Challenges marketers are going to face in 2021

– Prof. Prithwiraj Mukherjee, Marketing IIMB

Marketing plays a key role in stimulating demand for goods and services.

As India reels under the impact of this disease and its associated healthcare challenges, businesses and the government must collaborate to revive the limping economy.

The covid-19 pandemic has been a global disaster like no other. The last eight months, since the first lockdown in March 2020 have seen economic activity disrupted like nothing else. As India reels under the impact of this disease and its associated healthcare challenges, businesses and the government must collaborate to revive the limping economy. Marketing plays a key role in stimulating demand for goods and services, many of whose value chains have been severely disrupted.

Here are five major marketing concerns for 2021, in light of the ongoing covid-19
pandemic.

  1. (Re)building customer relationships: Professor Christine Moorman of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business conducts the annual chief marketing officer (CMO) survey, and this year’s outlook is predictably bleak, even though many reports
    the increased importance their firms have afforded to their marketing departments.
    While this survey is of American CMOs, their current concerns should mirror their
    Indian counterparts’ as well. This year, these CMOs report major dips in sales
    revenues and customer acquisition, with consumer-facing companies hit harder than
    their business-facing counterparts. They report consumers as being more price-sensitive and less loyal than before, with the development of trusting relationships
    with customers emerging as their top priority. Not only do relationships need to be
    developed, but also existing relationships that were interrupted by the pandemic
    need to be revitalized, for example, in the hospitality, travel, and corporate training
    sectors.
  1. Retail: India’s industries themselves have seen mixed fates since the pandemic’s
    onset. Sectors involving discretionary spending and physical interaction have
    naturally been hit the hardest. These include aviation, ridesharing, hospitality, and
    physical retail. On the other hand, online retail, online education, and food delivery
    have seen an upturn in their fortunes. Brick and mortar retailers, especially those in
    malls, are likely to be affected as long as the specter of covid-19 looms over India –
    designed to soothe customers in calm, air-conditioned spaces encouraging
    extensive product trials, these retailers have now lost their edge over their online
    counterparts. To compensate for their dwindling footfall, these retailers could explore
    short-term tie-ups with online delivery partners wherever possible (Dunzo and some
    food delivery players like Swiggy and Uber Eats who now also deliver groceries
    along with their traditional restaurant deliveries). Offering consumers discounts is
    another short-term tactic that may be explored, but with the associated risk of
    reduction in brand image, especially in premium segments.
  1. Salesforce management: Pharmaceuticals, equipment manufacturers and
    enterprise service providers often rely on salespersons who directly meet potential
    buyers and clients. Much of this has been disrupted, thanks to the temporary work-from-home policies of many large institutional buyers – often talking to multiple
    stakeholders like top management, procurement managers, financial approvers, and
    actual end-users within these organizations. While many of these meetings may
    have shifted online, often affecting the efficacies of salespeople with decades of
    experience selling via offline personal meetings.
  1. Consumer protection: Covid-19 has unfortunately led to many unethical advertisers
    targeting vulnerable consumers with misleading, and occasionally blatantly false
    claims. While many of these are about Ayurvedic cures for the coronavirus, others
    include claims of corona-resistant paint and clothing and even immunity-boosting
    confectioneries. The Advertising Standards Council of India upheld complaints
    against 90% of 317 reported advertisements in August and September 2020 alone.
    Beyond covid-19 as well, consumers are increasingly falling prey to many scams via
    misleading and false advertising in domains as diverse as education tech, banking
    and healthcare.
  1. Digital marketing – a double-edged sword: Marketers are gung-ho about digital
    advertising. With the growing reach of social media thanks to falling costs of internet access, the ability to send targeted ads based on someone’s personal characteristics and past behavior on search boxes and social media are indeed something that traditional ads on TV, newspapers and radio never afforded. However, consumers and regulators alike realize the implications of this and have been pushing for increased restrictions on both access and usage of personal data for targeted
    advertising. Alongside this, digital marketers are threatened by widespread fraud
    arising from influencers buying fake followers, and app makers using botnets to
    mimic real users, and cheating advertisers of their ad budgets Naïve advertisers may
    be misled by a large number of likes, retweets and comments on their social media
    content, while in reality, these may be coming from shady click farms paid to do so.
    Digital marketers need to figure out ways to deal with both privacy concerns and
    fraud to ensure advertising reach and effectiveness. While this is not directly related
    to covid-19, this issue is one of the utmost importance to marketers.

Source: Financial Express