No part of the business is unaffected by the pandemic. Every business is witnessing a transformation unseen in decades. Brands across segments now need to invent new ways to engage their customers and business partners.
On the consumer side, marketers must deal with disorganized markets affected by lockdowns and social distancing norms which resulted in increased traction for online shopping.
According to a Global Web Index poll, nearly half of respondents indicated they won't go to stores for a while or for a long time. This has given rise to new marketing trends that can be adapted post-pandemic.
Dynamic Product Portfolio
Pandemic and the ensuing new social norms have resulted in a significant drop in travel and people were mostly confined to their homes, which has changed the consumer preferences.
In the footwear industry, we could see a drop in demand for formals and those meant for outdoor use, instead, there was a surge in demand for casual footwear for indoor use. For the brands like Walkaroo, this meant a new product portfolio. Thus, we brought in more of simple, easy to use casual footwear into our portfolio.
Many brands across the segments might have experienced similar requirements and the need to quickly adapt to the same in their offerings, requiring them to be more dynamic.
In this digitally connected world which is undergoing a constant change, the consumer is now getting introduced to trends across markets. A trend from any part of the world can quickly travel to India and change consumer preferences.
It is no more ‘one product to run for ages’, now the life cycle has shortened and a wider portfolio is required to meet customer expectations especially for the fashion industry. This requires continuous churn in the portfolio of offerings, which in turn makes supply planning and demand planning more cumbersome. Hence, a demand-driven approach and agile manufacturing is the need of the hour to meet customer demand and to manage the cost of obsolesce.
Digital Is the Way Ahead
A brand like Walkaroo generates a larger share of business through general trade, still, the importance of e-commerce and digital marketing is on a continuous rise. Now, when a need for recognition arises with a consumer, then information search and evaluation happens on digital/ e-commerce platforms. Hence it is necessary to be present in e-commerce platforms, have your own website with e-commerce to reach out to all potential customers across all channels, be it general trade or modern trade.
As digital platforms race ahead, the physical store needs to become customer experience centres, which helps a customer to decide on the product. Customers should have the option of carrying out an information search and do the comparison online and purchasing the product in a nearby store. Alternatively, they can try out the products at a nearby store and purchase them online. As a marketer, brands need to invest in both digital and physical stores.
Communicating with Target Group
For a marketer, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital marketing over print and TV media. Allocation of budgets towards social media marketing, developing content for social media, influencer marketing, and search engine optimization has increased significantly.
Since digital platforms can also act as two-way communication with the target group, it has become more important to understand the interest of the target group and design the content and activities to engage with them effectively. OTT platforms have also started growing faster with the introduction of more original content than TV during the pandemic.
Brands that had previously not invested significantly in digital, now need to re-think their strategy and start investing in social media, content marketing, influencer marketing.
Keeping the Trade Partners Engaged
While everyone talks about keeping customers engaged, many marketers lose focus on keeping their trade partners engaged. Previously there were dealer meets, promotional events all of which acted as platforms to engage with channel partners. Today there are no such options.
So as marketers we have moved all these engagements to online platforms, albeit with lesser fervour. Even product launches and product shows with channel partners are held virtually. This has helped us to continue the engagement with our partners at the same level as earlier.
Catalogues also have become digital wherein all product images catalogues are made available through WhatsApp business platforms. On a need basis, anyone can pull the details as and when required. This has helped us reach a wider set of channel partners in a cost-effective way, with the latest updates on product information.
These digital launches and digital engagements with the channel partners are here to stay.
Digitalization has touched business in every aspect of the business. Now from order taking, allocation, billing, dispatch, collection, demand and supply planning, customer feedback, all have seen the deployment of various software solutions capable of talking to each other and with core ERP solutions. This has helped to streamline the end to end business processes and made them more efficient and scalable.
For a marketer, digitalization through e-commerce platforms has helped to connect with a large customer base and use their reviews on a real-time basis to gauge the market feedback. Previously technologies that were considered as luxury have now become necessities.
At Walkaroo, on the sales front, we have developed customized software solutions over and above regular platforms like SAP, Salesforce, Uni-commerce etc.
In the post-pandemic economy, brands must be agile, innovative, and ready to leverage technology in a constantly evolving marketing landscape to stay ahead in the race.