In conversation with Social Samosa, Managing Director, Donear Industries, Rajendra Agarwal sheds light on the brand’s marketing and communication strategy.
Donear Industries Limited has been in the business for 40+ years and treats textiles as the Group’s core business. With a strong presence in about 30 plus countries, the conglomerate has different textile brands under its portfolio including Donear, GBTL (formerly GRASIM Suitings), Graviera, OCM to name a few; and D’Cot & Donear NXG apparel brands with positive cash flow.
We speak to the company’s Managing Director, Rajendra Agarwal at length diving into Donear Industries’ core communication and marketing strategy, upgrading the crisis management skills, business in the ‘new normal’, social media strategy, and more.
As a brand, how are you approaching COVID-19? How are you trying to help your consumers survive this difficult phase?
As a brand, and as the Donear Group, we put on our thinking caps right at the onset of the pandemic. We really pushed for innovation and were the first in the industry to launch anti-viral textile technology as early as April this year. Product extensions were also something we actively forayed into with PPE kits and anti-microbial face masks and so on.
The main intent behind driving innovation was so we, as a brand, could go that extra mile for our end customer and assure them that we stand alongside their daily battle in this ‘new normal.’
When the pandemic became prominent in India in March, most brands had to revisit their marketing & communication strategy. What was it like for Donear?
The consumer psyche had a paramount shift during the pandemic. Health, hygiene, and protection became the central drivers. During the initial lockdown spells, a core team ideated and formalized communication prongs to build brand consciousness.
Since the screen time for everyone increased dramatically, we took to TV advertising and digital media.
To reach the masses, we played an old school Donear TV ad during Mahabharat and Ramayana episodes which were a sure shot success.
We also took to digital in a big way and corresponded with our business associates and end consumers alike with interesting, engaging content.
How has social media been helpful in engaging with your consumers? Which platform has yielded maximum results for the brand?
We started rolling our communication about our new product launch and partnership with HEIQ Switzerland for anti-viral fabrics, with WhatsApp and Facebook being our anchor platforms. We ran a few product-centric campaigns and festival-centric contests that upped our digital share of voice.
We also jumped onto the webinar bandwagon a few times – sharing business modules and tips with our associates, being a part of webinars for prominent publications, and hosting our own. So in that sense, YouTube gave us a lot of traction with impressions and engagement.
There is a thin line between helpful &opportunistic. How does Donear make sure they tread the line?
Valuing our customers and wanting to give them the best we can offer has always been our motto.
We did our research (primary & secondary), tested the product multiple times in various labs, tied up with reputed textile technology experts, and then only did we roll out communication and production. So therefore there’s a very strict protocol we follow.
That being said, for us, we just wanted customers to know that we have envisioned a product for the current times to ensure an added layer of protection for them.
How does the team coordinate to execute the real-time marketing strategy? Please take us through your creative, communication & marketing team’s day to day hustle.
We have a strong, integrated marketing team that works in conjunction with senior management. Fortunately, we have a team that’s adept in wearing multiple hats – be it creative, communication, and seeing through execution. Their daily hustle involves everything from brand planning to communication roll out to coordinating with agencies and ideating for further instilling our brand salience.
This includes all media, PR activities, BTL and PoS fronts, all mainline Once a plan is put in place with suitable creatives, a cross-functional team assesses the viability, and a plan is put in place based on inputs from all.
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With the lockdown, an impact was bound to appear on the business front. What kind of impact did Donear face? How are you dealing with it?
As I said, consumer buying behavior has been affected by a great magnitude. While ‘hoarding’ was a big spike for FMCG during the initial phase, the rest of the phase has had very conservative and prudent spending – primarily on essentials.
At Donear, we really went all-in with Anti-Viral fabrics and it’s due promotion. We have seen a lot of positive signs from B2B buyers and now with the unlock underway, from our business associates and end customers too.
We aim to keep fuelling our trade channel through various marketing and sales tactical steps.
In terms of ad spends, what does your marketing plan for this quarter look like? Please take us through your media mix.
The fiscal year began with strategic investments behind our new Anti-Viral launch on mainline media including TV and print.
The present quarter is focussing on digital and building brand awareness. More so, with the markets opening up, we are focussing on end mile-consumers connect with a fair share of BTL and PoS items underway including retail kits with educational posters about our products and hygiene elements about respective shops.
With increased travel restrictions, digital will play a key role in our future quarters – for end customers and in revamping our traditional modes of operations.
Festive marketing plans. What is the kind of a budget has been allocated?
We’re optimistic about the festival season most certainly. Like I said, closer to the festivals, we intend to ramp up the BTL activities to engage with our end customers. We also plan to have an active mainline media mix to capture a share of the mind of our customers.
Digitally led campaigns and contests will be offshoots of our ongoing and overarching mainline campaigns.
Our annual fiscal budget allocated for these activities has been pegged at INR 10 crores give and take.
3 things that the COVID-19 situation taught you in terms of marketing & advertising
1. Learning the new every day – trying new ideas, experimenting and beta testing has been key for us
2. Being agile – to be able to quickly adapt and move forward to changing circumstances and tweak the media mix
3. Staying true to innovation – heralding product and being true to the brand philosophy of quality
The pandemic has seen the entire A & M industry evolve to rise as one and help citizens. What are some of the marketing trends you have witnessed?
One key trend that we’ve noticed – brands communicating with their customers through empathy and reassurance of their brand promise.
It’s been key to delve into the customer psychography and really relate to their subliminal wants and have the right communication tailored to befit that.
Road to recovery
Given the current situation, the products are being pushed out and the markets are beginning to open up. We’re confident with a consistent stream of omnichannel communication, we will be able to create greater consumer pull.