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Racing On Unknown Track With Covid-19 Chicane

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As part of our new series, ‘Marketers Playbook for 2020 Post Covid-19′, Meghashyam Dighole, Head of Marketing- Premium Motorcycles, TVS Motor Company says that in the current crisis, it is imperative to keep an eye on every curve and respond with agility to ensure a ‘winning race’

As the unknown pandemic struck the world early this year, brands had to race on absolutely unknown track with Covid-19 chicane (not intentional – unlike the one on race track). We are all currently going through an unprecedented crisis, the likes of which we have never seen before. In these unprecedented times, the challenges in marketing, sales and service are going to be unseen, difficult and unpredictable to say the least. This race will need teams to put in all their experience, intuition and ingenuity to ride through this pandemic. There are very few rules to go by. No playbooks to refer to. Therefore, it is imperative to keep an eye on every curve, other bikes, road conditions, and respond to it with agility so as to ensure a ‘winning race’.

No one really knows how many people will be infected or how long this uncertainty will last, but it has unequivocally propelled businesses to rethink their outlook and strategy.  We have already started to see a change in various business models.  But the one immediate and significant change that needs to be made is to the delivery of product and services. While the above-mentioned parameters are of paramount importance in these fast-changing scenarios, there are other important strategies that are required to be adopted for restoring the faith, empathy and trust amongst customers in the near future.  In fact, I believe that Covid-19 has done something which no amount of advertising by brands could do; it has made consumers change their preferences.

Need To Connect

The lockdown was sudden, without anyone foreseeing the extent to which it will stretch. With frustration growing amongst people, there is a high possibility of isolation fatigue to set in. It is usually said, that nature never closes all the doors of exit from any crisis it creates and it is up to the people confronting the crisis to discover the path to the exit.  Therefore, it is not surprising to see a major shift in the media consumption pattern across consumers.

There is an estimated upswing of about 25% in time spent on digital activities in our target group on their smartphones. We decided to take the engagement with our customers to the next level. We came up with unique initiatives to reach out to our community and to enrich the experience of motorcycling in all its forms – Racing, Stunt Riding, and Touring. We specifically created an exclusive TVS Racing Masterclass Series for our customers on TVS Apache’s Instagram page, to engage and interact with experts from our racing, R&D and marketing teams. Through these interactive sessions, the experts were able to impart exciting and informative stories, knowledges, safe practices and insights.

We continue to connect with our customers through regular contest and knowledge sharing sessions. We are also actively encouraging them to showcase their love for the TVS brand through user generated content.

TVS Apache has always focused on building long term associations with our customers through class leading experience programs in the form of Apache Owners Group (AOG) – an exclusive community of TVS Apache owners with rides being conducted in more than 35 cities, Apache Pro Performance (APP) and Apache Racing Experience (ARE). Amidst this challenging situation, we will evolve and continue our engagement with the customers.

Meeting Consumer Challenges

Uncertainty and fear is all around us, never more so than today. The current lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected consumer sentiments.  It is affecting their behaviour, rationalising the wants and curbing their aspirations. We are keeping continuous tab on monitoring the situation and coming up with solutions at every possible touch point. Be it new processes to purchase a product or taking care of their existing product, we will be with the customers to support them in every possible way. We are monitoring our network and retail channels to ensure adequate support in terms of service and product offerings.

With fear of using public transport, there is a high possibility for consumers to shift to personal mobility solutions. At the same time this fear may prevent the consumers to walk-in to showrooms. We are offering newer experience by adapting our digital assets to ease product selection and purchase. For example, we are offering product information in innovative digitised forms such as “Augmented Reality” experience for our discerning customers. Consumer behaviour is rapidly evolving as the world adjusts to a new normal, where social distancing, work from home and virtual meetings are the norm.  One thing is clear, we will witness mass digitalisation of human relations with the crisis, and that will have an inevitable impact on the way we approach marketing. The future will be much more digital than the past.

Final Lap

We are focusing on a digital-first strategy for every possible engagement with the customer. We are optimising our strategy to meet the needs of customers based on the product segment, key buying factors, financial reach / behaviours and geographies. Customised finance options are also being made available to meet customer expectations, keeping in mind the risk associated both ways. Enabling smooth approval process including verification of documents is now being driven digitally as well.

For the marketing fraternity, it’s time to test our innovative minds, exhibit agility and remain close to our customers.  So far, India has shown huge resilience and maturity to ride over this tide.  We don’t know what the future would look like, but one thing is for sure, it ain’t going to be the same.

About the author / 

Meghashyam Dighole

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