As the industry gears up to resume business post the lockdown, Sanjeev Mohanty, Managing Director – South Asia, Middle East & North Africa, Levi’s Strauss & Co., outlined the two aspects that underpin the way demand will be regenerated – unpredictable and the tangible. “You have no control over external aspects which are unpredictable – the ways that the government is going to stipulate laws, which markets they are going to open up, how they differentiate essentials from non-essentials, what if top markets become red zones, etc.,” he said.
He explained that what brands can work on is the corporeal side of it – unique and relevant offerings, evolution of their channel mixes and most importantly the brand’s relation with their consumers.
Drawing on his brand’s market in China that re-opened early April, Mohanty debunked myths about the need of deep discounting to clear inventory post the containment. “In the first few weeks, consumers in China were looking for exciting offerings – something unique from the brand. We had a Super Mario Bros. and Levi’s collaboration launch that sold out instantly in our team malls and stores. So was our New Balance and Levi’s collaboration, that sold out within minutes,” he added.
It is highly imperative for brands to be creative and generate demand through an assortment mix and bank on intelligent ways of consumer engagement in digital and social media platforms. “These are a few aspects that will play a major role in shaping consumer demand post the crisis. Your relationship with your consumer over the years will play a big role. Brand loyalty will come to play, and a lot of consumers will gravitate towards brand that they trust,” he stated.
Fashion players that have created leadership in their category and have enjoyed a close relationship with their consumers will have faster comeback than brand that have jumped on to create consumer engagement only during the lockdown.
Especially India, where festivals and occasions are a crucial stimulant for fashion consumption, the fashion retail industry will have to create events to ramp up demand. “India loves social occasions. If weddings, festivals, events or film launches have to be deferred for long, it will have a fly wheel effect on consumption. Brands and retailers will have to come up with inventive ways and create micro-occasions within social distancing norms to make themselves relevant,” he explained.
Last but not the least, Mohanty singled out consumer safety as the need of the hour post the crisis and urged brands to start preparing their action plan for it without further ado.