Consumer healthcare and safety along with consumer interaction will define brand, marketing and business pattern in a post COVID era feels experts at a Webinar #RESETINDIA2020

Debasish Chattopadhyay

Kolkata : The effects of lockdown have disrupted all sectors of business and economy. Liquidity has been hit and cash flows across businesses are being reviewed that have forced companies to renegotiate with their dealers and creditors. Production has been hit that in turn has affected last mile distribution strategy for all brands, leading to companies having to relook their profitability for 20-21.
Production shutdowns, labor and supply chain disruptions – especially for companies exposed to international trade – as well as falling consumption, have raised serious concerns about the short-to-medium term viability of many businesses, specially the MSMEs. To discuss on ways to bounce back and find a way forward, a webinar #RESETINDIA2020 was organized by The Bengal Chamber on 14 May, where industry leaders tried to come up with specific strategies for these disruptive times.
Nazeeb Arif, Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications, ITC Ltd, the session moderator began by highlighting three distinct areas-Survive, Revive and Thrive. According to him the first involves healthcare sector, livelihood and reverse migration.For revival one will look at how wheels of economy would start. In the long run growth would depend on investment spending of the government and stimuli from consumer spending, liquidity that would drive growth. The basic consumer principles haven’t changed, he stated but change in behavior has happened with less spending and more savings. Collaboration and compassion is key factor as there has been collaboration across industries in case of sanitization and delivery and compassion to support one another tide this crisis, he added. Jayen Mehta, Senior General Manager, Planning & Marketing,GCMMF (Amul) expressed that, “Amul being a cooperative owned by 36 lakh farmers were collecting 30 lakh litres of milk everyday from 18500 villages and more than 320 lakh bags of milk were being sold to thousands of consumers across towns and cities. So the challenge of supplying was very crucial. The Corona has disrupted supply chain from cow to consumer. He expressed that there is an opportunity in crisis like these. Communication with all take holders was the key be it with government, farmers or employees, but it had to be done at all levels to take timely and speedy actions, he added. Recalling Dr Kurien , Mehta pointed at the 4 hands of logo-The farmer, the professional, the marketer and the consumer who have to be kept engaged. From COVID lens one has to see how each has adapted , he added.Social distancing in villages is being maintained along with sanitization of canteens and plants. Permits are being sought for delivery and Amul is ensuring all distributors were working throughout the lock down. Ice cream distributors hit by the virus were asked to sell milk and chilled products.Also brand and advertising continued , also new product launch like tulsi doodh and ginger doodh with increased awareness on immunity. Amul mobile parlours also were reaching products to buildings and a centralized software helped maintaining and monitoring the process.In March there was double spending on advertisement where the brand presence was boosted over news, digital news, movies and serials like Ramayana and Mahabharata.To keep the consumer and chefs of restaurant engaged Amul face book page have started streaming 10 facebook lives daily with recipes from chefs that consumers connect with. Speaking on the occasion, Abhijit Roy, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Berger Paints India Limited stated that, “Paints come under non essential services. But post COVID Berger plans to take Silk breathe easy paint, express painting to rural areas and smaller towns. This is an anti pollution, antibacterial virus guard paint.Due to social distancing changes will be seen from single shift to three shift. It has plans to sell sanitizers and also launch a consumer mobile app where each of their 20,000 paint workforce’s individual details may be viewed by consumers . All painters would be provided with the app and all painters for the purpose of hygiene would be provided with safety kits . They would be using germ killing paints to keep the customer’s hygiene safety in place.”
Rohit Ohri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, India & South Asia, FCB Ulka stated “Some consumer behavior will stay while some will vanish with the fear of virus going.Much of consumer behavior is driven by current fear of the virus.
Crisis shifts consumer behavior as most have seen during demonetization where consumer switched to digital transactions which has resulted in India having now the largest number of e-transaction in the world.Post COVID a lot of marginal trends will go mainstream.Brands will pivot around immunity, health care and wellness . Also Post COVID there will be an increased rise of automation and more machine interaction , less human contact, he added.
B B Chatterjee, President , The Bengal Chamber*, stated, “This webinar shows the discipline, the dedication and the determination to find opportunities to grow the economic value. Once the lock down is over individually we all would start refurbishing, replacing, changing old with new. Because, individually we should be all engines of creation of the man and that is something that this country will need. Those of us who can really take a step in this direction will help. Collaboration and compassion is another aspect, which I think will get a little more established after this pandemic and the new mantra for the New Normal is going to be I for delivery for the business houses, and we for survival.”
“Those who fight the crisis will emerge victorious. So if you have reacted you will not let this and the big push you down ,you’re going to be certainly growing. I think people should realize that corporate India is definitely ready and looking into the correct direction for a good tomorrow,” stated Anoop Hoon , Chairperson, Marketing & Brand Committee, The Bengal Chamber.