With the government partially lifting the lockdown with conditional relaxation in selected states, businesses are feeling optimistic. While essential items continue to remain a key priority, the purchase of non-essential items continues to be prohibited. The lockdown has resulted in financial suffering for a majority of fashion brands. Businesses are now hoping that there will be more relaxation in Unlock 1.0 and they can resume some semblance of operations – both offline and online. And both brands and retailers are prepared that things will not be the same ever again – that there is now a new normal.
While businesses are optimistic that active consumption will happen despite concerns for safety and social distancing norms, they are working towards increasing consumer confidence in their brands and also towards adapting to changed consumer behavior, giving the customer what s/he wants.
According to Manish Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer, Pepe Jeans,stringent safety norms will set the foundation of consumer engagement. He says that channel preferences – like e-commerce, which make customers comfortable with convenient, stayat-home shopping – will be more prominent now than ever before.
“In the current scenario, trust is going to play a very important role. The assurance that brands/businesses will offer hygiene
and safety will not only be essential but decisive,” says Kapoor.
“This is the time wherein brands/businesses can actually leverage trust.” He is of the opinion that new and emerging brands/ businesses can poach loyal customers delivering on that trust factor. Consumer psychology and attitude towards the origin of a product will be another crucial factor in bolstering retail. Purchases will be centered on the most basic needs, to shop more consciously and to buy local.
“Consumers will be worried about where the goods/products are being manufactured. This is something which is going to play on their minds. However, they will be more confident of products made closer to them or something which they can trust,” he states.
Revamping Marketing Strategies
Marketing and communication strategies of businesses are not conceived with disruptors like the coronavirus even remotely in mind. But responding to the challenges the pandemic has brought is something that businesses should address. He fears that if serious efforts are not made, the whole foundation of brick-and-mortar stores, which is physical interaction, and which gives it an edge over online retail may fizzle out.
According to Kapoor, marketing is going to get much more focused towards digital and will be socially oriented. “From a short-term perspective, rather than talking about products, we have to talk more on safety and sanitation. At the moment, the Indian consumer is worried even at the thought of going out. We need to highlight and share how secure and guarded our stores are. We are spending a lot of time and energy in doing this,” he says.
“These are areas which we really have to work on. Very clearly, marketing is getting much more ROI driven and much more digital,” highlighted Kapoor.