#BackToBusiness: SoCheers’ Siddharth Devnani on the strategy that needs to be followed to bounce back

As brands try to find a sign of semblance post a period of uncertainty, it has become more important than ever to understand and evolve as per changing consumer expectations. From buying goods online to incorporating consumer feedback are some of the ways brands are trying to remain relevant. Siddharth Devnani, co-founder and CEO, SoCheers talks about how brands and agencies can engage with their consumers–

On the playbook, brands and agencies need to adopt in the new normal

The ‘new normal’ feels like an almost cliche term by now, but the fact remains that consumers have had months to get used to a new way of living, and some habits picked up in these times are likely to carry forward. That’s why brands absolutely must adapt to the changing business landscape.

One thing that many people have been forced to get used to, even if they were hesitant before, is transacting online. A whole new market of people has adapted to the convenience of it, so if you’re a brand that’s selling something – which you likely are – make sure people can find you online and transact online. And if you’re a product startup, going direct to consumer (D2C) and skipping the traditional channels has become the norm.

When it comes to social media, ‘cutting through the clutter’ is more important than ever – which is why it’s vital to have an agency on board that understands your brand and is constantly innovating. Thousands of new businesses are launching their social media presence daily, and they’re all eyeing the limited attention of the same audience. Having attention grabbing content in the first few microseconds was considered a ‘hack’ or ‘trick’ a year or so ago – now it is a ‘must’.

As for content consumption, it has been moving to mobile for years – it was 50-50 at one point, then 80-20, and now 95-5. That’s why it’s time to drop your hesitation and embrace vertical video. Even YouTube now promotes vertical videos – and that is the same platform where, less than a year ago, any video posted in a vertical format used to receive hate in the comments.

On the gradual return of the business – how much of its restored and the new trends which can be spotted compared to pre-Covid times

There’s no one answer across the board when it comes to the question of whether business has been restored as there are nuances in each industry. For example, digital entertainment, pharma, e-learning and gaming grew at the peak of the pandemic. Retail, travel, and hospitality are back to pre-Covid levels due to a trend being termed as ‘revenge-shopping’ and ‘revenge-travel’! F&B, events, and sports (with the notable exception of IPL, of course) will take a while to bounce back given the nature of their business.

Regardless of the industry, an obvious new trend is that brands are now considering whether digital experiences can drive similar (or more) impact than live experiences. If it can, that would help save costs in the long run for many businesses.

On how brands can create at-home meaningful experiences for consumers

Creating at-home meaningful experiences can feel like a difficult nut to crack, but it has been important these last few months and will probably continue to be important going forward. Virtual events have been a game changer for many. Some of the biggest launches on the planet were executed digitally – and flawlessly. Brands were forced to adapt, and because of this, there are many avenues open for innovation that weren’t before.

Webinars can also be an avenue to explore. We saw them spike in the initial months of the pandemic, and then it seemed like an overall ‘webinar fatigue’ set in. That being said, this has the potential to be a high impact medium if done well – once you keep in mind what value it can drive and what’s in it for the customer. A webinar for the sake of doing a webinar is not going to fly anymore.

And perhaps one of the most important advancements has been in AR + VR. Social media platforms bet on AR even more this year, and we know adoption is going to go up – we have just scratched the surface in terms of what’s capable. With cutting edge processing and graphics on mobile devices and now even LiDAR (light detection and ranging) built into the latest iPhones, this is no longer just a buzzword. Brands and marketers will want to tap into how they can integrate this into their plans – and fast.

On how brands can make the most of the shift towards digital

‘Shifting to digital’ need not feel daunting because there is a world of opportunities available. There are just a few things to consider:

  • Make sure you’re present where your audience is. Consider – where are the people you would like to talk to? Where are they seeking you or competition?
  • Focus strictly on engagement and interaction for social. Please don’t simply chase likes.
  • Focus on value proposition and experience. Digital buyers are likely to do more research before buying, especially higher ticket items like electronics or furniture or travel. Make the research easy.
  • Tap into Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) – this could be the blogger network, social media influencers and popular forums. This is the single biggest lever today in digital.
  • Listen to the customer – they are vocal as ever and you can find their commentary on your brand at a fraction of the cost of market research.
  • Be nice. Positive word of mouth is a game-changer in digital – a single review on an e-commerce site can make your product the leader in the category.