‘Brands are the most tangible assets in a crisis’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 31, 2020 Published on July 31, 2020

(clockwise from top left) Saugata Gupta, MD and CEO, Marico Ltd; Vinay Kamath, Senior Associate Editor, BusinessLine; T Krishnakumar, President, India and South West Asia, the Coca Cola Company, and Harish Bhat, Brand Custodian, Tata Sons at the BL Webinar on Friday

Brands may be intangible assets but during a crisis they are the most tangible and can become the “polestar” of trust.

Panelists in the 12th edition of the BusinessLine Knowledge Series webinar emphasised that consumers are seeking trusted brands that offer them the comfort of safety and hygiene. While it is critical for brands to focus on accessibility and affordability, they also need to have clear purpose.

Moderated by Vinay Kamath, Senior Associate Editor, BusinessLine, the webinar on How brands can re-invent themselves saw the participation of T Krishnakumar, President, India and South West Asia, The Coca-Cola Company; Harish Bhat, Brand Custodian, Tata Sons, and Saugata Gupta, Managing Director and CEO, Marico Ltd. The discussion was powered by ITM Business School.

The pandemic has triggered massive changes in consumption and shopping behaviour. Marico’s Gupta said it has accelerated the adoption of e-commerce as consumers are shopping online is expected to be permanent. “The other pleasant surprise has been how the good old kirana is back in the reckoning as they offered dependability for last mile home delivery to consumers.” But, consumers are expected to go back to malls and seek destination shopping experiences.

Bhat said there is a spectrum of possibilities on which behavioural shifts will remain permanent and which will be temporary. “Consumers have begun using dishwashers, appliances and gadgets as they stay at home. Demand for such products will grow as consumers seek convenience. They will also seek products that offer a combination of indulgence, health and immunity. Focus on health and hygiene is also expected to become a permanent habit.”

Krishnakumar said, “The virus has catalysed certain changes in consumption and shopping behaviour. We had a clear strategy with four basic pillars. We have been focussing on making our core portfolio of sparkling beverages and juices more relevant besides creating local and hyperlocal offerings.” He added that a company cannot alter its strategic approach and vision for a crisis but instead needs to adapt it to ensure relevance without losing direction.

FMCG sector lagging

Referring to how the FMCG sector is taking to digital, Gupta said consumer packaged goods have been relative laggards compared to other industries in this area. He said the need for digital transformation has accelerated and it’s critical for leaders in companies to develop digital capabilities. “Till a few years ago, marketers were comfortable with mass marketing. But the growth of the internet and e-commerce has shown that it can be an alternate business model and will co-exist with traditional channels”, he said.


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Published on July 31, 2020
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