Marketing Initiatives To Drive Customer Awareness

Organizations that truly care for all stakeholders, offer hope and empathy to customers and have strong digital offerings will stay, says Subharwal

The last year has been different, very different for the entire world. We know there’s no going back to the old way of doing things and we have started calling it the new normal. The new normal hasn’t been easy for both individuals as well as organizations and has led to shifts in how we live and operate.

Consumer Sentiment & Behavior

Consumer sentiment and behavior is a compass for marketers and as economies become consumption-driven, a slight change may cause a ripple effect across sectors. Consumers change their behavior for various reasons - practical, subjective thought, emotional leanings, etc. The challenge is to not only analyze this correctly but also to understand consumers’ current dilemmas.

Traditionally, consumer trends have evolved over a period of time, shaped by the social, political and economic environments in localized geographies. But the pandemic has been a global challenge. Shortage of a small component in a globalized world disrupts entire supply chains and industries. Keeping this in mind, marketers have also had to reposition their brand to reflect these sentiments and demand-supply realities. They have had to connect with the consumers on a deeper level by taking into account their emotional and economic upheaval that has been wrought out by the pandemic.

Pandemic Messaging

The pandemic has made consumers focus on essentials - food, healthcare, home care - with frugality being the key to the equation. Increasingly homebound with rising cases of COVID-19, physical exercise and mental wellbeing need to be given priority.

It was necessary for brands to connect with consumers in a meaningful and empathetic manner and prioritize long-term trust over shorter-term economic interests. Companies focused on making the buying process hassle-free and intuitive, demystifying product features, being active on social media to understand consumers' current sentiment etc. Going the extra mile for a customer during these times is a key differentiator.

As people become optimistic to get out of the crisis due to the vaccination drive, social media chatter reflects concern and anxiety in the consumers’ minds about the availability of ample resources to win the battle. In such a scenario, brands have had to pledge their support to consumers, assuring them that they are not alone in this experience.

Importance Of Digital & Data

The 3Vs - Voice, Video and Vernacular – have become the central mode of interaction for all Indians in the pandemic. With the advent of Alexa and Google Voice, 60 percent users in India are opting to use Voice for Search and YouTube, according to the Year in Search Google Survey 2020. Videos online have moved from being pure entertainment modules to learning and sharing mediums. This has become even more prevalent and vital with the option of accessing content through vernacular languages.

70 percent customers surveyed for a study, across age groups, showed increased confidence in purchasing an insurance policy via digital platform. Digital purchase channels, i.e. website/ app, payment apps/e-wallets remain top two choices for more than 65 percent of the customers in the coming future.

Emerging Trends

The current situation has led to higher awareness around the need for financial protection and the inadequacy of the current life and health insurance coverage. This has led to an increase in demand for term insurance and we believe that the trend is likely to sustain.

Apart from that, healthy living will continue to be a priority for most consumers. Rise in the purchase of health insurance and hygiene-related products will continue to see an upward trend.

Going Rural

According to Nielsen India, in 2020, rural markets outperformed urban India and became critical for FMCG giants. While the first wave was primarily affecting urban centers, brands came to rely on rural India to tide them through.

Both data consumption and internet penetration have seen an increase in small towns and rural India. (Comscore Mar’20 – Mar’21 trends). Reports suggest there was a 45 percent increase in online shopping in rural India, reflecting the rapid shift towards digital.


Newfound digital behaviors can be expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Organizations that truly care for all stakeholders, offer hope and empathy to customers and have strong digital offerings will be better positioned for success in the years to come.

The author is Vishal Subharwal - Executive Vice President - HDFC Life

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