Cocooning Culture: How Indian brands make the most of consumer hibernation phase?

Cocooning brands

From what is the cocooning culture in an Indian context, to how are brands catering to consumers who are a part of this culture as hibernate at home during lockdown – the article decodes cocooning brands marketing tactics.

It’s been over a year of staying at home — and working from beds. Even as people try to bring a sense of normalcy in their homes (and hunt for privacy), new avenues keep cropping up for brands to step up their content creation game. There are various touchpoints where they can still be a part of their consumers’ lives, even if it’s remotely, via screens. They can provide them comfort and keep them entertained as they hustle through this ‘cocooning phase’.

What Is The Cocooning Culture?

To begin with, it is important to understand the meaning and importance of the cocooning culture among consumers, which has especially gained prominence since the lockdown first begun. As the name suggests, cocooning refers to the consumers’ tendency of not only staying at home but also enjoying working from the comforts of their abode. According to data by BBH Black Sheep, “1 in 5 of us now want to work from home all the time.” This piece of data was shared in November last year and over the year as lockdowns became more prominent and frequent, this sentiment has only gotten stronger.

Now, as consumers enjoy this hibernation phase, are brands ready?

What’s Cocooning For Brands?

Staying in a place for an extended duration, without any out insight, can be tiresome. It is leading people to spruce up their households and engaging in DIY projects, especially ones involving cooking and gardening. This change in lifestyle has translated into a content peg for many brands.

Below are some of the trends we witnessed over the last few weeks of hibernation.

When it comes to fashion, skincare, and wellness, brands can be seen focussing on WFH clothing and skincare regimes that people can use to rejuvenate themselves. Apart from launching new products (like mug cakes), brands have also been giving out tips, directed at both amateurs and experts.

There has also been an increase in the number of brands talking to men – and selling them products like sheet masks and foot scrubs. Attempts are being made to include men into the fold of self-care.

Also Read: Sheet Masks & Me Time: How men skincare brands break stereotypes via social media

Some brands are gamifying experiences — many instances of this could be seen during the Diwali-IPL phase last year where brands could be seen nudging their patrons to try AR filters and sharing selfies.

During Rakshabandhan last year, quite a few brands stepped up to assure customers that staying away wouldn’t come in between the joy of festivities — after all, they can simply parcel the gifts to their siblings. 

People are scared and vaccinations are pretty much all they have got on their minds — creating a space for brands to use their reach to amplify PSAs. They are helping people understand the process, in simple words. Brands are also reassuring customers about the various steps they take to ensure that safety and social distancing norms are being followed by them in the packaging and delivery process.

All said and done, the most important thing for a brand is to churn out content that makes sense to their consumers — in sync with their current mind space. This is something brands have been doing on social media. It is these little, mundane instances of home life that are being weaved into content — upping their reliability factor. ‘

Moments & Trends

For Pepsico India, the unprecedented situation presented itself as a chance to pivot their marketing and social strategy around messaging that is relatable and closely built around evolving consumer preferences. Topical posts and content on social media became the most important tool for them to keep their audiences engaged.

Home Sweet Home

Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited’s Chief Marketing Officer Sarthak Seth feels that while the cocooning period presents an incredible opportunity to most brands, extreme care should be taken so it does not result in an information overload, as that could create resentment. 

Further, he shares the brand’s perspective with their currently running #MySafeHaven campaign. “It is based on the insight of a home being a safe haven, especially during the pandemic, where one is surrounded by their loved ones,” he tells us. Apart from the communication aspects, the realty brand is also offering financial assistance to homebuyers, a key proposition in the current economic situation. 

Similarly, House of Hiranandani used customised messaging to attract and engage the right audiences — nudging them to find their perfect home. To do so, they came up with a campaign to create customised experiences for their existing as well as potential customers. 

“The objective was to tell prospective customers through the personalised videos that they have the #RightToPerfectHome. For existing residents, the objective was to acknowledge their decisions of owning a House of Hiranandani home and thus enjoying the right to a perfect home,” Prashin Jhobalia, VP — Marketing Strategy, House of Hiranandani tells us. 

As part of this campaign, thousands of hyper-personalised videos were created to remind buyers about the varied elements of a perfect home — space, safety, security, convenience, the fitness of mind and body, and luxurious living. The campaign was also promoted among a larger audience on social media along with customised videos for the platform.

PSA, But With Innovation

PSA content, essential can become quite monotonous with every organisation wanting to seem considerate, says Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited’s Sarthak Seth. He feels to stand out, brands can come up with innovative formats of communicating the same message and not just remain a static poster reminding people to, for instance, wash hands. That tends to have a better recall value as well as an impact on the consumer mindset.

For measuring RoI on PSA content, Seth tells us, “There are several factors that determine the success of a campaign, including the desired call-to-action (CTA) being communicated in the PSA. If there is no CTA. The viewership of the post can count as a good metric considering the objective with PSAs is to create awareness at a fundamental level.”

Executing the content at the right time and with the right audience is important to get a good RoI, chips in Joy Chatterjee, General Manager, Sales & Marketing, Mankind Pharma. He explains, “Before rolling out any campaign, we always strategise the content within the internal team as per our benchmarks.”

“While PSAs are supposed to bring awareness among the audience, we cannot dismiss the fact that insights come from their lives, struggles, and behaviour patterns. We try to understand their need for communication, the tone of voice, the kind of content they actively consume — so that the message is delivered loud and clear and they end up relating to it,” he adds. 

Business-As-(Un)Usual

Just as consumers face uncertainty, brands too are bracing up for a different landscape. It is business-as-unusual, says Sapna Arora, Chief Marketing Officer, OLX India, adding that if such a cocooning period is long, it’s important for brands to stay connected with consumers and to provide comfort while adopting the right tone of voice. 

“Creating a meaningful experience for the consumers is likely to pay richer dividends as a stronger connection is being formed with brands being mindful of the prevailing sentiments. We can build memory salience by engaging purposefully with the consumers, being sensitive and uplifting in our communication,” she tells us. 

During the second wave of COVID-19, OLX had opened up their social media reach to help people seeking resources and to facilitate donation drives working for the benefit of families affected due to the pandemic. 

She adds, “People can understand when brand initiatives are opportunistic rather than a genuine reflection of what the brand stands for. Tracking perceptions, market dynamics, and consumer preferences will be key to building lasting connections. Messages that are true to the brand’s unique values and identity can leave deeper impacts. Businesses need to think carefully and creatively about how the conventional marketing levers can be aligned with customer desires.”

This cocooning period seems to be working in favour of brands that have taken a relevantly empathetic approach in their communication, rendering themselves useful to their consumers through uncertain times. Things are tough for everyone but these are also times that would define the trajectory of brands as they build a loyal consumer base for themselves — people will remember the ones that kept them company when they were holed up in their homes.

With Inputs From Aishwarrya Chakraverty


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