Swati Rathi, head of marketing, Godrej Appliances, talks about how the cooling category will change, post lockdown.
Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, we at afaqs! have had the opportunity to speak with marketing heads across categories. We spoke to them about how the lockdown has affected their business, their experience of working from home, and the changes they foresee in the market when all this ends. Our list so far includes names like Prathyusha Agarwal, chief consumer officer, ZEEL; Puneet Das, vice president marketing - beverages India at Tata Consumer Products; Tarun Jha, head of marketing and product at Škoda India; Shashank Srivastava, ED, Maruti Suzuki India…
With the lockdown now being extended till May 3, we chatted with Swati Rathi, head of marketing, Godrej Appliances. Rathi joined Godrej Appliances in 2006 in the marketing function. Over the next nine years, she took on various responsibilities. In 2015, she was promoted to head – marketing. In her current role, she oversees all aspects of marketing – communication and media, public relations, digital and ground presence... Here are her responses:
Once the lockdown is lifted, what will be your big priorities?
Summer is a critical period for cooling categories, and forms a big chunk of appliance sales. Given that we may have a very short summer window left, all brands in the sector will be looking at delivering relevant propositions in the post COVID-19 scenario, and maximising conversions. While online presence will definitely be a key attention area, we will also be focusing on helping our widespread offline partner base to cater to their customers digitally. Reassuring our customers about the precautions being taken by the brand across verticals - sales and service, will also need to be prioritised.
Will your market behave the way it was before the lockdown, or will there be subtle changes?
Post lockdown, there will be countering forces at play. While on the one hand, consumers will need to buy appliances for their comfort, on the other, social distancing norms and overall pandemic fear are expected to keep them away from stores for some time. There is also the added uncertainty around lockdown withdrawal, given that the scenario is dynamic. The economic uncertainty will play a role in consumer sentiment. A change in consumers' investment priorities is also expected. Therefore, buying behaviour, both in terms of purchase behaviour and value propositions being sought, is clearly expected to go through changes in the coming times.
Will your broad view of marketing communication be different from before, in some way?
Communication that is relevant, authentic, credible and empathetic, while being sensitive to the changes that our consumers are undergoing, is going to be a key focus area. While we do all this, marketing (promotion) communication will also have to be extremely hard-nosed and revenue-driven.