By: Deependra Tandon
Nepal has had its fair share of natural disasters in the last decade. Having been hit by one of the largest earthquakes in our living time we are now in the middle of the biggest health pandemic in the last century. These disasters have not only shaken our past and present but also brings us to a point where we need to reassess our future. It shatters the dynamics we live in and forces us to look at things through a new prism. Old answers become irrelevant and new questions arise. How do we reassess and move ahead? This question needs to be answered not only by individuals but also by governments, media, institutes, corporates and yes brands too.
The current pandemic is no different. It is changing the market landscape and continues to do so going forward. We are in the middle of an era which will later be talked in terms of pre-covid 19 and post-covid 19. Such is the scale of changes it is expected to bring. The market situation we find ourselves today is very different from where we were just a year back.
One man’s loss is another man’s gain. We are seeing many traditional industries such as airlines, hotels, retail and mass media struggling on one hand and a rise of new opportunities such as online shopping and digital media taking shape. Brands are being forced to re-assess, re-focus and re-invent all in a very short span of time. It is but natural to expect many will falter but some will shine through. So, what does it take?
Let’s try and analyze on a few things that brands need to take into account in such trying times.
Stand Up and Be There
There is a saying that true characters of people are judged in the most difficult of times. So is the case for brands. Brands are not just about products and companies. They are about people. People that build brands and people that consume those brands. And like people reach out to people in times of disaster so should brands. Consumers need extra care during times of disaster and brands need to step up and do whatever they can at times like these. Brands that succeed in doing so gain much valuable loyalty. Like friends and family, customers would like to see their trusted brands stand by them during times of need. Hiding behind the rubble is not an option. Brands that choose to abstain from reaching out are doing themselves a disservice. Brands in need are brands indeed.
Another important requirement in times of disasters apart from care is sensitiveness. This is a time when brands need to become more human than ever before. People don’t like to be marketed to in the most normal of times. In times of disaster, the dislike of marketing just gets more magnified. In their efforts to reach out, brands need to be extra sensitive about their content, messages and actions. Nothing will put off consumers more than a perception that brands are out to make a quick buck in such times of devastation. Business objectives need to take a back seat for a while. Connecting with the people and sharing their pain makes the brand one of their own.
Brands have the power to help. Big brands have more power to help. Bigger brands are generally the first to step up and help in times of need. Brands have a responsibility towards their customers. It’s time to pay back the debt. They need to quickly access how they can contribute and where they make the best impact. Not everybody should be doing the same things. Brands need to be themselves and focus on how they can be more helpful. In doing so, more long-term thinking is required.
Necessity is the mother of all inventions. We have seen technology taking a leap in such times and brands have to adapt very quickly or they would be left behind in a hurry. Brands need to be nimble and creative to be able to take charge of the altering landscape. We are seeing how sectors like education, entertainment and retail are is having to alter their course rapidly to just stay afloat. Many of these changes will be here to stay and businesses that adapt are the ones that will flourish.
Disasters of this scale end up changing the consumer landscape. Geo-political and social structures go through huge transformations and consumer profiling could get altered. Even consumer behavior changes with a change in psyche. How consumers consume media also could go through a transformation. Brands need to ready themselves for any such changes if they are to connect to a rebounding economy post-disaster. Brands need to understand that there will be customers beyond the disaster.
As the old adage goes, every challenge comes with an opportunity. Brands will have to make an important decision. Whether to cry over the unwarranted and unplanned challenges or to take the lead and grab the opportunities. This decision could be the differentiator between unsuccessful and successful brands of the future.