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Beyond the Transaction: Every Transaction Has a Story

Let us prepare for a new normal in marketing

LinkedIn Blog by Manasi Narasimhan, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, South Asia, Mastercard

Let us prepare for a new normal in marketing

The last few months have been extremely challenging for everyone while dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. As of today, the Government of India has committed for a dual war, i.e., saving lives and bringing the economy back on track (Jaan Bhi Jahan Bhi). Since businesses are an integral part of economy (Jahan), it is now imperative for marketers to reassess our responsibilities, as we reach out to consumers keeping in mind the new normal. As a marketer, I believe that marketing will go through a massive change, not an evolution but mutation (a rapid, long lasting change to the DNA).

Below are some of the effects of this mutation: –

From ‘buy-now’ messages to empathy – Consumers never had the patience and mind space for cacophonic ‘buy now’ clarion call from marketers. However, circumstances surrounding Covid-19 have made it even more important for marketers to be sensitive in their outreach to consumers. There will always be a time to sell. Currently, the time is to serve the world that needs us. And if we cannot serve, at least let us not be opportunistic and push those especially tailored products around Covid-19.

Regional languages in communications – During lockdown, Indians had the opportunity to spend time on social media like never before. Be it fitness and beauty lessons, their favorite recipe, tips on managing work from home, or staying tuned with the latest news and views, social media has been the preferred medium. This means that most non-English speaking users also can express themselves in the digital world through regional language content. As per a KPMG-Google report, Indian language internet users are expected to account for nearly 75% of India’s internet user base by 2021. The report also states that majority of the next 200 million users will come from tier 2+ cities who prefer to consume content in vernacular languages. This is an important opportunity for marketers who aim to broad-base their consumer outreach to Pan-India. For instance, Mastercard has a goal to equip 10 million merchants with digital payments acceptance infrastructure by 2020-21. An important step towards this objective is to strengthen financial education and inclusion in the country. We are also strengthening awareness about safety, security, and ease of digital payments in tier 2 and 3 cities. Regional languages make this communication much more personalized and impactful.

Painting the ad-world to match the real world – It is a perpetual debate- whether the society inspires ads or ads inspire the society. I believe it is a two-way street. As our surroundings change in the post Covid-19 world, it is important to change the way we depict the world in our ads. For example, will characters in our ads adhere to social distancing? Will they wear a mask? Will we show crowded spots? These are some delicate questions that marketers need to answer in the coming days. If we project an ad-world which is completely different from the real world, the ads will never resonate with the consumers.

Do not miss out on brand safety – With unprecedented volumes of data and the associated responsibilities, marketers need to become brand evangelists, instead of brand custodians. At the same time, they need to watch out for several risks including cybersecurity, data privacy, consumers’ backlash, socio-cultural nuisances and so on. These risks will further grow in the post Covid-19 world. Therefore, the time is to be more prepared and proactive.