Advertisers urged to push digital transformation ahead: Publicis India

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on April 16, 2020 Published on April 16, 2020

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Regional publications have also seen a surge in online demand, clocking as much as 50 per cent, says report

As uncertainty becomes the norm for brands and businesses across sectors and geographies, advertisers have, now, been urged to push their digital transformation needs forward at a faster-pace. This is aimed to help them escape long-term financial risks.

A report by advertising and media major, Publicis Groupe India, has, detailed the consumption patterns, media usage, purchase behaviour and overall marketing and brand trends in India, in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

The report marks profound shifts in the wake of the lockdown, and states that many of these behavioural changes are not transient in nature, but are likely to stay long-term. Registering a change in consumption patterns, the report highlights digital channels and OTT platforms are keeping consumers informed and entertained as they stay indoors.

Online news has become the de facto source of information, with digital editions of mainline publications recording a huge spike. According to ComScore data, the week of March 16-22 has seen a 61 per cent increase in visits to websites and mobile apps as compared to a month ago.

Regional publications have also seen a surge in online demand, clocking as much as 50 per cent, significantly higher than that of English publications, adds the report.

Asking publishers to shift their focus on to digital operations, the report states government notifications and health-related news in connection with the outbreak were the most consumed content categories.

Social media too has became more relevant, with people turning to Twitter for news and influencers using social platforms to spread awareness messages.

Though fake news continues to be a substantial concern, the report asks brands to convey useful product and service information while mining customer feedback for future off erings. As consumers seek to learn more about the ongoing crisis, search has also turned out to be another major area of growth. The report has asked brands to increase their investment in this channel and provide content based on search trends. Creativity will continue to be key though, in order to retain brand value.

Anupriya Acharya, CEO, Publicis Groupe, South Asia says, "The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that uncertainty has become the norm for brands and businesses across sectors and geographies. Publicis Groupe's insights trace the evident change in consumer behaviour, resilience and solidarity among brands in these times, conceivable future implications and the reboot in brand response."

While the report, primarily, focuses on the Indian market, the study also draws on comparisons with other countries across US, Europe and APAC and predicts some of the outcomes ahead for brands.

Given its recovery, China provides valuable learnings for the shift in consumer purchasing further to the outbreak. Highlighting lessons from China, the report notes eating out and travel are starting to gain steam once again in China as the country’s economy recovers.

The stock markets too have rallied in China as the Covid-19 crisis subsides, with the report noting the trend is likely to apply to other markets as well. The study shows Indian consumers are single-mindedly focusing on essential products during this time, sidestepping discretionary purchases such as apparel, electronics and watches. Immunity-boosting products such as honey and Chyawanptrash have seen huge surge in demand, alongside medicines, face masks and hand sanitizers.

While restaurants and food delivery apps have started offering contactless delivery, the report states demand continues to be muted given hygiene-related concerns.

Digital entertainment

Television ratings, that has been on the decline over the past year, has now experienced an exponential jump because of the news related to the coronavirus. The report states the trend is in-line with other Asian markets such as China and Korea.

Registering an 8 per cent spike in weekly TV viewing from 887 billion minutes pre-Covid-19 to 959 billion minutes during the pandemic, the report states religious programming and children’s programmes on TV have also seen the highest spikes in viewership. OTT consumption has also increased.

Video analytics firm Vidooly has reported a 20 per cent jump in video consumption on OTT platforms in the fortnight leading up to March 21. At 82.4 minutes, daily OTT usage has increased by 34 per cent. In the audio space, commercial music streaming service Gaana, has seen 15 per cent increase in average session time.

Noting that the shift to digital entertainment continues to gain momentum, and advertising dollars will soon follow eyeballs, the report states news, movies, kids programming and religious programming make for good advertising options on TV. With content consumption set to rise even further, the report urges brands to create content relevant to their consumers' context with health, fitness, DIY, food, mental health, and entertainment, among some genres that can be considered.

As the medium-term (1 year) and long-term (3 years) forecasts for consumer sentiment in India remains positive, the report states consumers expect interest-rate cuts, public spending and financial regulation to help arrest and reverse the downward trend. With India and all major global economies set to announce aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus packages, the report adds recovery is expected to be slow, but definite.

Published on April 16, 2020

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