Line between helpful and opportunistic is as clear as the leaders driving communication: Vivek Chaturvedi

Tupperware India

Vivek Chaturvedi Associate Director – Brand Marketing at Tupperware India speaks about the evolution of marketing in the face of the pandemic & decodes the brand COVID-19 sensitive marketing strategy.

Mid-March witnessed brands & agencies re-evaluate their very brand personality. With most major channels of distribution shut for various industries, does it make sense to market for sales anymore? Vivek Chaturvedi, Tupperware India answers the question, sharing that the brand created a COVID-19 sensitive strategy to survive & thrive through this phase.

In a candid conversation, Chaturvedi shares that its time brands drop the facade, tread the line of ethics & empathy and be there for the consumers.

Excerpts: 

When the pandemic became prominent in India in March, most brands had to revisit their marketing & communication strategy. What was it like for Tupperware India ? 

As in most countries, in India the seriousness of the situation sunk in gradually. We were ready with our March plan. Sudden changes in situation make it challenging to shift gears, especially when you have things rolling in a certain manner. The brand platform was focussed on ‘More Time Living’. “More Time Caring” was the theme for March. “More Time Caring” focussed on our core offering and target audience. And then by Mid-March suddenly the pandemic took over. No one was prepared for a lockdown. 

We started re-evaluating our social media strategy, everyone was working remotely. In such times, a brand needs to be more real; these days consumers are much more savvy, everyone can see through a facade.

We have to be very real in our sense of proportions; we can’t go out and help everyone survive the pandemic, but we can play our role by being genuinely helpful. 

Our production & some of the distribution channels were shutting, outlets were closed, and e-commerce wasn’t delivering non-essentials. DS channel continues to work but with its limitations. In such a scenario our social media strategy cannot be about just selling. We decided to use this time to spread as much positive awareness as we can. 

As a brand, how are you approaching COVID-19? How are you trying to help your consumers survive this difficult phase? Take us through your content plan

One big bucket of content during this period was reinforcing required hygiene habits. But conveyed in a fun way rather than a lesson. The idea was that people shouldn’t find it boring & engage with the witty & helpful content. 

Second big bucket came after the lockdown. Now that people are at home how will we help in keeping them engaged? Smaller tips about exercising, diets, family conversations -were shared in a fun way to help users stay in. 

Third strong content bucket was cooking. In this phase, people rediscovered cooking. Either they are forced to cook or find the time & space to discover cooking in a certain way. Cooking overlaps with a lot of products we offer. We have been sharing immunity boosting & quick to cook recipes. 

We were agile in our approach and adapted to the situation. We planned out content for the COVID-19 sensitive strategy & these 3 buckets are a part of the larger objective which is to generate goodwill for the brand so that in the long run users connect with the brand authentically.

Our production & some of the distribution channels were shutting, outlets were closed, and e-commerce isn’t delivering non-essentials. In such a scenario our social media strategy cannot be about selling because we do not have any channels to sell. We decided to use this time to spread as much positive awareness as we can. 

As a brand, how are you approaching COVID-19? How are you trying to help your consumers survive this difficult phase? Take us through your content plan

One big bucket of content during this period was reinforcing required hygiene habits. The idea was that people shouldn’t find it boring & engage with the witty & helpful content.

Second big bucket came after the lockdown. Now that people are at home how will we help in keeping people engaged? Smaller tips about exercising, diets, family conversations -were shared in a fun way to help users stay in. 

Third strong content bucket was cooking. In this phase, people rediscovered cooking. Either they are forced to cook or are find the time & space to discover cooking in a certain way. Cooking overlaps with a lot of products we offer. We have been sharing immunity boosting & quick to cook recipes.

We changed the core very quickly. We planned out content for the COVID-19 sensitive strategy & these 3 buckets are a part of the larger objective which is to generate goodwill for the brand so that in the long run users connect with the brand authentically.

Also Read: From Advertising to Empathizing: A & M comes off age in the face of a pandemic

How does the team coordinate to execute things in real time? Take us through your creative, communication & approval process while working remotely

Digital marketing has to be very agile; fortunately, Tupperware India works as an entrepreneurial organization now. We are very responsive & like to get things moving quickly. From a digital marketing perspective while there is a larger plan in place for a month, with the content calendar ready, but whenever something topical comes up we brainstorm and turn it around in a one day time period. 

We actively use WhatsApp in our approval process. Whatever we approve for our agency on WhatsApp is very handy. Even if there is feedback we share it on these apps & later everything is encapsulated on an email. The teams are aware that while there is a larger set of content in place when you bring something topical the calendar moves. 

It all depends on how responsive the agency partners are, your personal relationship with the agency team & ownership of work. 

How has social media been helpful in engaging with your consumers? Which platform has yielded maximum results for the brand? 

We’re not a brand that has a big bang television campaign every quarter & it also doesn’t help us because when the channels of sales are spread out all over the country there is a loss of opportunity when mass media is done heavily. Targeted digital push is the core of our marketing plan. 

We do geo-targeted Facebook & Instagram advertising. We make sure that people who are in and around a radius of 5 to 10 miles around our exclusive brand outlets are targeted. Over & above this we use localized marketing – it could be a print ad to announce a new outlet in a given city or a campaign on a local radio channel for let’s say top 9 cities that have our top 25 outlets .

The entire media mix is largely driven by digital & in terms of platforms of course, Instagram is the most responsive. 

When compared to Facebook our Instagram engagement is higher. In this period we have seen, default engagement on both platforms increase. We have doubled our investment in marketing because people are consuming more & more content. Even if you’re generating goodwill the more the number of people see it the better. 

In terms of ad spends, what does your marketing plan for this quarter look like? Please take us through your media mix.

It’s critical to have a plan. You have to prepare for various scenarios. We are thinking what to do if the lockdown continues and what if it doesn’t. Brands need to keep in mind that physical venturing out of consumers into the retail environment is going to be much lesser. Having said that, on the online marketplace front, there will be a boom in purchases & we plan to capitalize on that. Additionally, online customer acquisition will be high in the Post COVID-19 era. Those who avoided online shopping will now go to ecommerce sites. 

For our spends on ATL our print & radio spends will be lesser because that is more channel specific. 

Our digital spends are increasing, at least doubling if not more. Social media will be the core around which all our messaging will be taken forward. 

In the next few days we will be doing Instagram & Facebook Live sessions with influencers & health experts to provide authentic information. 

Also Read: #SamosaTalks Normalcy may start to return by Diwali: Ashish Bhasin

There is a thin line between helpful & opportunistic. How does Tupperware make sure they tread the line?

The line is driven by brand managers & leaders who’re driving the communication. If you really want to be helpful without an agenda then that is how it will be. The line isn’t thin at all. You will have to be ready to give up on a certain media opportunity. Even if you are investing in marketing you will need to be ready to not place your product in it. It will give you the desired impact in the long run. 

The line between helpful & opportunistic is very clear if you decide to genuinely draw it

Have a long term perspective. If you help people during a crisis then that feeling will remain; you will have a stronger bond in the future. Brands will have to approach situations like regular human beings. Do not think about product & sales during this period. 

3 things that the COVID-19 situation taught you in terms of marketing & advertising 

My first reaction was that the world is very unpredictable & that is now a reality. New challenges can come up. 

It’s interesting that while things are uncertain, digital platforms have to be geared into responsiveness. Be more & more real. Because in a sudden crisis the time is short & you don’t have the time to brainstorm and create a fabricated front. The more authentic & genuine you are, the more the audience will connect with you. 

Going forward we’re seeing UGC as a big lever for us. Responsiveness is high, which means authenticity has to be high.  Changing the expectations is important. 

The pandemic has seen the entire Advertising & Marketing industry evolve to rise as one and help citizens. What are some of the marketing trends you have witnessed in this time? 

Everybody talks about purpose based marketing and that has become a keyword to hook people on to. But authenticity is more important than purpose. 

If you’re authentic in your communication then purpose will get taken care of by default

While purpose is a trend, digital will force you to become authentic. COVID-19 has put us in such a phase that true elements of brands are coming out for everyone to see.

There is a thin line between helpful & opportunistic. How does Tupperware make sure they tread the line?

The line is driven by brand managers & leaders who’re driving the communication. If you really want to be helpful without an agenda then that is how it will be. The line isn’t thin at all. You will have to be ready to give up on a certain media opportunity, that fine even if I am investing in marketing I don’t want to place my product in it. It will give you an impact in the long run. 

The line between helpful & opportunistic is very clear if you decide to genuinely draw it.

Have a long term perspective. If you help people during a crisis then that feeling will remain; you will have a stronger bond in the future. Brands will have to approach situations like regular human beings. Do not think about product & sales during this period. 

3 things that the COVID-19 situation taught you in terms of marketing & advertising 

My first reaction was that the world is very unpredictable & that is now a reality. New challenges can come up. 

It’s interesting that while things are uncertain, digital platforms have to be geared into responsiveness. Be more & more real. Because in a sudden crisis the time is short & you don’t have the time to brainstorm and create a fabricated front. The more authentic & genuine you are, the more the audience will connect with you. 

Going forward we’re seeing UGC as a big lever for us. Responsiveness is high, which means authenticity has to be high.  Changing the expectations is important. 

The pandemic has seen the entire Advertising & Marketing industry evolve to rise as one and help citizens. What are some of the marketing trends you have witnessed in this time? 

Everybody talks about purpose based marketing and that has become a keyword to hook people on to. But authenticity is more important than purpose.

If you’re authentic in your communication then purpose will get taken care of by default.

While purpose is a trend, digital will force you to become authentic. COVID-19 has put us in such a phase that true elements of brands are coming out for everyone to see.


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Saloni Surti
A writer by Karma, grammar Nazi by heart and traveler by hope, Saloni loves to pen about anything under the sun. With six years of journalism experience under her kitty, Saloni has tried hands on various beats including – Social Media, e-commerce, Mobile, Indian radio, Advertising, Food and Travel. Writing for various national and international publications has given Saloni an understanding of the science of social media.