Carlton D'Silva
Guest Article

"Brands consumed in these times will get loyal customers": Carlton D'Silva, House of Awe

House of Awe's Carlton D'Silva takes a look at what life could potentially look like in India, once the lockdown ends.

With the COVID-19 disrupting normalcy the world over, one has adapted to the beat of their ability to maintain a normal life (well, as much as they can get close to it). I do believe that moving past the lockdown, the world will be looking at the new normal born out of disruption, uncertainty and adaptation. Here is a look at what I believe are the changes we will see post lockdown on the road to normalcy.

1. Overt consciousness of spending

This is a very obvious one. Whilst we might have been cautious of the kind of spends we were doing, the pandemic will drive most of us into an overcautious mode and restrict our spending to just the necessities. Luxury spending will take a huge hit and it might just lead to rectification of product pricing. With a lot of jobs being lost or salaries being cut due to the lockdown, people will be strapped for cash and I believe it will take at least a year to reach normalcy for most (if not more).

Carlton D'Silva
Carlton D'Silva

2. Personal transportation over public transportation

Whilst the spending will reduce exponentially, I believe there will be a rise in investment in personal transportation. Owning your own transport might just take precedence because of the fear of contraction. Public transport will need to make a fair bit of changes to attract its usual audience as, if not done right, it will be under threat of losing a fair bit of business. Prepaid cabs, too, might take a big hit as they will have to convince their customers that it is safe to ride with them again. And, they will need to do that convincing through actions.

This might just give a much-needed boost to the auto industry as, if this prediction turns out to be true, people will be queuing up to pick up their own mode of transportation. What might aid the auto industry is the drop in oil prices that might just make owning a personal mode of transportation a lot more desirable than before. The fallout of that, increase in pollution and road traffic, which hopefully the next point will solve.

3. Reduction of travel

With the world trying to adapt to the lockdown, agencies and clients have both taken up to video conferencing. By the time the lockdown is over, this mode of communication will reduce the amount of travel substantially. I believe it's a good thing as one just gets more efficient with their time and (it) reduces the wastage of time due to back and forth travel to get a meeting done. Air travel, too, will be reduced to only essential travel and this should continue for about a year post lockdown. Most people would rather be safe than sorry. This would give rise to some awesome deals in travel to tempt travellers to do more travel (which most people will give in to because we are suckers for a good deal when it comes to travel).

4. Temperature scanning at the airports

When the world was hit by terrorism, we were introduced to stringent security checks at the airports. Post pandemic, add another check to the list. Get ready to have your temperature checked before heading to security, and before alighting the plane. If you thought there were way too many checks before you get to sit in the plane, now imagine this step at both the departing and arrival city. Hey, but it's for your own good and for the good of others, so, we just have to suck it up and live with it, at least till we come up with a vaccine.

5. The face mask - a new fashion accessory

You will soon be habituated to picking up your face mask just the way you pick up the keys to your home when you leave. This will give rise to designer versions of the same and very soon, you might just add gloves, too. So, expect a lot of fashion houses to come up with their own collection of the same and, you never know, you might just see it sported on the premiere fashion shows.

6. A sneeze, cough or a sniffle becomes taboo

You might just have to be a bit more careful not to sneeze, cough or even sniffle in public because if you do, you might just be looked at like an untouchable. To be honest, this one started before the lockdown and just as the Coronavirus became known to the world, but now looks of suspicion will be deadlier and more severe. I pity the people that suffer from allergies.

7. Elevation of personal hygiene

Things that you should have done before, in terms of personal hygiene, now become the norm because of the ramifications. We all should wash our hands as often as possible. We might not do the 20-second routine, but we will be more habituated to the thought of it now that we have been doing it for over a month (and reminded so often if we forget). Pocket hand sanitisers will be another thing that most people will have with them at all points in time, and if you ask me, it's much better than washing your hands with soap every now and then. At least we can try and save water when we use them. I hope spitting becomes a thing of the past. I hope we put a ban on spitting and (impose) a hefty fine on those who do spit.

8. Social distancing making us more social

One thing that social distancing has done to us is make us a lot more social. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and there is no better example to illustrate that line than the situation that we are in today. People are getting to know exactly how many people live with them. They are beginning to speak with them. They are beginning to check on their old parents. They are checking on family and friends in faraway countries. They are helping their neighbours. They are also using social media for becoming more social. Who would have predicted that?

9. A deeper sense of loyalty

I always believe that people are most loyal to those who help them in a crisis. Before the pandemic, your local grocery store was under threat of closing down its business due to the mega-stores. During the lockdown, you are now dependant on them. I have never seen my local grocery store do so much of business. Not just that, I feel the sense of loyalty that this interaction has built in needy times will go a long way, and I feel the grocery stores will be gratified with loyalty for years to come. I also feel that the brands that the consumers consume in these times will get loyal customers, too. It's a great time to introduce your brands to prospective buyers if their usual brand is not available for purchase in a bid to garner new customers from your rivals.

10. Online education gets a boost

With schools on lockdown mode, education needs to continue so that the students don’t lose a year. The education sector has innovated and has started online classrooms, and children will just get used to the way things are taught without a teacher being physically present. This brings about a great opportunity for the e-learning sector and I feel you will see a surge in its business in the years to come. Digital marketing has been the only advertising and marketing industry used since the lockdown. It goes without saying that marketing in this medium has been instrumental in keeping communication to end consumers alive. Whilst the marketing budgets might just skew towards the digital medium, I believe it's an opportune time to showcase the power of the medium and create some disruptive and innovative campaigns.

(The author is the co-founder of House of Awe - a media agnostic communication agency that specialises in brand, entertainment and experiential marketing.)