The pandemic has changed the dynamics of marketing and pushed for the re-invention of strategies
The pandemic has emerged as the most defining and transformational experience of our lives. It has, perhaps irreversibly, changed the way we live, work and especially how we communicate and engage with each other. Even as we were physically apart, we saw an enhanced need for engaging in deeper, more meaningful day to day conversations. As the dynamics completely changed, brands had to forgo conventional means to reach out to their consumers during the pandemic. This gave way to re-invented strategies with conversational media marketing emerging as the most felicitous digital advertising solution for the rapidly evolving consumer sentiment amidst the ‘new normal’.
Chatting ruled the roost
It is now a ‘virtual-first’ world. Remote working and multi-tasking are at the core of this new work order. Communication via chatting surpassed audio calling as the most common way of communication in the last few years and the pandemic has played a crucial role in making it a more acceptable and impactful mode of communication. In a Nielsen study conducted for Bobble in early 2021, interestingly, 7 out of 10 respondents shared that their chatting activity had increased in the 6 months prior to the study and shall remain the same or increase thereon in the subsequent 6 months. Chatting is most preferred amongst GenZies and millennials, who have now found innovative and fun ways to express themselves.
Visuals - Emojis, stickers and GIFs rule the messaging/ chatting today. As most would agree, they bring in a very personal touch and allow people to be their real, eccentric selves. And this is a global trend. A 2020 report by Holler covering major US cities, presented that 78 per cent of respondents emphasized that visuals allow them to express emotions that words do not and 81 per cent felt that visuals make any conversation more fun.
Brands need to shake up the marketing mix
What this shift also means is the way businesses engage with their consumers’ needs to change to align with the ‘new normal’. It is evident that brands must redefine their marketing strategies with a more ‘humanized’ approach, focused on sentiments and connections. They must pivot around what the consumers are thriving upon – conversations. This has given way to a revolutionary new marketing approach, Conversation Media Marketing (CMM), which helps brands venture into the daily life of its consumers, in visual formats that they now most relate with. CMM enables brands to have a targeted, multi-platform penetration using fun visual elements such as GIFs, stickers and Emojis which can be strategically delivered in real-time conversations based on user’s intent in relatable day-to-day lingo.
Brands, globally, are leveraging this innovative methodology to reach and influence their existing and prospective customers. Snapchat allows its users to have their own personalized avatars and luxury giant Ralph Lauren harped on this, giving users the option to dress their digital avatar in its newly launched collections. CMM innovations have helped other popular consumer brands such as Nike and Disney in their direct advertising initiatives.
Indian brands and the CMM impact
Here in India, globally renowned brands are joining the CMM bandwagon. Bobble AI recently helped McDonald’s, the world’s leading fast-food restaurant chain, with over 300+ stores across 42 cities of western and southern India. The company decided to leverage CMM solutions to ensure greater brand recall and to position itself as the leading fast food joint across India and the go-to place to
order from, when hungry, apart from ensuring that the brand becomes an intrinsic part of all conversations around Friendship Day, generic hungry chatter and Independence Day. An interesting conversational pack of stickers with Burgers and Fries from McD as the theme, used in conversations around friendship, hunger, independence day, along with an exclusive branded McD BigMoji to drive brand virality when ‘burger/hunger’ used in chats, gave users a more intrusive, engaging way to converse with each other. It’s significant that the campaign managed to garner over 20+ million brand imprints in conversations, 2.1Mn+ unique eyeballs and 408K+ content shares in a short span of 15 days.
CMM offers non-intrusive proposition with USPs like none other
One may argue, what does CMM offer that other means of digital advertising don’t. The digital marketing industry has been facing multiple challenges with evolving privacy regulations, social media policy changes, overload of digital advertisement through multiple channels for users and fraudulent traffic due to tone-deaf messaging. Brands have to additionally deal with shrinking user attention span and a discerning customer with an aversion to intrusion and quick to block digital ads. CMM offers a completely non-intrusive yet value-added approach. The brands are already present in personal conversations, CMM merely amplifies its presence and gives the users freedom of choice, empowering them to be the brand advocates and thus building trust and credibility. 3 out of 4 customers are likely to use a branded sticker vis-à-vis a non-branded one in their chats, says a study conducted by Nielsen. Moreover, customers love it when brands show some personality and further use such brands that they already love in order to express their personal style.
The digital advertising industry is expected to register an increase of 20 per cent in 2021 to become a Rs 18,938 crore industry by the end of the year and a 22.47 per cent increase in 2022 to reach Rs 23,673 crore according to a report by Dentsu.
This expected growth is all set to create a conducive environment for greater uptake of CMM solutions by varied brands. In fact, this will also help CMM to emerge as a new marketing tool that has the potential to make a paradigm shift in the manner in which a brand intends to reach out to its target audience.
The increase in the use of smartphones which is estimated to have gone up 25 per cent, from approximately 5 hours per day in 2019 to 7 hours in 2020, will only give chat-based apps and thus CMM opportunities for brands a boost.
Reimagining the digital marketing mix to catch up with the evolving consumer trends is what will set apart the brands that are poised for success. Brands now need to be agile and innovative to connect with customers on a real-time basis, without intrusion. CMM will provide brands with an opportunity to do this with a highly engaging, personalized experience while building an army of real brand ambassadors
The Author is Ankit Prasad, Founder and CEO, Bobble AI
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