigns will be based on the insights we develop through the present change in consumer behavior, to alienate any opportunity of misrepresentation. At the present, we are focusing our resources on various purpose-led communications and Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Our marketing will recommence once it is 'business-as-usual' and with the restoration of consumer sentiment.

The Coronavirus crisis is a story with an unclear ending. Only definitive aspect is that human impact is already tragic, and that all organizations have an imperative to act immediately to protect their employees, consumers, business challenges and risks, and help to mitigate the outbreak in whatever ways we can. Optimism about the return of demand needs to be with a view of the closure of the crisis. Being optimistic about demand recovery would be with a lens on working-capital or liquidity shortages at customers. The near term is essential, but we are committed to the focus on the longer term.

COVID-19IndiaCases: 820kDeaths: 22.1kRecovered: 515k
COVID-19WorldCases: 12.10MDeaths: 551kRecovered: 6.87M
COVID-19USACases: 3.03MDeaths: 131kRecovered: 983k