The next normal also means no going back to pre-Covid, she believes
Anupriya Acharya, the CEO of Publicis Groupe India, is among the industry leaders that classify Covid-19 as a black swan event, literally defined as an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences.
Subsequently, while she does agree with her peer that the key theme of 2021 will be around recovery, she reminds it is not going to be equal in its impact. Building a case for her comment, she points out that forecasting has changed from a monthly basis to a quarterly basis. “India saw one of the deepest declines in GDP globally. But as early as June, we began seeing the green shoots that are getting better month after month. Things have started getting back to normal,” Acharya says.
Today, businesses have adapted themselves to new ways of working. Even distress categories such as travel and tourism and hospitality are expected to grow slowly in the first quarter of 2021. “The way companies have developed themselves during the last six months has been commendable. Also, the agility we see is immense. Most businesses have already reimagined their products and services in the new normal,” observes Acharya.
The evolution of businesses and business models is not merely an impact of the change in the economic landscape but also a fundamental change in consumer behaviour itself. All the disruptions of 2020 have led consumer demands and preferences to change. The likes of do-it-yourself has gained prominence and consumers are continually discovering new things in a digital world.
“Every consumer is conscious about every aspect of their life. Marketers and advertisers have also moved rapidly. Every business has shifted to the new normal. Therefore, I believe there is no such thing as going to the pre-Covid times. People are very now geared up for the new reality,” states Acharya.
These changes are directly reflective in the marketing landscape. During the last six months, holding companies such as Publicis Groupe have discovered “exponential growth” in some areas. “Especially given the rise of digital, there is a major shift in portfolios in client segments as well. Ways of communicating has changed on the client’s side. Digital media has seen multi-fold growth. Apart from this, TV has also done very well. But some of the other areas will not grow at the same pace, thus leading to different levels of growth,” Acharya explains.
The Publicis Groupe CEO is bullish on 2021 also because she believes that the ‘adjustment’ period for the economy per se has taken place to a large degree. She however does caution that much still depends on how India’s economy bounces back, leading to some period of wait and watch in the initial months of the year.
Acharya also asserts that despite the challenges, the period has been great learning for all. The on area perhaps that will continue to see investment is talent. “Talent is key. Our biggest investment has always been our people and that is where we are going to invest more in the future as well,” she says.
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