Ad spends, purchases, and RoI – all took a hit when the waves of pandemic loomed over at the start of 2020. Sergio Marquina a.k.a The Professor steps up to gauge the efforts undertaken by the industry to form new e-commerce marketing trends in the year went by.
“In this world, everything is governed by balance. There’s what you stand to gain and what you stand to lose,” once said The Professor – a man of meticulous planning and great economic understanding. As a part of Social Throwback 2020’s theme, we thought who better than The Professor from the acclaimed series Money Heist, to recap the e-commerce marketing trends witnessed in 2020.
The Online Consumer- “Time is Greater than Money”
From lockdown to unlock – we saw many phases in the last one month. When the Professor insisted on valuing time over money he implied appreciating the little moments of togetherness that 2020 was all about. From spending time together to watching shows to shopping – a lot was done online as families were confined in their homes.
Consumer behavior saw a paradigm shift as the demand moved from being leisure based to heavily need-based. “The initial days of the pandemic and the lockdown saw a surge in demand for products for basic needs. Closer to the festive times as the unlock began, the demand shifted and consumers spent more freely on non-essentials,” shares a Nykaa spokesperson.
Findings from Unicommerce suggest this festive season e-commerce industry reported ~56% growth in order volume as compared to last year. Consumers have become more value-conscious than before and now are shopping across new categories. The rise of new categories such as Personal Care and Beauty products and higher sales of lower value products led to a decline in average order value by 4% as compared to last year’s festive season.
Since COVID-19 hit, e-commerce portals like Quikr witnessed many first-time adopters as consumers leaned towards digital mediums for a safe shopping experience. Vineet Sehgal, CMO at Quikr notes, “Even categories like real-estate and auto which are typically more reliant on touch-and-feel factors are driving interactions online not just by consumers but also the market players.”
Sharing a more detailed view of the intimate wear shopping preferences online, Khatija Lokhandwala, Dy. General Manager- Marketing, Zivame states that comfort is the most sought after benefit leading to increased demand for styles that deliver high on comfort- like non-padded, non-wired lingerie styles in 2020.
She adds, “There is also demand for stylish Sleepwear and Loungewear which is good enough to be worn for work video calls as well as comfortable for all-day wear at home. With restrictions eased across the country and life slowly returning to normalcy, there is also a pent-up desire to dress up and feel good.”
Health and wellness is playing on everyone’s mind and consumers are now looking to ensure that exercising becomes a part of their daily routine- leading to a demand for active wear especially among beginners.
Considering the safety of their loved ones, customers preferred to shop online which led Cornitos to step up their e-commerce presence, and thus, an online portal was launched.
“Consumers have become more cautious while spending and are looking for options where they get value-added benefits. Not only this they are majorly spending on those products that are essentials and opting for the brands that are offering discounts and rewards benefits. We witnessed an increase in the demand for healthy products like our Veggie Nachos- Quinoa, Spinach, Beetroot, and Melange combo pack is the most demanded product along with Cheese & Herbs and Sizzin Jalapeno on our – e-commerce website,” shares Vikram Agarwal, Managing Director, Cornitos.
E-commerce marketing trends 2020- “Then, it’s the War”
Witnessing a rise in the online shopping graph during the pandemic, e-commerce majors and brands having a significant digital presence put out the best deals in the market to lure in a bevy of consumers. According to the ‘Modern Marketing Reckoner’ report, 34% of business respondents have increased digital media budgets while 23% have focused more on eCommerce selling.
‘It was war’- and players in the category rolled their sleeves to leverage the moment and just like the Professor’s calculative mind, calibrated strategies to draw a line between being opportunistic and sensitive towards the situation.
As the consumers changed with the arrival of the New Normal, eCommerce brands too revamped their marketing tactics going beyond the air-tight division of digital and traditional. According to a Nykaa spokesperson, video content ruled the roost as most of the consumers went online in search of interesting content.
While influencer marketing is a key tool, Nykaa adopted a 360-degree holistic marketing approach. It’s marketing strategy also involved digital and offline marketing as well as leveraging their content platforms, including social media channels, Nykaa network, Nykaa TV, and a new platform called Explore. Explore is an app-only feature by Nykaa, a watch & shop format where the app users can learn beauty tricks, hacks, tutorials, discover the products, and buy them.
“If we talk about trends in the e-commerce space, they are changing continuously in order to try and capture every individual’s thought process from all the corners of the world to buy products and services at ease. This also makes the future of internet-based businesses an exciting landscape,” notes Hitesh Rao, Co-founder of RR Group.
Sehgal points out that unlike the last 3-4 years where the focus was to convince customers to come online, this year took a turn with digital gaining even more prominence. “Adding to this, the adoption of digital payments helped make the job of e-commerce marketing much easier,” he added.
Secondly, the focus was on penetrating smaller towns and so the messaging tuned towards driving new customer adoption from tier II & III cities. Apart from this, e-commerce businesses were also focused on cutting their advertising costs and marketing budgets as part of overall cost management and also lower the cost of customer acquisition.
In these times, brands followed the 3 E’s to drive engagement through all content, Lokhandwala asserts. Educate– great opportunity to drive awareness about critical aspects of the category one operates in, Empathize- understand the difficult times and share the silver lining, and Entertain-engage consumers through content that is smart, educative, relatable, and humorous.
The Marketing Mix- ‘It’s always good to have a Plan B’
As they say, nothing can proceed without a plan. But what happens to that plan when a crisis erupts. For someone as unassuming yet highly decisive as the Professor, it’s a compulsory trait to have a Plan B. When the pandemic hit the world and businesses were clueless about their marketing blueprints, digital avenues emerged as the savior and as the inevitable Plan B.
Advertising budgets and marketing tactics were relooked along with revisiting the campaign timelines. The players had to take the market sentiments into consideration to devise promotional plans and offers while utilising the mediums in hand.
“It’s the little things, after all.”
To deal with the situation Cornitos initiated a series of consumer offers promoted via online and modern trade channels with a special focus on the e-commerce website.
Cornitos’ social media strategy during the peak of the pandemic included creating multiple posts to tell people about the importance of social distancing. They also concentrated their efforts to boost consumer morale. People were also asked to share their lockdown stories and recipes with #LockdownWithCornitos with brand goodies being offered as incentives.
Zivame’s blogs and social media focused on developing informational and relatable content to simplify the consumer journey and help her navigate the lingerie category. Khandelwal adds here, “We use the principle of accessibility and personalization in our approach to marketing. We are media agnostic and choose the right channel basis the objectives for every campaign.”
Quikr’s strategy was subjected to leveraging its existing audience base via cross-category opportunities. As for social media, it is used for both brand communication as well as performance marketing for lead generation and customer acquisition.
Apart from promoting its offerings, the portal also ensured consumers of its sanitization drives and efforts to deliver products safely.
The company leveraged its Goodness Ambassadors to not only spread awareness about the WHO guidelines for precautions against the infection but also distributed free sanitizers to people like security personnel, healthcare workers, delivery agents, domestic help, and others who needed it the most.
Vistaprint India too advocated social distancing norms and precautionary measures while also putting out the personalised and custom offerings.
The Post-Pandemic advertising era- ‘It’s Time for a Plan C’
Donning a perfectionist attitude, the Professor guides us to have a Plan C always. And ecommerce brands have one on the A & M front.
Cornitos will be utilizing a major chunk of the advertising spend for digital on GDN and Programmatic banners and a little bit of traditional media for offline promotion. The social media plan for the next few months would be to introduce ‘Cornitos By My Side’ as a primary campaign for all platforms. The brand would be conducting regular social ads to keep momentum on the pages.
For beauty care e-commerce major Mamaearth, the digital mediums remain focal for and hence the company plans to sustain the momentum across digital platforms with social media taking the larger pie.
The situation has also given an opportunity to companies like Vistaprint India to re-look at it’s existing channel mix.
“We have started to leverage ‘owned media’ such as social, website, and free channels like SEO even further to increase our digital footprint in the current times. Our measurement is focused on both the effectiveness and efficiency of advertising. The efficiency of advertising is best understood by analytical tools that help understand when a consumer/ cohort of consumers break even and turn profitable,” says Bharath Sastry, CEO of Vistaprint India.
Quikr attracts about 20 million unique users a month and over 95 percent of this traffic is organically sourced, according to Sehgal. “Also, our parameters continue to be driven toward cost-efficiency and ROI, hence the pandemic has not changed anything on that front. Along with strong analytics, we are able to create cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.”
Cornitos is currently focusing on running digital advertisements on platforms that would give RoI along with creating awareness about the website. Agarwal informs, “The parameters of advertising can now be measured in terms of conversations that have been created surrounding campaigns and also improved listening about product innovation and feedback from consumers is vital.”
Another change that’s in the offing, according to Sastry, is the need for marketing spend to be profitable or breakeven and create long term value, which will require companies to embrace relevant analytical tools
As the Professor would say – it’s umpteen significant to compose clear and smart objectives. The year might have been a bane for many but it won’t be wrong to say that it came as a boon to the e-commerce sector. It reflected the shopping perspective, focusing on how the shopping baskets were replaced with the online bags for consumers, the shift towards essentials, and the huge increase in eCommerce as a mode of shopping- continues to reign.