It’s accepted wisdom that whatever brands do or the messages they give out should always be contextual and relevant to the current situation. During a crisis, the marketing teams of these brands face enormous challenges to create a message that wouldn’t seem revenue-oriented or to be more precise, cold. The owners and advertisers of any brand spend a lot of energy and time brainstorming new ideas with content that are sensitive to the hard times and provide relief to the people.
The COVID-19 crisis may be one of the worst things to happen to human beings and businesses worldwide, in centuries. According to a report by The Shelf, 31% of SMBs have shut down shops in the last few months, and 40% say that they don’t have enough cash inflow to keep operating, and these numbers are increasing. It’s not just the SMEs feeling the heat; even storied startups like Zomato are announcing layoffs, which underlines the harshest of times coming our way.
However, numerous brands also focused on collective positive experiences to assure their customers of their support, empathy, and care while marketing their products/services at the same time. No doubt, they did quite well in maintaining brand visibility even in the lockdown period.
Let’s look at the smart marketing and advertising strategies they used to stay in touch with their loyal audience and capture the attention of new prospects.
Sheela Foam Industries
The leading manufacturer of mattresses in India, the Sheela Foam Industries, which is well-known for its flagship brand, ‘Sleepwell Mattresses’, did quite well during the COVID-19 crisis by adopting smart techniques to maintain its visibility.
CEO Sumit Sehgal explained in an interview with the Business Insider that they managed to ride out the first wave by staying connected with their followers on digital platforms and launching an awareness campaign around the importance of good sleep. They developed original videos in the form of stories to emphasize the need for social distancing, staying at home, and getting a good night’s sleep, thus indirectly marketing the core values of their products. With a digital-first approach, coupled with PR and television, they managed to reach out to their audience quite well through their trending #StaySafeWithSleepwell campaign.
House of Hiranandani
The Mumbai-based real estate company has also been doing unexpectedly well during the trying times. The real estate is hurting, but there are still opportunities out there for the brands that think creatively. The key reason for this brand’s visibility was the digital shift they made. Their marketing and communications transformed itself digitally to stay in touch with their customers seamlessly. They recognized that traditional social media channels were being consumed more and took a stand, tapping into the overarching theme of the safety of being at home.
From adopting new technology to developing sensitive content, they did everything in their power to connect with their customers and spread the message of #BeHomeBeSafe. They also provided regular updates to their customers on the social platforms about the COVID-19 pandemic, along with protective measures to fight the virus.
The online retailer of cosmetics and personal care items undertook a rigorous marketing endeavor to enhance their brand visibility during the pandemic. They kept their delivery services open throughout the lockdown period for essential items like masks, sanitizers, disinfectants, and sanitary napkins, thus adhering to the public’s current needs. On social media, they kept communicating while telling stories of their other products. Their relevant and sensitive content won the hearts of many. Last but not least, they brought beauty bloggers from all over the country together to share video reviews of their products to keep the audience entertained and sustain the top of the mind recall. They understood that online consumer behavior had changed in a subtle, meaningful yet permanent way. The consumer sought information and relevance, not a sales pitch. This is what Nykaa gave.
The music streaming app made some significant changes to their strategy to enhance visibility and improve their popularity amidst the pandemic. As music emerged as a key tool to fight depression and chronic anxiety, they started seeing high demand for pre-curated playlists. Some of those lists like the Music for Yoga, Divine Instrumental, Soulful Acoustics, Chill Out, and Unplugged Melodies, among others, witnessed tremendous growth during the lockdown phase. They used that data to create more meaningful content in similar lines and promote it contextually to the right audiences. Besides, they also personalized marketing campaigns and provided newer and relevant music across the app to keep the users hooked.
For years, Amul, the flagship brand of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), has been on the top of the contextual advertising game, keeping humor as the anchor of all their communications. When Doordarshan started rebroadcasting the epic shows of yesteryears like Ramayana and Mahabharata, the audience was taken down the memory lane. The nostalgia in the consumers compelled them to get on to social channels to express their desire to see the old Amul ads of those times. The brand heard their voice and tapped a rich vein of customer connection that played well with their heritage and brand story. They started running their old ads on TV during these shows and strategically on digital media, thus cementing their place in the hearts of the audience.
These brands have shown how one can make the most of even the worst situations by using smart marketing tactics in a relevant and sensitive manner. By shifting to digital marketing, advertising sensitively, providing necessary help, and a daily dose of motivation to the audience, they managed to capture the hearts of their followers. It’s likely, that when all this is over that loyalty will remain. What these brands did to achieve success in trying times could become a marketing lesson for others!