Durables makers script advertising narratives around new lockdown lifestyle

Appliances has used Sonu Sood as an endorser, Voltas Beko has just launched a campaign for dishwashers, and Prestige has run several ads around the lockdown with Vidya Balan
From treating homemakers with respect to offering families a way out of the tedium of daily chores, durables makers are scripting their advertising narratives around the new lockdown lifestyle. Nothing about new launches, premium extensions, sleek looks or even discounts and offers—a far cry from the pre-pandemic advertising in the sector. Is this the way forward and does this also mark an end to the sector’s premiumisation pitch?

Given that all the regular triggers on a typical consumer decision journey—from replacement purchases to celebratory and aspirational buys—have been blunted by the pandemic, marketers say that brands have had to find new ways to enter the conversation. Hence the ads talk about convenience, but with a keen eye on the budget as that is the way most brands will look to address latent needs and reignite desires in a post-pandemic economy.

According to a spokesperson for e-commerce major Amazon India, “We’re seeing a 70-80 per cent spike in demand for home appliances since March, driven by customers in metros as well as non-metro cities.” Cooking aids, kitchen appliances and such products top the list of most bought items, all of this reflects the pent-up demand caused by the series of lockdowns. 

According to the Retailers Association of India, consumers have started investing in durables and furniture to the extent that it makes working from home easier. Sales for kitchen appliances are in fact 10 per cent higher than pre-Covid-19 levels in June on pent-up demand, a spokesperson said. 

 
At the same time, the lockdowns have seeded a desire for new products, companies are seeing a growing interest in segments that had been slow-starters such as dish washers and vacuum cleaners. Both trends reflect the mood of the nation and that is what the advertising takes into account, say experts. 

 

TTK Prestige Chairman T T Jagannathan says that the increased attention being paid to the kitchen will boost the sales of appliances. And his company is innovating and launching new products, especially in the pressure cooker category. Its sales from e-commerce channels in June 2020 are twice that of the numbers logged in June last year. A similar surge is reported by a regional brand Preethi Kitchen Appliances. S Subramanian, its managing director, said that all core categories have seen demand come back. He believes that brands will not only have to adapt to new needs and wants but also to a new medium of communication. “Digital has seen a spike in viewership and we will be reaching out through these platforms also,” he added.

Durables brands are all rapidly building up their e-commerce networks while creating relatable online personalities. According to Kamal Nandi, business head and executive vice president, Godrej Appliances, the company is working with its trade partners to enable easy discovery and accessibility of Godrej products. While digital marketing is a trend growing by the hour in the locked down world, the premiumisation track that most brands in the segment had embarked upon, several market reports and surveys indicate, is likely to be rolled back for a while.

A Voltas spokesperson said, “Although there is a huge pent up demand, consumers will prioritise their spending. Given this context, we have been focussing on creating differentiated value that not just offers our consumers convenience and comfort, but also makes our products easily accessible in a market with limited disposable income.” The company is also focusing heavily on the dishwasher category, a relatively new segment that saw an exponential growth in sales of over 200 per cent, as compared to the sale recorded in the same period last year, the spokesperson added.

It is not as if consumers are not upgrading their products or looking for premium purchases at all. 

 
Raju Pullan, senior vice president, Consumer Electronics Business, Samsung India said that since unlocking the markets, they have seen consumers upgrading to televisions with larger screens. But the trick, for brands, is to understand what the new lifestyle demands. As B Thiagarajan, managing director, Blue Star pointed out, demand for durables such as air-conditioners is low although people were spending on kitchen appliances and refrigerators. Affordability could be a factor in reviving such brands but besides keeping prices in check, Blue Star is planning to launch ACs with virus deactivation technology to attune the brand to another big concern in the age of the pandemic, that of immunity and virus protection.



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