Article by Anindita Gupta, Co-founder – Scenic Communication
Over the past few months, online retail has witnessed tremendous growth, thanks to COVID, and the resultant lockdown, that forced people to opt for remote/ virtual shopping and contactless deliveries overcrowded traditional retail outlets. As per an Impact report released by Unicommerce, India’s leading eCommerce focused SaaS platform, titled ‘E-commerce Trends Report 2020’, e-commerce has witnessed an order-volume growth of 17% as of June 2020, and about 65% growth in single-brand e-commerce platforms. From groceries, fashion and other essentials to emerging categories like health consultations, booking cleaning and grooming services and fintech have witnessed massive growth. Now, with the cautious unlocking process, people continue to rely heavily on e-commerce for festive shopping, as the COVID threat looms. In response to this. Leading multi-brand e-marketplaces have already launched sale-days to boost consumer traffic and encourage the festive rush, well in advance.
While discounts and schemes can help pull loyal consumers, the overall brand marketing strategy for e-commerce platforms have also undergone a massive change. Outdoor and events/ BTL has taken a backseat, thanks to the CVOID threat, while engagement on digital platforms have increased. While these are changes that have taken place as responsive trends to the current situation, it is time that brands start investing in the long term and strategic integrated communication campaign to leverage not just this festive period but also create long term impact to build strong brand visibility and counter competition. Here are a few aspects that brands need to facilitate to get the best out of the festive rush.
- Digital Engagements: Even as digital media marketing is taking center stage, thanks to the drop in traditional media outreach, a lot of brands are investing heavily on online advertisements. However, a holistic campaign that can cover social media presence, collaboration with key influencers and engagement with key stakeholders through relevant brand messaging, are vital to ensure an impactful brand presence. Additionally, brand collaborations that support community/ environment or other philanthropic causes, via digital/social media partnerships, are all the rage right now among millennial and new-age shoppers who seek to buy from brands that follow ethical business practices.
- Campaigns for promoting app downloads: While apps for e-commerce have been around for a while, consumer sentiments have not been very encouraging towards them. Apps help brands to offer consumers a secure and dedicated shopping ecosystem that can benefit brands as it cuts out completion while consumers enjoy a comfortable, smooth and quick shopping experience. Communication campaigns that are focused towards a ‘call to action’, followed by a reward in the form of discounts for app downloads, can help get maximum consumers to shop via apps, thereby increasing the number of loyal consumers and cutting out competition.
- Educating consumers: While e-commerce has registered tremendous growth, including several first-time shoppers, the complete potential of the offerings may still remain unclear. An integrated brand campaign that can highlight the end to end marketplace offerings of brands, using video advertisements on social media etc., could be vital to encourage first-time shoppers to expand and explore new product categories in a multi-brand marketplace. Apart from brand offerings, fine print details, which often hinder some consumers when shopping online, need to be focused upon. For example, there is a segment of the population who are still sceptical when buying clothes online as they are unsure about the size/ fit etc. and presume that the return policy would be a hassle. An awareness campaign that focuses on this, could help not only expand consumer traffic to other verticals but also help create a unique brand proposition.
- Creating a responsible brand image: Over the past months, consumers have become extremely aware of analyzing a brand’s philosophy/ character before making a purchase. The rise of ethical businesses and responsible brands is applicable to e-commerce market place as well. Creating a responsible brand image, especially during the crisis, is significant for the brands to ease through unprecedented times. From highlighting a brands focus on promoting local artisans and small businesses, ditching plastic packaging, to employing people from the differently-abled or needy background, a brands commitment to society needs to be highlighted. PR campaigns and video marketing that can throw light on this, can make a huge difference in brand acceptability and help create a distinct positioning.
- Effective Thought leadership: In under such highly competitive scenarios, creating a brand image, a unique positioning and a clear and relevant consumer engagement campaign may help drive sales and build loyalty. But for long term growth and ensuring a leadership position, an effective category led conversations to need to be initiated. From thought speakership opportunities at industry and trade forums to white papers and industry round tables, highlighting the brand spokesperson as an expert, a communication specialist can help drive a thought leadership positioning for brands. These can then be effectively leveraged in the B2B as well as B2C segments, as consumers would be able to relate to the face, the philosophy and the value that the brand brings to the country.
Given the kind of situation, the festive campaigns need to be well balanced, impactful and strategic due to the change in consumption patterns. During this time, brands need to be seen as more conscious, value-driven, ethical and responsible in terms of their communication with customers. And this is something a well-drafted communication campaign can help deliver.