Usha International’s Komal Mehra takes us through the brand’s marketing plans to drive growth and fulfill its objectives from IPL 2020.
Usha International has continued its association with Mumbai Indians, as an official partner for the seventh consecutive year. As part of the association, the Usha logo will be seen on the leading side caps and helmets of MI players and on the mat during match toss. The stadium will also have massive LED screens running across the perimeter, which will showcase the Usha brand during a couple of overs of the game.
On the sidelines, Komal Mehra, Head – Sports Initiatives and Associations, Usha International speaks to Social Samosa, divulging details about the company’s RoI expectations, boosting brand awareness, and marketing plan for the tournament.
What was the insight behind your association with Mumbai Indians?
We constantly look for ways in which we can authentically engage sports talent while promoting an active and healthy lifestyle and our association with Mumbai Indians is an extension of that commitment.
With Mumbai Indians emerging as the top-performing team with their fourth win in 2019, it is a partnership that has positively influenced both our business and our stakeholders.
In the current scenario where the world is fighting COVID-19, we see our association as an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with our consumers as well as our partners.
If there is one thing we know about sports fans, it is that they want to be participants in sporting experiences, not just spectators.
We are confident that our association with MI will play a major role in the way people access and experience sports events.
What does the overall marketing plan for the season look like? What kind of a role will social media play?
During this cricketing season, the focus will be on creating virtual experiences that will become lifetime memories for all of us. We have planned a series of activations straddling various digital platforms for growing stakeholder engagement and brand recall; online contests on days when Mumbai Indians is playing, giving consumers a chance to win exciting Usha products; and virtual meet and greet opportunities for channel partners to interact with their favorite MI players.
Moreover, we will also launch a digital campaign, featuring select players of the MI team and a substantial percentage of our marketing spends have been allocated to digital this season.
Also Read: #SSIPLWatch Our objectives from IPL marketing are brand awareness & installs: Ashish Bajaj, MediBuddy
What are the parameters to calculate ROI on your IPL marketing initiatives? Do you think it will be difficult to recover the investment amidst the pandemic crisis?
In light of the challenges that the pandemic has imposed, we consider connecting with the audience as one of the key performance indicators for our brand.
Our foremost aim is to change the moodscape of the consumers and fill it with fun and cheer. If we are successful in doing that via our association with MI and the various initiatives aligned to that, that will be RoI enough. It is more about purpose and intent and the building of our brand salience, rather than monetary RoI.
How will you be leveraging IPL to bounce back from the pandemic induced business lull & changing consumer habits created by the lockdown?
A change in venue and closed-door matches – we have not witnessed the tournament being played in such unprecedented and challenging times. Fans and associated brands will miss out on the in-stadia experience, on-ground activations, and meet-and-greet with the cricketers. However, with the work from home scenario, an unprecedented number of fans will be parked right in front of their TV sets and other screens during the matches.
What the pandemic has done is helped create a new reality and with it accelerate digital adoption. With record-breaking viewership during the first match, the numbers are only set to grow more. Additionally, the high level of digital media engagement connecting fans on digital and social media is also rising exponentially.
Amidst the recent crisis, we are recalibrating our strategies, mindful of customer sensitivities while engaging with them. In the aftermath of the pandemic, people’s reluctance to mingle in crowded public places and their growing propensity for digital adoption are what will drive realignment of marketing strategies by brands. In fact, the changes in shopping habits are already visible. Traditional buyers, who were earlier apprehensive of shopping online, have overcome their mindset barriers and now transacting online with ease. We are, of course, working at the back-end to make all operations as seamless as possible, for the benefit and safety of our customers.
Pre corona v/s post corona: has IPL marketing or sports marketing in general changed dramatically? What are the key advertising & marketing trends you foresee?
Over the past seven years of our association, we have seen this tournament work extremely well for all brands on board by strengthening consumer and partner connect, both on-ground and across various channels, to create a multiplier effect. The tournament has spurred sponsors to create 360 multi-channel media marketing campaigns spanning TV, print, radio, digital, BTL, and on-ground activations across geographies providing a great opportunity for companies to be omnipresent, and thus create top of the mind recall.
While the tournament will pan out slightly differently this year due to COVID mandated restrictions, engagement will be the same though driven using different channels with brands thinking afresh about how best to connect with their stakeholders. We foresee exciting times ahead for both the audiences and brands this cricketing season with millions of views across the globe, who tune in to watch the matches at home, on their screens. It is a global event where the excitement is now being offered across screens at home rather than being restricted to stadiums.
While the pandemic has played a crucial role in driving a new-found focus on digital with events and activations being virtual, it will also be key to creating rewarding digital experiences for the consumers. In-stadia branding and on-ground virtual activation such as coin toss mat will now play a bigger role in subliminally driving brand salience.