Making A Pitch For ‘Non-Essentials’ In Crisis Times

Agency heads' highlight solutions to push the non-essential & premium category products forward

The definition of premium products has been fairly consistent from the past years- finest materials, unmatched quality, an attractive brand identity, an apparent status and alike. While these products and their features remain intact, contemplating life after-lockdown is sure to alter the buying habits for these ‘non-essential’ products, given the unpleasant market scenario. It is not that these products will lose their position, but they are expected to face an intense trouble with respect to consumer mindset and spending. 

While post-Covid times have been trying for a lot of marketers, it has been a different ball game altogether for those working on premium brands. Azazul Haque, CCO, Mullen Lintas agrees, “Post Covid, essential items and products are more in demand and non-essential or premium categories and brands have taken a back seat. So, it becomes more imperative for the premium category brands to create demand and the the role of agencies to come in play. Most premium brands have discounted them but many are also trying to be relevant during Covid period.”

However, Haque observes a spike in premium food category sales because people who are sitting at home are seeking indulgent experiences . Similarly, premium electronic devices are also gaining traction as most people are doing more daily chores sitting at home. So, an expensive premium vacuum cleaner is now more relevant than it was before. “Agencies and brands are trying to find relevance for premium products for consumers who are sitting at home and premium categories and products which are more relevant are being pushed more,” he adds. 

For Sahil Shah, Chief Business Officer, WATConsult, the upper class in the country, the ones indulging into premium products, have not been dramatically impacted and their overall consumption volume is on a steady rise, with spikes in certain categories and dips in some. “The personal care and food/beverages consumption in the premium segment has seen a spike while the spends on expensive clothes or vacations has seen a huge drop. 

In such a scenario, agencies that keep track of similar and even deeper consumer trends play a huge role. Additionally, agencies also play a role of being the catalyst to drive growth for clients, by acting upon these consumer trends and driving solutions in the content, creative, eCommerce and media domains,” he believes. 

Mastering The Art Of A Pitch Perfect

There has been a significant difference between a pre and post-Covid market, due to an evident shift in product relevance. Fashion for stepping out has now become fashion for staying at home. Dining out has now become dining in. Travel and exploring outdoor experiences has now become finding new experiences at home. Safety and Hygiene is become a given norm across categories. Marketers need to understand that shift and plan their marketing strategy around that and find new ways to be relevant.

“For starters, in a world full of increasing misery, how can I be so pompous and talk of individual luxury? This has been a question that TGs of most luxury brands across categories, have grappled with. And something that most brands have had to scramble for, to provide answers,” points Mohit Ahuja, Director (Brand Strategy and Client Services), Mirum.

The solution that Ahuja sees can be summed up vaguely under 'Sustainability'. “While this is true for eco-luxury, the user of any such premium brand wants to put forward a circumstance-positive image through her use of these products.

Second, till now luxury brands have been more present in the physical than the online World. The product exhibition or demonstration part is all an interactive ritual that cannot be replicated exactly online. So, brands have had to rely more on their key product offering while not negating any of the premiums.

Third, there is a trend of more localization that can be observed. With cities under lockdown and flights not operating, hyper-localization, especially in the hospitality and F&B sectors has really worked. Online one can see a whole lot of such brands in practically every city,” he comments. 

Adding on to the approach that marketers must explore now, Shah asserts, “Given the uncertain times, I think marketers should focus on protecting business through ROI-lead digital marketing. This one trend is here to stay in a post-Covid world as well. And ROI does not only mean performance/sales; it’s also how best agencies are helping them solve top and mid funnel metrics for brands that eventually aid into business too.”

“Even for the smaller companies selling non-essential items, agencies need to find newer insights of the post covid consumer. And advise small premium brands not just how to advertise but also what all changes to bring in the product, so that it finds relevance for the post covid consumer,” suggests Haque.

We believe that an agency should be able to look at these and more such trends and almost adapt the offering to a more Covid consumer-centric one. Thus, the lens of Covid over and above the brand promise is something that agencies must recognize and work towards. The importance of digital premiumization cannot be overly emphasized.