ORM Still Not A Standalone Part Of Marketing Strategies: Krishnarao Buddha, Parle

For Buddha, online reputation management has become significantly critical in this time, considering that a very large audience base has moved on to digital platforms

We have seen growth in companies embracing online reputation management (ORM) strategies in the last year. Was this something that would have happened in due course in the way we see it today, or has the pandemic transformed how ORM would have panned out for brands? 

The difference between pre-Covid and now is that it was relatively difficult earlier for consumers to take the pain and make the effort to call the consumer services cell number that has been mandated to be given on the backs of any product. So, that is one option. Going back further a decade, consumers typically depended upon letters, giving feedback and complaints through posts. It has now become much easier for consumers to respond digitally and raise their grievances within a matter of minutes. This keeps brands like us on our toes due to the threat of smirching the goodwill raised in the market over time. Therefore, it has become all the more critical for brands to manage their online reputation.

What are some of the components that form the ORM suite that assist brands in connecting with audiences today?

With the accelerated digital adoption over sectors, ORM predominantly has been still driven by social media with consumers taking to social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to have interactions with the brand or to air their grievances or problems they are encountering with the product. Social media, influencer engagement and PR have been employed by the brands to create positive interaction with their customers and to ensure the highest level of satisfaction with the products and services. To cope up with the immense digital chatter, brands are now deploying sophisticated tools which aids in streamlining all the activities right from monitoring tools to social listening technologies to gauge audience sentiments. This omnichannel approach is vital to ensure a brand’s reach to a highly fragmented digital audience.

Would you say ORM already has its own place in the marketing toolkit?

ORM still has not attained a standing where it has been given proper and standalone attention in the marketing strategies, but marketers are still continuously focussing on delivering the absolute best to the consumers. Brands always make it a priority to ensure the highest quality in their products or services, but with the added pressure of the plethora of dependent variables in the value chain, there could be some scope of error at every level which may lead to bigger concerns. A lifetime of efforts go into building a positive perception of the brand in the customer’s mind. Post Covid,

customers have become sensitive to such negative occurrences which has a detrimental effect on their trust. Keeping the brand ORM ready helps to preempt such incidents and goes a long way in shielding the brand from hurting its market standing.

Are there any instances of the kind of activities undertaken, as part of your ORM strategy, which made a direct impact on you brand?

We faced a dilemma earlier last year when certain channels for advertising were not up to standards and we had to take a stance as a brand. With this, Parle Products decided that we will be pulling out advertisements from 'toxic media channels' since our audience which includes children, mothers and common people do not need the values of hate being promoted so violently and openly. We stated in the media that we will reconsider ad spends if the situation continues to be the same and ‘toxic media channels’ need to own up to the unnecessarily aggression being displayed on channels. Our stand on ‘toxic channels’ received appreciation by different industries and consumers. Following this announcement, #ParleG was trending on Twitter with many calling it a ‘socially responsible brand’.

Other examples include receiving some fake videos and news on our brand being linked to certain elements and group to derogate the brand name, however our reputation management team was immediately activated who got in touch with the concerned parties to retract the fake content, urging to secure the source of the information and the issue was addressed within a matter of few hours. There were also incidents wherein consumers claimed to find foreign objects in biscuit packs, and we have consumer teams in place to address cases like these on priority basis. Depending on the details we activate different departments and sales teams who get in touch with consumers to address the problem at the earliest to ensure containment and consumer satisfaction.