Aishwarya Ramesh

"Digital adoption is accelerated across sectors now": Ajit Mohan, Facebook

The marketing playbook has changed drastically because of the Coronavirus, and marketers need to adapt to keep up and capture customers' attention.

The Coronavirus has changed the way the world works. This includes the locations we work from, the number of hours we work, and the business models itselves that the companies are based on. This was the theme of the webinar conducted by the Mobile Marketing Association of India – ‘New business models that are shaping the future in the digital era’. The discussion was spearheaded by Rohit Dadwal, managing director of MMA, APAC, and saw participation from Ajit Mohan, VP and MD of Facebook India. The conversation was centred on the importance of digital adaption to the changing times, the need for businesses to stay connected, and how small and medium businesses could use Facebook’s tools to accelerate growth. Here are the Top 10 takeaways from the webinar.

1. Digital adoption has been accelerated across all sectors – even with traditional companies that may have normally taken more time to digitise their operations. Healthcare and education are two examples of this phenomenon – now, increasingly, classes are going online and doctor’s appointments are going virtual.

2. There has been a major emergence of hyperlocal models. The world, as we knew it, was deeply connected, but all that has been paused for now. This leads to a greater dependence on local goods, produce and so on. Some hyperlocal businesses that have popped up may not survive after the pandemic ends, but it has definitely put a spotlight on local businesses.

"Digital adoption is accelerated across sectors now": Ajit Mohan, Facebook

3. Experiences are going online, too, now. There will be a lot of emphasis in the coming months on how we can use technology to live out an experience, as if people were in the same room together.

4. On a regular day, if a new product was introduced, you’d have to go through rituals of awareness building till one can close the loop with a customer making a purchase. Going forward, there will be a lot of energy around the creation of new enterprises, ventures, and business models.

5. Marketers have always been fairly conservative about using the digital medium to build brands, but that’s where all the consumers are. There is a whole new opportunity to use digital as a vehicle for brand building at this point of time. We’re currently living in a world where people are spending a lot more time online, than they used to.

6. The disruptions that companies are experiencing are radically changing the playbook. Many marketers used to go by a playbook that might have been written in, say, the 1990s, and they used that as a reference on how to acquire customers. Marketers need to be dispassionate about giving up things that were of value to the company – across large and small businesses.

7. Most offline business models tend to cater to the top end of the income stack in different countries. With the digitisation of sectors, such as education, the tremendous positive force that is the digital medium can, in some way, ensure the democratisation of access to good healthcare or education.

8. Jio has made internet accessible to nearly 500 million Indians across the country, and it has, in a sense, democratised access to internet – which was very limited in the past. This fits with the greater adoption of the digital medium once the pandemic began, and many sectors went online to stay afloat.

9. Many of Facebook’s tools (such as features on Instagram and WhatsApp) can make selling easier, and can help facilitate operations for small businesses.

10. There will be a greater adoption of cashless transactions in future, and small and medium businesses would do well to keep up...

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