BESTSELLER India’s Vineet Gautam sheds light on the company’s marketing strategy in the times of COVID-19 and the changing dynamics of communication pertaining to the new normal.
To accelerate brand visibility, ONLY in collaboration with Cosmopolitan India, rolled out ‘ONLY at Home’ brand campaign featuring ambassador, Ananya Panday. The campaign attempts to portray the new reality of the world, through the lens of the brand ambassador.
We get talking to Vineet Gautam, CEO & Country Head, BESTSELLER India, the parent company of brands like Jack & Jones, Vero Moda, Selected & Only, to know more about the making of the campaign, distant brainstorming, creative challenges, content strategy in times of a crisis and more.
What was the insight and objective behind the campaign?
‘ONLY At Home’, captures the canvas of Ananya’s lockdown diaries, encouraging the ONLY girls to experience the extraordinary times with being fashionably stylish, while most importantly embracing oneself. Even as the world comes back to normalcy, self-love and self-care will not go out of style! Hence, this was a campaign woven together with Ananya being a part of it.
How has social media been helpful in engaging with consumers? Which platform has yielded maximum results?
We did know the world will go digital slowly and gradually but the COVID-19 situation hit the market so hard that overnight digitization had to be accelerated. That was the ultimate mode of B2C communication.
Applications like Tiktok suddenly saw a hike in the market and brands swiftly shifted their focus on to it. For BESTSELLER, we were focused more on Instagram & Facebook, all our communications were routed through these two platforms.
Our communication and marketing strategy was constant through Instagram and Facebook; ‘ONLY AT Home’ was extensively promoted on these platforms in addition to being live on Ananya and Cosmopolitan’s social media handles.
How did the distance brainstorming pan out? Any challenges that you faced while working remotely?
When the brand team thought to shoot on a Zoom call, we all were amazed but also curious as to how this was possible. The Cosmopolitan team assisted in the best way by bringing together a panel of experts for this shoot. We were ecstatic, anxious, and on the edge, till the word ‘wrap up’ was announced!
This couldn’t have been visually or functionally possible without the endurance and support of our ONLY girl Ananya Panday.
As a company, how are you approaching COVID-19? How are you trying to help your consumers survive this difficult phase?
During the lockdown, as all our physical stores were shut across the country, the focus shifted from new launches and product themed communication to interacting with our consumers to forge a deeper bond with them.
While we shared relevant and engaging content across social media platforms for all our brands including contests, takeovers, and more, we also focused on curating interesting virtual brand experiences to spread positivity during these tough times.
For instance, we launched an engaging concept called ‘The Indoor Project – Play It Out Loud’ for JACK&JONES where every Saturday an upcoming indie artist would go live on the brand’s handle and perform his latest tunes. Consumers had to just tune into the Instagram live and enjoy a Saturday night concert, at home!
On the special occasion of Mother’s Day, we created a virtual ‘Mother’s Day Bingo with Vero Moda’, where consumers could play and share their answers on Instagram and just spread some virtual cheer for the occasion.
For ONLY, we initiated ‘Slay At Home With ONLY’ wherein we got influencers on board for various activities like Denim DIY tutorial, Baking session with a baker on Mother’s day & a doodle artist to educate the followers on the basics of this art form. This was also turned into an interactive session wherein the followers could pose their questions to receive expert responses.
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When the pandemic became prominent in India in March, most brands had to revisit their marketing & communication strategy. What was it like for BESTSEELLER? How did you decide on your current content hooks?
The pandemic got us to think innovatively, to think about basics even how to keep working, how to muster the strength to encourage the retailers as well as consumers. While all these thoughts led us to several brainstorming sessions, the brand team came up with so engaging content creation ideas for consumers to enjoy. Just a breath of fresh air in these uncertain times.
With ONLY At Home, we wanted to reach out to young girls and focus on self-care and self-love. To encourage them to continue pursuing hobbies and developing new interests from the comfort and safety of their homes.
We’re definitely emboldened and filled with hope for the future. We will continue to set more trends, bring in more innovation, and focus on forging an inimitable bond with our customers. We’re glad we could create some engaging content through the lockdown period across all brands for consumers.
In terms of ad spends, what does your marketing plan for this quarter look like?
With ‘conscious buying’ as the new refrain, consumers are only spending on meaningful products and experiences which deliver on quality, reasonability, and durability. Comfort, style, and versatility have always been our priority, which we will continue to offer across all our channels. The marketing focus will be more on driving engagement and ROI rather than using traditional media avenues to ensure brand building.
With the lockdown in place, an impact is bound to appear on the business front. What kind of impact are you looking at? How do you plan to deal with it?
The impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and has had adverse effects on the overall economy across different sectors. While safety and well-being are of utmost importance, the retail sector has been dealing with various challenges including the high cost of goods and piling stock inventory, high rentals, insolvency, overheads, etc. The pandemic has taught us all to rethink and reimagine the concept of retail.
At Bestseller, while we continue to prioritize the safety of our employees as well as our valued customers, in accordance with the government guidelines, we have been focusing on a seamless e-commerce experience in order to continue serving our patrons and working on robust strategies with respect to reopening our stores as well.
3 things that the COVID-19 situation taught you in terms of marketing & advertising?
Building and maintaining customer relationships is key and it’s during these times that customers value the brands that have understood the needs of the customer’s pre- COVID-19 and during COVID-19. Customers value the efforts brands take to give them a great experience even in these times. Whether it is personalization on birthdays & anniversaries, relevant engagement on social media like apt LIVE sessions, delivery of products as committed, or even empathizing with customers. It’s all part of an experience which is lasting and translates into the word of mouth marketing which is the end goal of marketing
Hyperlocal marketing and working towards making customers feel safe/secure while interacting with a brand plays a very important role in these times as brands need to understand that customers are not very open to connecting with many brands in these times. Hence it makes it more important to maintain trust and go to the customer where she or he is.
Being driven by brand purpose and not growth or consumption – it is a true test of a brand’s authenticity in times like these and most importantly the power of resilience.
How do you see the industry shaping up in the post COVID world?
E-commerce will definitely get a head start and we also believe hyperlocal is going to be the new normal and we’ve already been working on that. Physical retail, in the long term, should not face any challenges though it will take time for customers to come back to the store. But I think in India, we all desire experiences, and that can only happen at the physical space which is what our stores provide.