Spreading positivity during Covid-19 will help brands

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on May 26, 2020

The idea was to create a platform for seniors to gain access to people that lead inspiring lives and make a difference   -  PTI

Keeping consumers engaged is paramount, says official of senior living community operator

Coronavirus is set to define how marketing will play out in the post Covid era. When a cultural moment shifts as dramatically as it has in the face of Covid-19, it is important that brands address marketing strategically with tact, insight, empathy, mindfulness and positivity, says an executive.

It is important to keep your consumers engaged at this time, stresses Piali Dasgupta, VP-Marketing, Columbia Pacific Communities, a senior living community operator.

“While a lot of marketers are still divided on whether or not to spend marketing dollars at a time when people are not consuming their products or services, we are of the firm belief that this is no time to go dark or remain silent. For a brand like ours, catering to a demography that is the worst hit by Covid-19 (senior citizens), this is the best time to engage with them,” Dasgupta said.

While seniors not only feel the most vulnerable during this time, they also feel the need to be meaningfully engaged to ensure that they are not consumed by all the negative news swirling around them, added the official.

“The idea of community living, and a whole community supporting you is what we want to build our narrative around at this time. Stories and narratives of hope and goodwill is what we are continuously focused on,” Dasgupta said.

The organisation’s communication strategy has been built on the fundamental principle of wanting to “help our consumers. It is no secret that the lockdown period has been extremely challenging for seniors who have found themselves helpless, lonely, anxious and vulnerable.”

Almost immediately after the nationwide lockdown was announced, the organisation launched a 19-day social media campaign titled #PositiveLockdown to ensure that seniors make the most of the lockdown period and try out new experiences or nurture old hobbies.

Through a digital activity calendar of sorts, several ideas were shared — from reading books to learning an instrument, or playing online Antakshari, or giving gardening a shot.

The campaign reached over 12.5 lakh people and garnered over 13.1 lakh impressions.

The next phase of the Covid communication, titled #SeniorsInCommand, was an ode to seniors who have taken charge of the situation and gone beyond their call of duty to help and support communities affected by the virus. “It was a celebration of seniors who are in command, both within our community and outside of it. Everyday heroes in our community like ladies who are making masks for front line warriors, or those that are teaching kids online, were brought to the fore,” said Dasgupta.

The campaign reached over 10 lakh people. Another initiative called #TheLivingRoom, conceptualised to spread positivity among senior citizens, had noted actors, doctors and stand-up comedians engaging virtually with seniors.

“Our focus has been towards leveraging the power of technology and social media to bring people closer at a time when everyone is socially distanced. That is how the idea of The Living Room was born. It is a series of virtual talk shows and sessions using the Facebook live streaming feature, with luminaries who engaged with and motivated senior citizens,” said the official.

The idea was to create a platform for seniors to gain access to people that lead inspiring lives and make a difference. “We invited a cross section of people from the fields of healthcare, wellness and therapy, sports, comedy and entertainment to ensure that we were catering to diverse tastes and interests of our audience.”

The Living Room campaign reached over 1 lakh people, and led to a jump of over 193 per cent in conversations on social media. The organisation has completed 10 episodes of The Living Room within 40 days of launching the initiative.

Speaking about community engagement, the official added: “Community is at the heart of what we do. Building highly engaged, positive, motivated communities for seniors is our raison d’etre — and we ensure the 1,800 residents at our nine communities are positively engaged.”

Post-Covid, Dasgupta said there would be no drastic shift in how brands communicate and market their products. “Once the lockdown is lifted, there will be pressure to make up for lost time and chase revenue goals for the quarter. Sooner than later, brands will have to go back to product-driven marketing.”

The Prime Minister’s appeal to be ‘vocal about local’ to nurse the economy back into good health would also be adhered to by most brands, said the official, with brands more focused, henceforth, on showcasing their ‘localness’ and celebrating the ‘Make in India’ sentiment.

Published on May 26, 2020

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