COVID-19 and Media Consumption Habits, What has Changed?

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Media covid-19

Nitinchandra Nandekar

The doldrums of the deadly Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic which broke out in Wuhan, China, in December last year, has now made businesses to adopt more creative and innovative form of operations, especially with the change in the definition of normal. Navigating through the new normal amidst the deadly disease calls for more pragmatic approach by Media & Marketing ecosystem as economies try to rev up, though it is too early to say that it is entering the recovery phase after the humanitarian and economic damage caused by the pandemic. As economies restart, leaders are also considering ways to restore gross domestic product (GDP), employment, consumption, and other aspects of aggregate demand.

While businesses, especially the marketing and media ecosystem waits for an end to this deadly disease which has dealt a hard blow on world economies, the journey to success will continue to be guided with key principles, including being ready for the day after.

To evolve with time, mediaReach OMD, a leading media agency in Nigeria with presence in West and Central Africa, curated few thought leader newsletters and needed actions as a guide in terms of industry Journal for Nigeria’s media landscape, with reference to adaptation of the new normal.
It is a culmination of sequence of newsletters earlier released which are aimed at examining the potential impact of the pandemic on audience behaviour and media consumption in Nigeria.

On this, the Managing Director of the Agency, Nitinchandra Nandekar, said the firm has been monitoring changes in media consumption and adapting to innovative ways of connecting with target audience, through data-led approaches to guide clients’ investments during the COVID-19 lockdown/post lockdown.

Commending the media agency for these initiatives, the Chairman and Managing Director of Expand Global Industries Limited, Rajat Kapur, said “mediaReach OMD, a global partner of Henkel for Media Investment Solutions helps not only in the normal ways but regularly releases data-driven media intelligence information newsletters which ensure that Henkel is prepared to deal with the ‘New Normal’ characterised by the pandemic, leading to the changing consumer habits, the higher need for hygiene based products and the changing media landscape are highlighted for a better clearer and stronger media investments leading to best in class equity development of our brands”
In his views, the President of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), Tony Agenmonmen, affirmed that the breakout of the pandemic has been a defining moment for the world.
He said the deadly disease came with uncertainty and fear because no one knows exactly what is going on, not even the experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO) which has been struggling a bit.

“A bewildered world therefore became anxious and hungry for news. And with the lockdowns in almost all parts of the world, consumers were hungry for information. They tried to stay connected to all the news about the pandemic and social media was the greatest beneficiary.”

“It helped that some brands understood this and were able to help in providing the information in ways that were not seen as exploiting the fears and worries of consumers. Six months down the line, it appears that the world has come to accept that we will have to live with it for an indeterminate while. The fears still remain,” Agenmonmen remarked.

According to him, there is now a certain fatigue about pure COVID-19 news. In the light of this, brands must adjust and adapt their content and messaging to be somewhat entertaining while still embedding the core messages of care. Also, brand communication must continue to strike a tone of sensitivity to the embedded fears and worries of consumers. The messages must be authentic and genuine.

On the importance of data to investment, the NIMN President remarked that without it, organisations cannot plan their daily activities properly. “Data is life, it is very critical in running your day-to-day investment. If you have the right data, then you are on the right path to success,” he affirmed.

Against this backdrop, the Journal postulates that the marketing and media ecosystem should consolidate with media mix, vehicle mix, among others, and invests prudently, keeping objectives in view; ensuring that past audience data in isolation should not suffice; and in addition, look for various signals for informed decisions.

It also encourages innovative media planning keeping in mind ‘Impact’ and ‘Attention’ to deliver effectiveness and efficiency; co-create; look at ownable approaches for exponential gains and drive emotional connect to explore opportunities for more business returns.

Media buyers and planners are enjoined to focus on three measures of brand equity which are salience, difference and meaningful, to guide their direction; defend share of voice to drive share of mind, share of hand/market; and also invest in advertising for immediate gains and long-term advantage.

To get on the growth trajectory, brands are advised to have physical availability and to meet current demand with adequate supply, by activating all relevant sales channels with affordability in view, and to invest in building brand metrics, with a minimum of share of voice (SOV) closer to share of market (SOM).

The playbook cautioned that if advert expenses needs to be reduced, other effective ways of being visible should be evaluated, looking at bespoke marketing activities to drive the message, with creative approach to connect either with appropriate communication to deliver the desired objectives or tactics to be seen as a meaningful and purposeful brand.

It posits that the marketing and media ecosystem should continue to look for signals by investing time in communication with consumers, to see shift in buying habits, purchase cycles, post purchase or consumption and all advocacy signals to ensure a positive net promoter score; sharpen brand positioning by ensuring distinctive balance of functional and emotional benefits; and also explore deeper connections merit between consumers and trusted brands.

There is also the need for strategic alliances by asking bold questions around ambitions or partnering with others on mutual interest in solving particular problems, with each bringing their expertise or capital for desired benefits.

For quick wins to plan, invest and succeed amidst COVID-19 in the food segment of the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, the book posits that media planners and buyers should explore channels of co-creation and/or associations of relevant content that have a strong affinity with consumers, to drive attention on high reach TV stations leveraging sensory communication.

It states that they should consider radio sponsorships and social media management on digital to stay connected with consumers; optimize media investment in key markets by looking at the brand development index /category development index (BDI/CDI) matrix, with a strategy for markets featuring in various quadrants, with efficiency and effectiveness; drive sales by running promo campaigns factoring in low income in hand of consumers; drive affordable initiatives; and also emotional connection by helping society in order to remain in the forefront of everyday communication.

Specifically, for the Health and Hygiene segment of the FMCG industry, it advocates building equity by owning media assets where support on health and hygiene can be pushed and has contextual relevance. It further pointed out that continuous digital engagement is vital.

In the telecom landscape, the mediaReach OMD playbook emphasised on developing products and services to cater to the needs triggered by the pandemic with amplification on media for awareness drive; focus on customer relationship management (CRM) to have consumers connected to social handles and pushing app downloads; own or partner with owners of entertainment and informative assets (especially digital enabled); and to leverage access to a large subscriber base with additional menu to the brands app. It also advocates opportunities on TV by way of sponsorships that gives an influx in value added service (VAS) revenue and impact for awareness and attention; key passion points of customers, for example music; and focus on comedy to keep customers engaged.
Further analysis shows that since mobile phones will drive education through new features and incorporation of up-to-the-minute apps, businesses should leverage the surge in owning these devices by creating adequate supply and communicating it; improve e-commerce supply chain; focus on bespoke grand mobile sale and explore partnership with telecoms companies on customised packages.

For quick wins to plan, invest and succeed amidst COVID-19 in the banking and finance sector, factors to be considered should be the drive-in innovations within the self-service and retail banking products subset to stay competitive and to meet the growing need for contactless transactions.

The industry article stresses the need for focus on objective CRM to have consumers connected to social handles and apps; 24/7 swift response to customer complaints; use of digital banking products to drive frequency of usage and volume of transactions; strengthened security authentication measures with trust to tap into existing opportunities in the growing mobile commerce space and partnership with payment portals on e-commerce to drive transactions.
Others include precautionary measures for COVID-19 at automated teller machines (ATMs) and agent banking points; communicating lines of credit to save small businesses from bankruptcy and more focus on empowering and enhancing corporate communications.

On Google (Search and Video), it pointed out the use of data on search and YouTube to gain insights on audience’s engagement habit; data driven customized retargeting/remarketing content to cater to both existing and new customers; leveraging of offline format such as TV, for a larger audience to know streamed content, and the use of radio to present weekly top 10 music videos and out-of-home (OOH) to let larger audience know what was searched.

Also, of relevance is the continuous communication of self-services and navigational button, catering to the needs of basic users; continued focus on tech laggard for app usage; and the need to engage in community relationship programmes, such as online coding class for children, educational classes on TV as well as radio.

For success in the fashion and lifestyle industry, the playbook advises on continued contextual communication of products and offerings that engages with consumer via suitable platforms.
It states that brands should co-create contents across audio-visual media channels like Google Africa Afro Hair Culture and Beauty Festival; online makeup master classes by lifestyle influencers; do-it-yourself (DIY) hairstyles, using own range of products and videos on how to install virtual parties hosted by brands’ influencers to create events.

It asserts that brands should communicate new and existing product offerings and service delivery channels to improve customer experience while adapting to the new normal; launch support programmes for makeup artists and hairstylists who are also currently affected due to lower bookings and appointments; drive a YouTube tutorial video on ‘how-to’ do things; and leverage TV to communicate style of the week or other issues, as well as alternate channels of sales.

In order to navigate the new normal in the media sector amidst COVID-19, the industry guide propound the need to communicate new entertainment programme line-ups for the week/month, using live sports opportunities as a key trigger with promotional offers to drive subscriptions.

Also vital is the use of celebrities in dramas or soap contents to hype show-time for the different dramas on their social media handles, and also partner with filmmakers (local and international) for exclusivity on yet-to-be released, and cinema released movies for airing to drive increased viewership and sponsorship. Worthy of note are inventory opportunities for brands looking at top-of-mind as media habits shift in favour of TV.

Furthermore, there is the need to promote the download and subscription of the mobile app in order to leverage the increased dwell time on mobile with options for non-decoder subscribers to have access to particular content on the app and to drive uptake of decoders as well as eyeball on channels by offering promo prizes on bouquets and early subscription payment.

––Nintinchandra Nandekar, MD/CEO, mediaReach OMD Nigeria.