• Dialogue Communications

Brand Strategies to Promote Empathy and Stay on Consumer Radar

The spread of the COVID-19 that happened almost simultaneously in every country in the world today has suddenly put many industries in a devastated condition. In order to survive on the surface, several companies from various industry backgrounds decided to turn the boat around from making marketing approach, restructuring asset investment to collaborating with competitors.

Rahul Sachitanand from Campaign Asia suggested that under normal circumstances, these three things usually have to go through a very long weighing process to come to an agreement. However, to keep the business alive, changes need to be made in a very short period of time. Some brands that have implemented this change of strategy include players in the smartphone industry, sportswear, insurance to consumer goods.

Each brand owned by several companies shows that amid a crisis, the formation of the strategy must have two important elements, namely the need to make a strong presence in giving a social contribution and the effort to maintain the long-term goal of the business, which is to gain profits.

These two elements are well adapted by some companies in their short and medium-term brand strategies such as the smartphone manufacturer Oppo. Oppo changed the launch scheme of the OPPO Find X2 flagship mobile phone into a live broadcast simultaneously in China and Barcelona. This digital-based launch was watched by at least 160 million people. Other brands like the insurance companies, Manulife and AIA, managed to promote their products wrapped in social messages and calls for optimism and respect for the health workers.

A strong successful message to encourage people to look after each other was also well delivered by the sanitation product brand Dettol in India. They created a challenge of washing hands on one of the most popular social media platforms at the moment, TikTok. This campaign received 18 billion views and got more than 123,000 user-generated videos. 

In fact, there was an unusual step taken by Hindustan Unilever that created a campaign on printed media to invite 1.3 billion residents in the quarantine area (lockdown) to diligently wash their hands. In the campaign, the company also deliberately mentioned some of the competing brands such as Lux, Dettol and Santoor, and invited local residents to wash their hands often using sanitation products from any brands to avoid virus contagion.

Each of the company's actions above shows that when going through a crisis, a company must be responsive in catching the slightest opportunity. When brand strategies collaborate with other brands or parties, that does not necessarily make the brand losing a group of customers. On the contrary, this strategy is seen as tactical steps to keep the consumers engaged with the brand image even though the decision to make a purchase is still within measures.

The companies also need to show responsiveness to the real conditions of their target markets. The real impact of the economic slowdown, the decline in purchasing power, and the reduction in labor force have encouraged the companies to set more reasonable standards using a marketing strategy that involves a sense of empathy and motivation for mutual care. 

As a result, these companies will still be able to keep their businesses open within a minimum standard. They don’t have to lose one hundred percent of their initial achievement targets or stop their operational activities.

It is difficult to neglect the fact that even to reach this stage, companies have to make a number of adjustments here and there. These include trimming expenditure items, tightening budgets, and even pivoting the business model might be the most rational option at this time. 

Specifically, companies tend to hold too much information out to the public in difficult situations. The brands above tend to carefully keep the information before sending it to public to serve the right purpose of delivering the message and good communication.

Communication to the public needs to be well thought and arranged. As simple business activitity such as selling smartphones needs to be seen as a form of appreciation for the community's commitment to protect themselves by staying at home. In conclusion, communication plays a great essential role for the companies to deliver the brands’ goals and to stay on top of the radar of their market.

Written by: Neily Cholida

Every business owner surely has a rule-of-thumb when doing their daily operational business. Yet, having a go-to plan is not always work, especially when you are facing a great storm. As public relations agency, we are keen to promote flexibility partnership with our clients as we are for sure understand how tough it is to build and sustain the ship. While you are enjoying our write-up, do let us know should you need further discussion on how to rejuvenate the communications strategy when the rainbow comes at last.

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