AgencyCon 2020: What next for marketers? A&M experts discuss

A&M Experts Panel

We bring together a panel of A&M experts to wonder out loud on what’s next for marketers as the industry recovers from the hit of COVID-19.

In many ways, COVID-19 has levelled the field for everyone in the world of advertising and marketing. Neither the agencies nor the brands have a clear idea of what comes next. There is a lot of anticipation but no clear picture can be seen amidst the haze, prompting most to take each day, each task, each project, one at a time. To make out a slightly clearer image of what’s happening, Social Samosa got a few A&M experts to gaze into the future and help outline the way ahead.

The panel for the session Future Trends: Opportunities beyond the regular for Advertising and Marketing included Bhavana Mittal, VP (Head) – Media and Digital, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, Deepali Naair, Director of Marketing, IBM India & South Asia, Harshil Karia, Founder & MD, Schbang, Kapil Arora, Co-Chairman & CEO, 82.5 Communication and Virginia Sharma, VP – Brand Solutions, JioSaavn. The session was moderated by Varun Duggirala, Co-Founder/Content Chief at The Glitch.

Working Remotely

While working remotely, resources from several parts of the world can be included in the process. However, there is something about being in physical proximity that is crucial to the creative process. Much of the conversation has changed because of COVID-19. The scenarios are no longer options, they need to be managed anyhow.

While producing content in work from home mode, The Glitch’s Duggirala realised that there isn’t a need to have many people in the same place to create stuff. That the process to create content can, in fact, be modular.

Adding to the discussion, IBM’s Naair spoke from her experience of running a campaign amidst the lockdown: “The scripts are being thought out, written and worked on differently.”

Chief Transformation Officer

There were several waves of changes that were brewing up just under the surface in the industry. COVID-19 has accelerated the process in an unprecedented way. 82.5 Communications’s Arora feels that in a way, the pandemic has proved to a Chief Transformation Officer for the industry.

Focus on performance and ROI is another interesting factor that is shaping the industry. Schbang’s Karia explains, “Marketing and sales teams are working together. Now you are being forced to look at now just impressions but also the analytics around spends.”

Also Read: Big ideas can work better than big budgets: Sam Balsara

Streaming changes

On the consumer end, things are changing rapidly. Their days look different, impacting their content consumption needs in a significant way. JioSaavn’s Sharma explains, “Earlier, people were listening while commuting, now they are doing so while completing their household chores. Also, they are going back to the familiar music of the 90s.”

While some of the changes, like a need to go back to familiar things for comfort is expected, there are some dynamic changes that couldn’t have been thought of. “Nobody could have predicted that Ramayan would be the Game of Thrones!” exclaims RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group’s Mittal.

Talking specifically about the finance sector, Naair outlines building trust and working on keeping data secure as two aspects brands need to concentrate on. “We need to tell the consumers that their data is secure.”

Spending Wisely

As the industry adapts to the ‘new normal’, there will be three things that will have to be looked at more closely. Naair lists them as Authenticity, Agility and Ability. It would be important to be present with relevant communication, to pivot quickly according to needs and have the ability now, and to build it for the future.

Going forward, there will be changes in the cohorts of consumers that would emerge. Arora predicts three: Affluent Urban that would be willing to pay a little more for better. Middle India where emotions and prudence will determine choices. And, Disenchanted, for whom the conversation would be around sustenance.

For brands as well as agencies, it would be key to understand and focus communication on what they can provide people in their homes, says Duggirala. This is important because they have spent a lot of time at home now, they know it can be done and are likely to think of ways to make living at home better.

The panel of A&M experts agreed on some key factors that would be important for marketers in the times to come:

  • Reduce overheads, conserve cash
  • Know that India’s not the only market
  • Be open to acquiring diverse talent
  • Have scope for shared leadership
  • Look at segmentation in a new light

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