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Marketing In The World Remade By Covid-19

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As part of our new series, ‘Marketers Playbook for 2020 Post Covid-19′, Ashvin Vellody, Partner, Deloitte India & Ankush Garg, Director, Deloitte India highlight the trends that can help marketers take appropriate actions in their context based on the maturity of their marketing function.

Covid-19 has caused massive disruption in both demand and supply side of the market. Every facet of business – be it strategy, finance, HR, IT or marketing – has been impacted. The unfolding of Covid-19 has brought uncertainty to most of the businesses around the globe. Many organizations have altered their operating models to fit the changing circumstances, while others have adapted their services to help the greater cause. Should the marketing function take a conservative stance and hunker down and live to fight another day or should the Chief Marketing Officer take the challenge head-on, and make use of the opportunity it presents to reimagine the business?

A Deloitte led survey of the US CMOs1 reveals that marketing’s role related to revenue growth, customer experience and innovation is on the rise. We see parallels of this phenomena in the India market as well. The following observations can help marketers take appropriate actions in their context based on the maturity of their marketing function.

  • It’s All About Getting To The Customer; B2B and B2C models are merging: The lines between B2B and B2C appear to have blurred and there is no B2B or B2C any more – there is B2E (business to everyone). Establishing a direct to consumer channel has become one of the priority areas for brands. The key now is likely to be to provide brand experiences consistently across all touch-points – one that is humane, uniform and engaging.
  • Digital Transformation Is Now A Must Have From A Nice To Have: The assumptions which businesses are built on have been transformed overnight. The perceived segments of customers might not exist anymore and there are new segments to be uncovered! To reach out to the most viable segments, marketing strategies would need to become digital-led, data-driven and re-imagined for a no-touch experience.
  • The Hard Metrics Are Expected To Matter Even More For Marketers: Given the pressure on marketing performance, marketers have indicated that when it comes to evaluating marketing performance, year-over-year (YOY) growth is the most important KPI across all sectors, levels of revenue and levels of internet sales, followed by Return on Investment (ROI). Traditional metrics, such as share, sales or profits are used at much higher rates in addition to  the forward-looking metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
  • A Mobile First Marketing Strategy Is Likely To Do Well: Brands have to be cognizant that with 500 million smartphone users in India, any marketing must start on mobile. Mobile marketing is fundamentally different when compared with traditional marketing and the engagement, conversion and success metrics are not the same as that for the web. Even the platforms used for engagement, notifications (sms, web and push) are uniquely designed to meet the mobile form factor and user behaviour on the device.
  • Pragmatic And Agile Marketing: The quick thinking and pivoting of brands across the industry is a real-life case study in what’s known as “agile marketing”. Today’s connected consumers have more influence than ever in driving the conversation around brands. Companies sometimes only have hours to respond if they want to remain relevant. Agile marketing often thrives on pragmatism and flexibility, and marketers who excel at it have sophisticated martech tools to put brands in the middle of conversations.

 Three Takeaways

Companies should spend on marketing during good times. In bad times, they must spend on marketing. There is a need for marketing to be perceived as a revenue driver and not as a cost center. This is critical for all CXO level executives to understand.  Marketing budgets are usually the first to be cut when times are tough – and when the situation improves, the sales often don’t recover! Why?  In most cases, the absence of marketing dries up the brand recall and pipeline.  Focus on marketing activities should be preserved during these exceptional times.

Now is the time to integrate product/service innovation, technology and customer experience. Marketing can be the glue that brings together these three dimensions to drive sales higher.

Martech is essential. But how do I choose what’s the best fit? With over 8,000 martech companies in 20202, it is clear that marketers in the post Covid-19 era are likely to have a rethink about what technologies they really need, which ones can help them optimise costs, and which ones can help them transform their businesses that have been altered by this crisis. The best technology choices will often come with a deep understanding of the business impact of the technology together with the possibilities that the technology will open up for the brand.

Covid-19 has forced many traditional offline players into the online space, creating a new status quo that is expected to linger for at least several months, and probably forever, in the collective consumer consciousness. As the lockdowns are slowly lifted (in India and globally), and as organizations transition from ‘Respond’ phase to ‘Recover’ and eventually into ‘Thrive’ phase – marketing teams need to look towards establishing trust as key business value.



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Ashvin Vellody & Ankush Garg

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