Staying in touch with consumers and keeping them entertained with relatable content helped Parle build a strategy that would survive the pandemic. Mayank Shah, Parle Products shares how this was achieved.
The year that went by was a lesson in finding things to do when one is confined in a small space. It led people to find innovative ways to keep themselves busy by indulging in activities like cooking and for FMCG brands like Parle to pivot their social media strategy to communicate with people on a more personal level — and become a part of their pandemic lives. They could talk about brand relevance by giving out recipes that could be tried with their products as well as let people know that they aren’t going through these tough times alone.
Interestingly, given the nostalgia-related possibilities with Rol-a-Cola content, which could instantly light up faces, this product was featured significantly through the lockdown. It was in perfect sync with the overarching theme, which was all about warmth.
However bad the times were, they brought along the opportunity for brands to connect with people on a deeper level, seeping into their daily lives in ways like never before. As consumers kept safe at home, in-home consumption saw a drastic increase. People were binging on biscuits and salty snacks as well as treating themselves by ordering food online.
According to Mayank Shah, Senior Category Head at Parle Products, the resulting situation made brands take a relook at not just their distribution strategies but also their communication.
“Practically speaking, during a crisis we need to be sensitive; holding on to major announcements during the current environment can lead to negative effects on consumers’ intent to purchase or towards the brand. Brand legacy, the ability to identify with consumers’ needs with rapidly changing times is paramount,” Shah explains.
Parle’s Pandemic Strategy
Parle’s brand legacy and the team’s ability to identify consumer needs and to pivot according to rapidly changing times helped them stay afloat during the pandemic. Given the extent of Parle’s product portfolio, the team was able to tap into recipe-related content to stay in touch with their consumers. They urged them to use Parle products to try innovative recipes throughout the lockdown period. These efforts were clubbed under #BuildARecipePicks, where Parle shared simple recipes submitted by consumers — dishes that could be easily whipped up with their products.
Parle’s communication strategy in the pandemic included two key ingredients: transparency and empathy. The team had to rethink what they were doing and look for ways to communicate with their stakeholders, evaluating and adapting as necessary. “We are very grounded in terms of what we believe in as a brand and make sure we keep building on the trust that the consumers have had in us for decades,” Shah explained.
The brand took topical formats and infused their products into the creative idea of the posts they put on social media. So if the conversation was around board games, they would remind people to keep snacks around when they sit to play with their families. For work from home scenarios, Parle products became companions to satiate snack cravings. Puns were created from the names of Parle’s sub-brands, helping them pepper their content with elements of fun.
Staying In Touch
“At Parle Products, we utilised media communication to highlight the initial challenges that we were facing in manufacturing — these messages reached the government authorities quickly and were addressed on priority for efficient FMCG goods supply to urban and the remotest areas of India during the lockdown,” Shah tells us.
Communicating about their supply and distributions channels helped Parle assure consumers that they wouldn’t have to hoard biscuits as a measure to plan for the lockdown.
Being transparent about their woes helped the brand ensure that customers wouldn’t resort to panic-buying or hoarding — a benefit of constant communication. Shah tells us, “Our marketing strategy has evolved to match evolving consumer sentiments, bringing in a measure of emotional intelligence and personalisation to our messaging. This humanised messaging ensures that we are in constant touch with our consumers.”