Mixed opinions on advertising industry recovery post lockdown

OOH revenues may rise as curbs lift

Ambi Parameswaran, brand coach and founder of Brand Building.com

On 13 May 2020, India is still in the middle of a lockdown, while several other countries opened up substantially in the first week of May. In the MediaExpo webinar organized by the Frankfurt Messe in India and held on 13 May 2020, speakers suggested that post-lockdown, the advertising industry may witness multiple consumer behaviors.

The trends are being initially forecast by classifying shoppers into three categories. The first type is being called the revenge shopper, the second a revelation shopper, and the third a restricted shopper.

The initial focus of brands will be on the revenge shoppers, the ones who feel locked down and are longing to go on a shopping spree. Their pent-up desires may vary from buying their favorite branded clothes, going to a movie or visit to a pub or a bar to have a drink. This category is likely to consist of the younger and more affluent shoppers who are just itching for the stores to open.

A revelation shopper shops for essential commodities only. These may vary from a washing machine, a refrigerator, or replacing an air conditioner that has produced a nagging sound for a long time. He or she may be described as older, wealthier but at the same time conscious and cautious of the future and what it may bring. While just opening up may be enough for attracting the revenge shopper, it may take a little more effort to get the revelation shoppers to swipe their credit cards, even the credit cards for bad credit. And for the third category of restricted shoppers, additional motivation such as special offers and discounts may have to be announced.

OOH to bounce back

“However, we cannot restrict consumers to just the three types. I believe multiple types of customers will emerge once the lockdown ends. If the top 20% of the Indian demographic dividend spends only on necessities, this country is not going to grow at all. A significant part of the growth of a country depends a lot on the spending of this 20% of the population,” says Ambi Parameswaran, brand coach and founder of Brand Building.com.

The out-of-home (OOH) advertising is meant to catch the eye-balls of people outdoors. But, the COVID-induced lockdown which compelled consumers to stay indoors increased digital content consumption significantly. Hence, as long as people remain indoors and businesses remain shut, the OOH revenue is going to see a sharp decline. “But I’d like to reassure that once the businesses open, it shouldn’t be difficult for the OOH platform to bounce back. OOH is the oldest platform in the advertising industry and has witnessed many ups and downs. I’m sure it will be able to overcome the aftermath of this pandemic as well,” says Raj Gopal Iyer, general manager – Marketing at Infiniti Retail (Tata Chroma).

Outdoor signage

“Outdoor signage as a medium helps to create a buzz and news. Usually, brands use this platform to promote or give a push to new products that are launched in the market. In the next six months, I don’t see brands actively actively launching new products and services. This sluggishness may affect the pace at which OOH advertising picks up post lockdown.

“The brand recall depends on where the products are placed. There will be certain customers to whom messages that resonate with life will appeal since we’re living in the midst of a life-threatening disease. There is no doubt that a lot of shoppers are going to step out to buy, and I’m certain that most of the brand recall messaging would be around ‘I’m back’ or ‘I’m available at an affordable price,’” says KV Shridhar, global chief creative officer at Nihilent – HyperCollective. Since retail and manufacturing bounced-back in China soon after the lockdown was lifted, one may expect similar trends in India since the populations of both countries are similar. Safety is an aspect on everybody’s mind right now and brands must utilize this aspect to promote their products.

Parameswaran is optimistic of the market bouncing back pretty quickly. “There will be a lot of demand for one or two products which will reflect in the first couple of weeks. After the revenge shoppers are done fulfilling their wishes, marketers have to target the revelation and restricted shoppers to step back into the market. This puts a lot of pressure on the marketers to pull everybody back to the stores. I believe marketers must launch new products and innovations now! I would use this slow down to become more efficient and aggressive in marketing and launching my products and innovations. That will help brands gaining an edge over those not-so-aggressive or agile. If it happens, we can expect the advertisement industry to bounce back pretty soon, as well,” he explains.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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