Updated: Dec 6, 2020
Even as India and rest of the world grapple with the Covid pandemic, it has given us a lot of food for thought. While containment measures like lockdown, social distancing, wearing of masks etc. have impacted our way of Living, there has been a subtle but distinct impact on our way of Being.
What is way of Being? Though it has a far deeper meaning, here, I will restrict It to “a more conscious way of living”.
While the predominant emotions in the initial part of the pandemic were fear and helplessness, since then it has transcended into one of hope and determination. While the initial emotions were more individual in nature, the subsequent ones were more collective, beyond the individual.
This is a very significant transition and it wouldn’t have been possible without a deep inner reflection. This transition in the collective consciousness would have happened only due to change in the individual consciousness among a majority of individuals.
The isolation of individuals and families due to the lockdown provided a great opportunity for individuals to reflect on their way of Living and Being. Let’s briefly discuss the points of reflection.
1. Slowing the pace of life
In the mad rush to achieve and get things done, we have not paused to look at the wonderful things that life and nature in particular has given us. The pace had consumed so much of us that we missed observing the little things like the chirping of the birds, the beautiful colours of the flower in the garden and seeing the free spirited flight of a multi-coloured butterfly. And as we started observing and enjoying this experience, it gave us a nice cool feeling very similar to the pleasant summer morning breeze.
2. Rediscovering human relationships especially with family
The rise of individuality and the proliferation of gadgets over the past few years which aided that, had severely impacted human relations and more so the family. While the arrival of new gadgets and the ability to easily connect socially seemed a progression, deep down it had a serious damage on the individual’s ability to assess his/her own worth. It was far more Outside-In than Inside-Out. One of the forms in which it manifested was FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and one of the immediate casualties of this was “Family-Time”. As we spent time during the lockdown without any domestic help, we rediscovered the joy of doing things together as a family as we immersed ourselves in doing household chores. As we continued to be confined to our homes we realized the futility of reading and watching information/news related to the pandemic, we rediscovered ourselves by pursuing a latent talent like singing, painting etc. and also being a part of family activities like watching movies or playing games etc.
3. Moving towards more financial prudence
With higher disposable income and easier access to brands and products, the tendency to live beyond ones means was rapidly increasing. While the proliferation of apps fueled by the need for more convenience and comfort led to more consumption, it systematically made us more dependent on these utilities along with a marked increase in our total expenses. This lockdown has provided us with a good cooling period to reassess our financial priorities. With the challenges of a financial melt-down looming large, this reassessment has become inevitable. The emphasis would be on generating more savings by reducing expenses since income is likely to be diminished at least in the near foreseeable future. The reduction in expenses has started with a classification of the expenses into necessities and “would love to have’s”. However a marked shift could be the inclusion of “health” and “Insurance” in the necessities.
4. Respecting the environment
The massive exploitation of the environment has gone unchecked for many decades but fortunately the awareness about the same has also been on the rise over the past few years. While many environment protection initiatives including legislation have taken shape across the globe, these steps at best, have been small and incremental. This pandemic has shaken the world and along with that the belief in the small steps that were being taken to protect the environment. The abuse of the environment for the benefit of the human race with a consequent impact on the rest of the inhabitants has now come strongly into question. Right from its emanation to its rapid spread across the globe more so in the urban areas, this pandemic has brought this gruesome exploitation of the environment to the core.
While larger decisions would come forth at the national and global level to correct this imbalance, the awareness and actions at the individual level would go a long way in addressing this issue. Some small but decisive steps could be- reduction in consumption of bio-fuels, using more of bio-degradable products, conservation of water and electricity etc.
Impact of the change in the way of Being on brand/product consumption:
While it’s quite possible that a large section of the society might not have experienced any significant change in the way of Being, or would have experienced it very briefly, the following points could pan out in case the shift has happened.
1. Household and Individual expenditure rationalization
a. Along with spends on daily consumables, spends on health/hygiene related products would be the primary focus
b. Calibrated spending on “non-essentials”
c. Deferment of premium product purchase
d. More emphasis on Household products vis-à-vis individual
2. Increased emphasis on saving
a. Liquidity would be the key driving factor
b. Acquisition of “assets” likely to be deferred
3. More environmental conscious living
a. Focus on public health and sanitation (less garbage dumping, spitting in public places etc.)
b. Less food and water wastage
c. Gradual shift to an organic way of living
Let’s now explore the impact of the above on some key segments.
Challenge: Multiple players, manufacturing limitations and supply chain issues (including omni-channel presence)
Role of Media Planning: Since production and distribution could be severely impacted, the identification of the key target markets would be a very important factor. Since availability more than brand loyalty would be the key purchase driver, omni-media presence would be another key factor. Since communication is likely to be cluttered in this segment, cost-efficient impact executions would be a must.
Challenge: Summer season is more than half way through and there is a huge pile of inventory
Role of Media Planning: Since products should already be available in the market place, the emphasis would be reach out to maximum number of customers but at a low frequency since resources are limited.
Segment: Premium products
Impact: Severely Negative
Challenge: With serious erosion of individual income, these purchases are likely to get compromised.
Role of Media Planning: Very little or no mass media activity. Effective use of advertorials, blogs and low cost brand associations would be options worth exploring.
Segment: Short term savings instruments/Health Insurance
Challenge: Multiple players
Role of Media Planning: Since brand credibility and differentiation would be key driver, a healthy mix of reach and frequency would be the guiding factor. Omni media presence would another key factor.
The above examples illustrate the varied impact across the different segments of the market and the essence of each example is the role of media more specifically media planning in combating the new emerging scenario.
While the aim of Strategic Integrated Media Planning is always been to make the deployment of the optimum resources of any brand more effective and efficient, this role becomes more crucial and decisive in today’s challenging times!!!!