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.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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