Brands and Businesses: What the future holds?
It is a no brainer to know that the world on the other side of the COVID 19 pandemic, would be very different from the current one where individuals and businesses will need to adapt to new ways of working.
The entire vocabulary has shifted focus to only two things, “Essential “ and “Non Essential”.
While trying to cope up with the changing reality, the lingering question for every business is “How to stay relevant in the New Normal”?
Here are some possibilities in the post pandemic scenario
- Lets face it. The pandemic has impacted not just you but everyone around. You and your competition, both are being impacted reasonably hard if not equal
- Marketing spends might be the biggest casualty of the scenario with sharp cuts in budgets
- Financial spends will be held more closer to the chest
- The customers will come back with elevated/higher expectations and would demand a higher return for every dollar spent
- Brand loyalty will be shaky because “Need” has overtaken the “Desire” and they will need very compelling reasons to remain loyal to brands
- Brands and Businesses in turn will rush to package new ideas/ products/ offerings/ services to reach out to their customers
- Knee jerk reactions will be taken to win the race of being innovative and agile. Concepts like work from home is one such concept which however will need to stand the test of time
- With team proximity foregone, it might pose challenges for managerial and leadership roles to perform efficiently
- Surge in demand for hardware and software for facilitating remote working
- Businesses which lean heavily on customer site visits to sell their offerings will have a challenge both in terms of logistics and expense
- Regaining the trust of customers will be most essential
Re-establish Brand Loyalty
The loyalty of the customer does not confine to the quality of products/services alone. There is a constant eye to judge the brand behavior especially in testing times like these this becomes a more potent factor for the customer. Historically, brands and businesses have made their way to customer loyalty not merely by their business offerings but “how were/are the offerings delivered to the customer”. With the market overcrowded with similar offerings, businesses will need to put strategically designed communications to their customers not just about the product but by putting forth the organization integral values, service distinguishers and emotional connect. During the difficult times, the customers would like to see how the brands rise up and put their best foot forward. Carefully designed communication highlighting the overall character and values of the brand will contribute immensely towards re-establishing the brand loyalty. Point in case would be the recent advt on Surf Excel promoting the fact “Neki nahi rukegi”. Messaging is subtle and product comes very aptly towards the end.
In the post pandemic scenario, this approach will hold relevance and the exercise of re-establishing the brand along with innovative reach out strategies will help businesses emerge stronger.
Crisis or Opportunity?
Amidst the worry some scenarios of plunging economy and grim business scenarios, interesting opportunities have emerged and smart strategies are at play. Doordarshan, a traditional channel was amongst the first to jump on the opportunity and started reruns of the mythological shows two times a day. The result was historic and world record viewership and in-turn multifold increase in advertising revenue in the lockdown period. Brands like Amul have been able to reconnect an entire generation by running advertisements of the 90’s. The forced mindset shift to adopt going online for local merchants is a welcome change and is getting bumper sales revenues. The digital adoption by businesses has created a huge market potential of cybersecurity offerings. Remote working is another old concept which is finding acceptance by businesses. As a result, cyber security products portfolio business will obviously have a surge in demand. A forced lockdown is feeding into shifts in strategy and approach for businesses. As a result new opportunities for business have emerged and these businesses and brands are all jumping on the opportunities to re-establish themselves much stronger than before even during the pandemic.
Work from Home, Remote Working- Security and Productivity?
Work from Home is not a new concept but the acceptability has gone higher, thanks to the current scenario. The pandemic forced the concept into implementation and looking at the results, most businesses are seriously giving it a thought to continue the concept even post the pandemic.
The WFH concept has a lot of positives like providing the employees the much needed flexibility to work at the comfort of their homes, eliminated on un-necessary meetings and long tea, coffee and sutta breaks. Additionally the lockdown restricted the movement of employees outside their homes. The result was improved focus and hence productivity performance is showing an upsurge and businesses are smiling. Sometimes bold ideas need to be executed to be able to accept or dismiss. The current pandemic just endorsed the same principle and businesses are happy. Major IT companies have either adopted or announced to continue WFH concept even post the pandemic. This is a huge change.
However, businesses will need careful implementation of measures to ensure the downsides of remote working takeover the advantages. Cyber / data security is a major concern especially when the employees are working remotely. Passwords can be hacked hence mechanisms like smart biometric keys can be adopted to ensure both authenticity and data security. End to end encryption products will have much higher demands than before. Secure messaging apps with packet encryptions, vapor messaging could see many takers especially the banking and research laboratories.
However all these reactions to the pandemic will need to stand the test of time and most might subside when subjected to the real working scenario challenges. For instance once the lockdown eases, it remains to be seen whether WFH retains the same productivity numbers. The challenges associated with facilitating WFH or implementing new security mechanisms are still unknown and businesses will need to respond to those challenges as they occur.
New phase of Leadership
A business is judged by the product /offering it delivers to its customers. A product is an outcome of serious planning and execution of tasks within a workplace.
Traditionally, majority of managers and team leaders are accustomed to planning and execution with the team available in proximity. However with the loss of proximity with team members, managers and team leaders will need to devise new mechanisms to plan, allocate and execute the day to day tasks. In the pre pandemic scenario, the advantage to calling a team briefing at a short notice and changing/modifying the course of tasks any time was a routine.
In the post pandemic world all such methods will be instantly outdated. While the nature of the work for many will not change but the process of planning and allocation will mandate a major change . The traditional work planning and allocation toolkits may need very careful identification of work packets to be allocated to the teams.
The new reality will require extremely agile and flexible mindsets which bring out the real managerial/leadership qualities efficiently and those who would find it difficult to adjust to the new reality may be completely dusted.
No longer would a managerial role involve checking emails in the morning and evening only but the new reality will see growth of new leaders who will get into the trenches of the tasks and the work breakdown structure, communicate clearly and lead from the front. Mechanisms to monitor the tasks remotely and ensure timely delivery will need careful selection of smart technology toolkits.
Businesses would need to be ready with mentoring/training programs to alert their leadership to prepare and be ready for this major transition post pandemic. Those would be able to put these mechanisms in place quickly and will not only sustain the post pandemic world but will also emerge as market leaders.
Smart Marketing approach- Toolkits for business promotion
Certain industries which lean on customer visits to their premises as an important criteria to pitch their businesses will need to think out of the box so that the business continues to grow in the post lockdown. One of the approaches for businesses could be integration of technology as a facilitator. Smart marketing toolkits will need to be created which will assist the marketing and sales team to pitch their offerings to the customers. If the customer cannot come to your premises, can the premises be taken to the customer. One of the leading auto component manufacturers adopted Virtual Reality as a tool to develop smart marketing toolkits using which they can showcase their expertise and facilities to the customer without having the customer visit their premises. This smart marketing toolkit not just saves the logistics cost but also puts the company ahead of its competition as an innovative thinker.
The real estate industry could be another beneficiary who may consider such smart marketing toolkits to elevate their sales numbers especially during the current scenario.
An IT Major recently invested in such smart tech innovations as a part of reach out strategy to their clientele and already reaping the benefits of engaging their customers.
Traditional operating mechanisms will be challenged for necessity and relevance, especially in the scenario when new contracts being signed , meetings being conducted online, smart collaboration technology leveraged by businesses and all this without having the need to travel.
Don’t sell a product, sell an experience
Customer Experience Spaces may gain more prominence in the post pandemic scenario because as companies rush to reach their customers , connecting them emotionally with the brand will gain prominence over selling the actual products / services.
Brands and businesses may consider investing into such futuristic spaces which will allow the customer to walk through the product / service offerings. Every zone within the space can be designed to trigger discussion with the client. With the right selection of immersive technologies, this functionality is possible without having the customer actually visit the premises.
In the post pandemic scenario, taking services to the customer will be imperative for every business and this would create acceptance and integration of Immersive Digital interventions which facilitate the requirements.
About the author:
AVP – Business Development
An Engineer by education and professionally working in multidisciplinary domains ranging from Telecommunications, to Information Technology to Designing of futuristic experiential zones, Vickramh is a technology adaptation facilitator for corporates and Government institutes.
His role involves helping customers design the best storytelling experiences with the optimum use of latest technologies. His role in working in the experiential domain also involves extensively working with fully integrated advertising services from Brand Positioning, Identity Design, Digital Marketing and Website development services.