Leverage Social Media To Drive Brand Discovery and Boost Sales This Festive Season
*This is in partnership with BloombergQuint BrandStudio
With digital acceleration like never before, industry experts recommend marketers to drive brand discovery to win this festive season.
It’s that time of the year when the celebrations commence. And this year will be witness to a unique festive season with the prolonged impact of the pandemic. Due to the economic uncertainty, the consumers are expected to be measured in their category choices. There is an increasing value-seeking behavior, with a preference for trusted brands. Brands need to nudge consumers and get into their consideration set, on the media platforms where the consumers are spending a lot of time. With digital acceleration like never before, discovery, inspiration and purchase is all happening on mobile. Facebook family of apps with wide scale and deep penetration offer opportunities to marketers to get discovered in new ways. Around 80% of Gen Z and Millennial consumers, say their festive shopping is influenced by Facebook and Instagram.
Industry experts recommend marketers to leverage social media for driving brand discovery this season. In this light, industry leaders from Facebook, Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Samsung, and Lenovo have shared insights about driving brand discovery, understanding evolving consumer media habits, newer consumer experiences, and building the capability of digital commerce.
This festive season is a unique one. How are marketers planning to tap into the festive buoyancy, especially in the auto sector?
Shashank Srivastava: The coming festive season is very crucial for making up for the volumes lost in the first quarter. However, it’s a known fact that in unprecedented times such as the ones we are witnessing today, consumers gravitate towards trusted, reliable brands and seek value more than discounts. With more than 500 million internet users in India today, and more and more time being spent on the net, digital has come of age. At Maruti Suzuki we have been treating digital as our mainstream media. We are geared towards using digital during the upcoming festive season and so are our dealers and regional offices.
Tell us your views on the festive demand for automobiles this year. What is the marketing approach to tap consumers in this season and drive growth?
Tarun Garg: The Indian automobile market has predominantly been very resilient in the past, and even under the current challenging circumstances, we have witnessed a reasonably strong demand across various segments. Keeping social distancing norms in consideration, customers are opting for personal mobility, while also fulfilling aspirational needs of owning their favourite Hyundai car. As we draw nearer to the festive season, we have witnessed strong growth in demand and our super performer brands such as CRETA, VENUE, GRAND i10 NIOS, AURA, and ELITE i20 have recorded phenomenal customer interest and demand. As the penetration of internet access increases across regions in India, we have adapted our marketing mix to ensure good coverage across digital mediums as well. We see customers discovering brands on platforms such as Facebook, and being pre-decided about their choices. For example, the enquiry-to-retail time was about 20 days earlier, and this has now come down to 9 days. We are adopting digital mediums to simplify the purchase experience and being a progressive brand, we introduced India’s most comprehensive end-to-end car buying digital platform - ‘Click To Buy’. The program facilitates end-to-end online car buying for consumers and enables them to digitally complete the entire purchase of the car, including availing of financing options from partner banks.
How are you gearing up for the festive season? Do you expect changes in consumer behaviors in the purchase process, and their expectations from mobiles?
Asim Warsi: We are observing a new normal. Post the country-wide lockdown, there was unmet demand for smartphones initially, which resulted in strong offtakes from the stores. There is a heightened awareness among consumers towards digital commerce and a safer retail buying environment. We recognize this situation and we are geared up to service our customers through digital touch points. Our digital spends have increased, and we are creating opportunities for consumers to experience products through newer technologies such as AR/VR.
What are the significant consumer trends which will influence the buying behaviour in this festive season?
Prasanjeet Dutta Baruah: Digital influence has increased significantly in the post-Covid world. The importance of discovery and salience has heightened, with up to 70% of auto consumers are expected to finalise the model before going to the dealership, which is significant. In the case of mobiles, 70% of urban consumers are expected to be digitally influenced. So marketers need to continue to drive brand discovery on social media where the consumers are spending more time. As per the recent studies, the time spent on smartphones is around 3-3.5 hours per day, and with 400 million Indians on the Facebook Family of Apps, we play a significant role in the consumer path-to-purchase.
At Maruti Suzuki, what are the new consumer trends impacting your marketing decisions?
Shashank Srivastava: We witnessed many remarkable consumer trends emerge during the pandemic. The biggest ones are the consciousness about health and safety, reliance on trusted brands and acceleration of digital adoption. Due to safety concerns, showroom visits have dropped and consumers today prefer contactless experiences. We have been very active in utilizing the digital consumer touchpoints. Some critical touch points like taking a test drive and arranging for finance, which required contacting the dealer physically, are today getting digitized. More than 90% of our dealers are already digitized and we have more than 3,000 digital assets. The dealers run local geo-targeted campaigns to help the consumers discover them online.
With consumers making purchase decisions from home, how are you enabling them with the purchase process in this festive season?
Tarun Garg: Driving enquiries through digital platforms, we get scale at an optimum cost. In partnership with Facebook and Instagram, we started leveraging influencers extensively for some of key marketing tasks. The role of trade media and influencers is also vital in offering expert advice to customers. Through these activities, we are able to reach out to our target audiences, communicating key messages and have seen strong results on brand salience and favourability. Such campaigns have helped create the right buzz about our products. Further, through our ‘Click To Buy’ platform, customers can now easily book and purchase their car of choice, right from the safety and comfort of their homes. This initiative is unlike any other in the industry as it seamlessly connects customers to dealerships, and even enables them to virtually consult with sales executives through online video conferencing.
How are you leveraging social media to drive commerce in this season?
Asim Warsi: We are keenly trying to evolve the new consumer experience in retail stores by helping our partners go digital. There is a rapid movement towards digitized experiences for retail consumers. We worked with Facebook to help our retail partners to digitize, by helping them create Facebook business profiles. With the help of Facebook, we trained over 1,000 retail partners to go out there and understand Facebook marketing. We leveraged Facebook family of apps heavily for our product launches and marquee campaigns. The future is about smart shopping, and Samsung, as one of the most trusted electronics brands in the country, is catalyzing this change to smart shopping.
With increasing digital influence in the auto sector, do you think the marketing spend on digital will go up this festive season?
Shashank Srivastava: We are continuously increasing digital spends to connect with digital customers. Currently, we are spending a third of our advertising spend on digital, up from just about 5% four years ago. These are likely to grow further during the festive season. We follow a full funnel approach on Facebook and Instagram. For festive campaigns like ‘Ghar Aaya Tyohaar’ we would like to focus on reach; at the same time we continue to drive leads though our hyperlocal strategy. We are working on building a single view of customer (SVOC), and connect with them on platforms which are relevant to them. Digital offers us an opportunity to create consumer cohorts and drive personalization at scale. By using Facebook’s sharp targeting capabilities, we can help the relevant consumers discover their loved brands.
Brand advocacy plays a vital role in the mobiles category, which is reliant on the new launches and product upgrades. What are Samsung’s plans to drive advocacy?
Asim Warsi: Brand advocacy on digital becomes more important than ever, with reduced physical touch points. Through Influencers, who are our brand advocates, we keep the sentiment positive, and drive more consumer interactions. We partnered with Instagram to leverage influencers for a new launch. The team at Facebook enabled this program, by educating influencers about the best practices in creating content and being on the brand platform. The campaign was a big success, and we will continue to drive this more in this festive season.
How can Facebook help the businesses unlock growth this festive season?
Prasanjeet Dutta Baruah: From pre-launch, to generating buzz during the launch, and post launch lead generation activities, Facebook offers a full suite of solutions across the funnel. Our virtual launch toolkit, helps marketers to leverage tools like AR/VR and simulate the touch and feel experience. The influencer ecosystem is critical to the smartphone and auto industry, and Instagram and Facebook platforms are a natural habitat for influencers. Branded content ads enable marketers to scale up influencer content to a wider audience. We have conversational commerce solutions, with tools like click to Whatsapp, click to Messenger, enable this conversation, and help consumers in the purchase process. Finally, we have a comprehensive measurement stack to help marketers measure true incremental outcomes.
There has been an increase in demand in recent times for laptops with continued work from home trend. What’s your outlook for the festive season?
Amit Doshi: The demand surge for laptops is expected to continue because of learn-from-home and new work-from-home habits, and this demand will only be amplified in the festive season. Consumers are looking forward to the festive buying, and it’s an opportunity for brands to uplift consumer sentiments by letting consumers shop and experience their loved brands. Our marketing approach is increasingly pivoted to digital platforms which enable us to reach the right target audience and customize our communication to them. With lower data costs, video consumption is rising, and we leverage social videos on Facebook to drive brand salience and drive discovery of the products based on their interests.
With high digital dependence of consumers, how are you engaging with your customers differently this year?
Amit Doshi: The digital and social media acceleration gives us an opportunity to connect with consumers in ways like never before. We have consistently leveraged influencers for our key campaigns, both for Lenovo Legion and Lenovo Yoga, on Facebook and Instagram. Influencers are authentic voices, who can help consumers take informed decisions. Recently we also did leverage the Facebook Messenger ads to assist consumers in the buying process.
Enabling Consumers To Discover Nearby Dealers On Facebook
To assist consumers in their auto purchase process in this season, auto brands can leverage location targeting solutions on Facebook. Maruti launched a hyperlocal activation which enables consumers to discover nearby dealers. They digitised dealers across channels, training them to use Facebook location pages. The dealers then ran local geo-targeted campaigns, which helped consumers discover the nearby dealerships.
Driving Brand Discovery Through Influencers
For new launches, brands can leverage social media influencers to create a buzz. Hyundai India partnered with Facebook for the launch of Hyundai Aura and leveraged Branded Content Ads using Influencers. The campaign delivered +4.6 points on awareness, and +3.7 points on favorability.
Driving Brand Discovery Through Video
For brand salience campaigns in this season, marketers can leverage social videos for impact. Lenovo partnered with Facebook and leveraged instream ads to drive salience of their back-to-school campaign. The short form videos created a stronger brand impact as compared to long form content.
“The digital influence in the auto sector now is close to 95%. Social media is one of the top three in influencing the consumer towards purchase of their car. Currently, we are spending a third of our advertising spend on digital, and this will increase even further.” - Shashank Srivastava
“We have seen a massive increase in the number of inquiries through digital platforms, from 10-12% last year to about 25% this year and accordingly we have accelerated digital spends in recent times. Driving discovery on platforms where consumers spend time and driving advocacy through authentic voices of influencers on social platforms like Instagram will be critical success factors this season.” - Tarun Garg
“With 400 million Indians on Facebook family of apps, we play a significant role in consumer journeys. Our virtual toolkit enables auto and mobile brands to replicate in-store experiences and assist consumers in purchase journeys this festive season. The opportunity for businesses is to adopt full-funnel solutions from discovery to purchase, leverage influencer tools to get scale, and adopt measurement stack to identify true business outcomes.” - Prasanjeet Dutta Baruah
“We worked with Facebook to help our retail partners to digitize, by helping them create Facebook business profiles. We are accelerating adoption of newer solutions such as AR and influencer tools to bring alive experiences and sustain the buzz for product launch cycles.” - Asim Warsi
“This festive season, we are leveraging digital and social media channels to drive brand salience for our latest generation of products. To engage consumers in a high-involvement category like laptops, we have leveraged influencers extensively to reach our audience on Facebook and Instagram and will continue to drive more efforts in this space.” - Amit Doshi