No business or industry has ever faced a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. When hardly any one’s buying anything luxe, how do brands and companies engage with their consumers and what should the marketing teams do to push those conversations?
Jagdeep Kapoor, Founder, Chairman and Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants says that the answer is the 4R
strategy: Resilience, Responsive, Relevance and Responsibility. Luxury brands must be Resilient. They must stick to their ethos, positioning, quality and image. They need to be Responsive in reaching out to customers, in informing them about their timings, service, any charity or special help that they are offering. The Relevance of their product category has to be integrated into their
messaging whether it be retail, hospitality, beauty, fashion or automobile.
Lastly, Responsibility must be shown in terms of cleanliness and sanitation in their showrooms or premises. “The brands that use social media, WhatsApp and SMS for regular advertising and customer engagement will be remembered,” says Kapoor. There are many out there that have impressed us with their innovative approach and solutions to their marketing and sales strategies.
Food and service Indian Hotels Company Limited’s Taj hotels have won hearts by opening their premises for doctors. A few of their properties such as the Taj Mahal Palace in South Mumbai and Taj Lands End in Bandra, Mumbai, have opened their laundry service for everyone. These hotels are also offering bread baskets and spa products. Although, home delivery service isn’t available yet.
Similarly, Kitchen Garden by Suzette, a café chain, has been selling salad hampers to its customers who rather cook at home than risking a home delivery during the lockdown.
Best known for its organic, vegan friendly, farm-to-fork menu, Sequel, the restaurant brand founded by Vanika Choudhary, is offering farm-fresh produce from the Sequel Greenhouse, a few hours outside of Mumbai, until both outlets in Kala Ghoda
and Bandra, reopen for dine-in operations.
A positive narrative Fashion brand AMPM is re-focusing some of its campaigns and concentrating on pure brand awareness. “This is the time when people are not looking to buy, and so instead of deluging them with ads, we are planning to use a softer approach by just educating them about us, what we stand for, the finer details of the brand, which otherwise go unnoticed,” says Priyanka Modi, Creative Director AMPM.
The brand has also become more conversational on its social media platforms. “As staying home is a large part of what we are
supposed to be doing, we are now running an ‘AMPM Recommends’ series, which curates interesting ideas and things-to-do whilst being at home. The idea is to encourage people to be
productive and joyful, and, of course, stay at home!” The focus is on a positive narrative, which is determined by virtual showrooming, styling sessions/online master-classes, curating gift
cards, which cab be used post-crisis “but works as the much-needed retail therapy.”
Their marketing plan also emphasises on the future, and in that direction, AMPM is rearranging priorities to navigate the upcoming recession, detailing initiatives to help rebuild revenues post Corona. “These are being created to deflect the pressure of deep discounting,” says Modi. They are also replanning the launch of their new capsule collection. “The right timing is very important.”
The tech way
In the art world, auction house Sotheby’s shifted some of its spring auctions online. It also debuted a new e-catalogue experience featuring enhanced visual storytelling through video and interactive media. “…Sotheby’s has invested heavily in
technology to ensure that we have the very best digital tools in the market place – including our propriety online sales platform – which we are using to benefit and support our client,” said Charles Stewart, CEO, Sotheby’s in a press statement.
The National Centre for Performing Arts has been uploading the recordings of its performances on its YouTube channel for people to watch at home.
Similarly, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya has been sending out free e-copies of their historical books and also conducting arts and crafts classes online.
Beauty and wellness brands are urging people to indulge in self-care through social media. In the absence of brick and mortar stores, Kama Ayurveda too has taken to social media. “It has become our biggest touch point to inform consumers about the precautions they can take and the beauty tips and regimes they can follow,” says Vivek Sahni, Founder of Kama Ayurveda.
The brand’s Ayurveda experts are also sharing information on ways to build immunity and stay healthy during the pandemic. Additionally, they are assembling a home delivery system, through which the brand’s discerning consumer’s preferred products will be delivered to his/her home after the lockdown ends. Mussadiq Merchant, Director, Fashion Identity Pvt. Ltd (Nashi Argan India) is cashing in on the opportunity to live clean. “Being a truly Italian sustainable brand, it prides us to see that nature has hit the reset button and the air is much purer, the waters clearer and people are leading a more conscious, fruitful life. If we can use this as a testament and make smarter choices, we can do better for our future generations.”
The White Door spa has shifted its focus from service to retail and is also banking on self-care. “We have started sharing tips and
suggestions with people to try at home (on social media platforms). From face masking, while you work from home, to using jade rollers to relax your face muscles and boost circulation
and the use of body scrubs to ensure you feel your Sunday best, every day, The White Door India would like to remind people to be mindful and not to neglect their hygiene and health during this time,” says Sana Dhanani- Founder & Managing Director, The White Door India.
Amongst the most active online players during the lockdown is the fitness sector. Mallika Parekh’s Physique 57, a barre studio has been conducting workout sessions on the Zoom app and has also monetized it.
Outside India, the Washinton DC Tourism has amped their game with armchair travel. They have created and made available to netizens virtual tours of many of the city’s attractions. These are
the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gardens, The Smithsonian National Zoo, The National Portrait Gallery, the Cherry Blossom Festival and
the John F Kennedy Center of Performing Arts.
BLADE India, a helicopter taxi service, has taken the music route to make their presence felt while their flights are suspended. They have curated a number of songs in a collection that is available on Spotify, a music app. Blade India has linked music with travel, highlighting its on-board music experience with high-end Boss speakers installed inside the chopper for every passenger.
The important thing is to be consistent and not give up. “After all, in these tough times, customers will remember brands that were trying to give world-class products and services despite the challenges. Luxury brands need to be LUXE and not LAX,” says Kapoor.