Brands can no longer escape ‘hygiene filter’ in post Covid era

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on April 29, 2020 Published on April 29, 2020

As consumers continue to stave off uncertainties by stacking up food and utility supplies, the pandemic has brought on dramatic changes in behaviour as well as spending patterns. High personal and public hygiene standards are expected to be the new normal, with Covid-19 upping the hygiene quotient. Brands will no longer be able to escape the ‘hygiene filter’ in the post Covid era.

Right from the sensitivity of advertisements, to communications about the hygiene measures put in place, to any changes in the actual product or service delivery, brands will have to spell out all that they do to assure consumers on the hygiene factor.

“All brands will have to reassure consumers the manufacturing of the goods are in safe hands. Packaging will have to go through new hygiene standards. Contactless experiences will be a new practice even for categories such as the automobile sector,” says Anjali Malthankar, National Strategy Director at digital agency Tonic Worldwide.

The coronavirus outbreak is changing customer experience, unlike any other industry disruption. It is also changing how consumers will shop and behave in the future. Malthankar told BusinessLine that whatever the category or sector, the care taken to maintain hygiene will have to be demonstrated to consumers.

“Restaurants will need new hygiene standard guidelines. Apparel and fashion brands will have to think of new methods for trials, as there will be apprehension trying on something that’s been tried before by someone else. Even relationship management will get digitised,” added the official.

Almost all offline retail purchase behaviour will need to ensure the new need for extreme hygiene. A recent study underscores this, showing hygiene quotient (HQ) as top of mind with 108,579 conversations around it in March.

The study by Gipsi, a division of Tonic Worldwide, notes there are bound to be monumental shifts in how retailers merchandise to customers and execute transactions.

While the study recorded 643 per cent increase in ‘how to wash hands’ searches, it showed an astounding 5,437 per cent increase in searches related to sanitisers and 3,460 per cent increase in searches related to handwash.

Malthankar says post Covid-19, all brands will have to pass the HQ test. Noting that the lockdown has forced consumers to leapfrog and embrace digital, and brands need to be ready, Unmisha Bhatt, Chief Strategy Officer and Director-India & MENA region, Tonic Worldwide, adds, “Every move of a marketer will go through scrutiny from consumers. Brands will have to go beyond using data just for performance metrics and seeing digital as just an extension medium.”

The study showed India has leapfrogged onto digital online life during the lockdown, right from online grocery shopping registering 32 per cent increase in interest compared to pre-lockdown, working online (313 per cent increase in interest ), WhatsApping (40 per cent increase), banking (4 per cent increase in interest), and searches for paying bills to even praying online (clocking 73 per cent increase in searches).

Published on April 29, 2020
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