Wednesday, 10 August, 2022
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Covid is making brands opt for skyrise marketing to reach the ‘low-lying’ consumer

‘Skyrise markets’ today represent a huge opportunity for brands, large retailers and e-commerce platforms due to natural grouping of similar customer profiles.

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Necessity is the mother of invention, they say, and adversity the best teacher. Amid all the gloom and pain due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, some great new thinking and fresh ideas have surfaced in the domain of brands and services.

The past three months have seen a lot of disruption in India, both for consumers as well as sellers: gated customers, shuttered shops and malls, fractured supply lines, factories at half-steam, raw material shortages, and more. However, despite all the challenges, many smart brands have found ways to innovate and prosper. While some have become ingenuous, most have deployed newer technologies. Widespread availability of broadband internet and the ubiquity of smartphones have, of course been the enablers. These are some of the new kinds of marketing techniques that have taken off in India now.

Also read: Radio Mirchi eyes US, Middle East markets as Covid stalls growth in India

Skyrise marketing

Skyrise marketing is the pandemic-driven response by brands to capture business in ‘vertical cities’ or high-rise societies in metros and mini-metros. Cohesive ‘Skyrise Markets’ are embedded within urban cities and have their own gated communities, with facilities and services necessary for hi-quality living demanded by their members. Work from home has ensured that most homes are doubling-up as extended office spaces.

Near-zero mobility and home isolation have led to the emergence of ‘group buying’ or ‘collective buying’ behaviour—aggregating individual consumer orders and placing one large order for the group—in ‘Skyrise Markets’. Each ‘Skyrise Market’ has anywhere between 200 to 2,000 families. These societies are markets with high population density, have large number of consumers with similar lifestyle preferences, and most often hold a cosmopolitan outlook.

‘Skyrise Markets’ are networked through society management apps, like Adda and MyGate, which provide convenience of bill payments, service requests and act as communication and broadcast platforms to discuss rules within the society. These skyrises have now come together for aggregated group buying through bulk orders. “Skyrise Markets” are a huge opportunity for brands, large retailers and e-commerce platforms due to natural grouping of similar customer profiles, information sharing for group transactions and frequent group purchases. 

Gainers: D’Mart, Grofers, Big Basket, iD Foods, Zorabian, Love and Cheesecake, Licious, among others.

Also read: Tulsi drops, amla & flaxseeds to Chyawanprash, immunity boosters are flavour of the season

Active symbols marketing

What are active symbols? These are action-oriented symbols such as QR code or bar-code that make transactions seamless. Developed in Japan in the mid-90s, a QR, or the Quick Response code can store up to 4,296 alphanumeric characters. Touch-free transactions have given a big fillip to the use of QR codes in marketing during the pandemic.

QR codes allow for personalisation of the consumer experience, and have been used in recent weeks by brands, both to surprise and delight users. Thanks to smart technology, manufacturers have taken the consumer experience to a new level, leveraging packaging as a full-scale data carrier and digital tool. Price-offs, up-sell offers, cross-sell discounts, cash-backs have all been activated as consumers stay home, and transact electronically.

Tetra Pak recently introduced QR codes on CavinKare’s milk shake cartons. Each batch of the shakes would have a different QR code on the pack that would have surprise offers for consumers. Thus, packaging has become the new carrier for dynamic consumer benefits and offers which can be cashed by the user in the convenience of his own home.

Gainers: Banks, credit card companies, payment apps, e-commerce platforms and FMCG brands.

Also read: Cannot monopolise words like ‘magic’, ‘masala’ — Madras HC ends Nestle-ITC noodles feud

Six-feet marketing

Social distancing has created a new ‘six-feet economy’. With restaurants closed, and many customers afraid of possible infection, takeaways are becoming popular. You pick your food order rather than getting it delivered home. No intermediaries between the kitchen and customer: digital selection followed by digital payment, and everyone stays at least six feet away.

Zoom conferences, webinars, e-learning, remote teaching, digital banking, e-shopping, OTTs — they all enable physical distancing.

Gainers: Zoom, Microsoft Meetings, Google Hangouts, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google Classroom, Kahoot!, Udemy and more.

Also read: PepsiCo’s Aunt Jemima pancake brand to get a new name, lose logo of Black woman

Voice-activated marketing

 ‘No touch’ has accelerated the use of ‘voice technologies’. Already, India had over 250 million users of Google Assistant. The pandemic has only possibly increased this number.

Australia-based Voice agency Versa has created a voice-driven customer engagement-and-experience product for Johnson & Johnson that sings lullabies and tells bed-time stories to toddlers. In fact, in its home country, Versa has enabled all immigration, traveler verification, hotel check-in and check-out all on voice, without any need to touch a screen. It is even enabling Coke vending machines to operate on voice commands.

There is lots more happening in ‘voice technologies’. Banks are getting into voice verification and customer authentication, and IoT (internet of things) is kicking in quicker for touchless actions so that you can unlock your car, switch on the air-conditioning, open doors, programme appliances, buy groceries—all through voice commands.

Gainers: Hotels, FMCG, Auto, office automation, IT, Smart-utility brands.

Also read: Indian brands can’t wake up after lockdown. Decoding hoarders, lamenters, indulgers will help

Minimonies marketing

This is a typical frugal Indian innovation. ‘Minimonies’ encourages ‘miniature ceremonies’. #MuhuratAtHome is the ‘new normal’ for weddings. With restrictions on the number of wedding guests, and most hotels, marriage venues and caterers shut, couples have preferred to keep things simple with small, intimate gatherings at home.

Kalyan Jewellers have in fact been running a big advertising campaign on this theme of ‘home weddings’. Brands like Titan, Tanishq too are likely to follow.

The pandemic is far from over and social distancing is the new normal. As India Unlocks and we learn to live with the virus, innovation from brands to activate and energise consumers is likely to continue.

The author is former President of Rediffusion; ex-Group CEO of Zee Telefilms; and Founder Chairman of Dentsu India. He currently chairs the India Advisory Board of Snapchat in India. Views are personal.

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