MediAvataar's News Desk
The economic slowdown fails to dent India’s appetite/love in the time of a recession?
It seems the slow down in the economy and the elections have had little impact on consumer spending for eating out / made sure that Love is celebrated even more fervently in 2020. EazyDiner, India’s leading restaurant reservation platform witnessed an 8X surge in diners going to restaurants on Valentines Day in 2020 much to the delight of restaurants and hotels alike. Despite the slowdown and declining consumer spending, diners left no stone unturned when it comes to eating out. This year Valentine’s Day bookings even trumped the total number of bookings made on New Year’s Eve. The number of average diners on the 14th across India made was 3, which basically means that eat out was done in groups of 2’s or 4’s.
EazyDiner studied data (tables being booked, dishes ordered, average diner spends, coupons bought) from over 500,000 diners on the platform on the eve of Valentine’s day. EazyDiner also ran a campaign on the same across multiple platforms including Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google Display Ads, advertisement in Hindustan Times Brunch, and internal mediums such as communication on Emailers, App Notifications, Banners etc. In total, the campaign generated 20+ million views for EazyDiner.
While India’s economic growth will slow to 5 per cent, compared to 6.8 per cent last year, consumer spending when it comes to celebrating key events continues to be on upswing much to the joy of hospitality industry. Occupancies for most hotels and restaurants were at 100% for both lunch and dinner as per data on EazyDiner’s LiveTable restaurant management app. Eating out during the day peaked during lunch and dinner at 1.30 pm and 9.30 pm respectively. In order to cater to this demand, restaurants that ran special offers at 12 noon and 7 pm were able to capitalize on two seatings for both lunch and dinner. Restaurants who hadn’t anticipated such demand could only sell one seating on a day as the demand surpassed a record number compared to valentines day in the last 5 years.
Most popular trends witnessed across diners in India:
For lunch most of the people opted for Italian restaurants and for dinner – Chinese and Pan Asian cuisines were a big hit.
Type of restaurant: 55% of the people booked upscale restaurants which are restaurants with an average cost per diner of over Rs. 1,000 whereas the average spend per diner in 2019 was Rs 829.
62% of EazyDiner Prime customers, who are American Express Centurion and Platinum, Citi Ultima and Prestige, IndusInd Pioneer and Axis Burgundy Reserve cardholders, went to luxury hotel restaurants or very high-end standalone restaurants.
Most eating-out destinations on Valentine’s Day frequented by couples:
CP, Cyberhub and Aerocity in Delhi;
Kormangala, Indiranagar and Sarjapur in Bengaluru;
BKC, Andheri(west) and Powai in Mumbai and Adyar,
Phoenix Market City Mall and Nungambakkam in Chennai were the most popular
Indians decided to be adventurous with their palate and opted for Italian during lunch while Chinese / Pan Asian remained the preferred option in the evening.
Out of the beverages consumed on Valentine’s Day, these are the ones which stood out
Grover’s La Reserve in the wine category
Diageo’s Singleton was consumed the most at luxury and upscale restaurants
Gin cocktails were the preferred choice of white spirits while vodka and white rum was lagging behind significantly
Delhi/NCR saw the highest number of bookings during the lunch period, whereas Bangalore topped the number of bookings made for Dinner on Valentine’s Day.
Talking about the campaign, Rohit Dasgupta, CEO & Co-founder, EazyDiner, said, “ When it comes to consumer spending for special occasions, Indians don’t hold back and in fact, consumer spending witnesses a spike on such days. Valentine’s Day in 2020 broke records vs any of the previous years as Indians spent 50% higher than in 2019. Consumer appetite was boosted by offers and special dishes being offered by the restaurants across India. We hope to see this trend translate throughout the remaining days of the year.”
While startups with millions of dollars’ worth funding and mega valuations may get most of the attention, the other few are typically on much leaner budgets. For these startups, arriving at a cost-effective, efficient budget is essential for the company’s survival. In the present era of internet-led business, companies are trying to optimize the various benefits digital marketing has to offer. Without a doubt, digital efforts have not only proved to be faster and efficient but also convenient for both businesses as well as customers.
But truth be told, digital efforts cost money, and with competition rising multi-fold, the consulting fees charged by leading agencies and independent experts only seems to be increasing. How about those who are operating on a tight marketing budget, though?
Here’s a guide for such brands, businesses, organizations, and entrepreneurs to yield maximum benefits while on a minimum digital marketing budget.
1. Develop a Blog
The easiest and one of the best ways to market without paying for anything other than the hosting is to turn to blogging. In fact, if you possess enough knowledge pertaining to your sector, churning high-quality content and offering insights into the industry through the means of blog on your website will count as one of the free marketing alternatives you have accessible to you. The key here is to ensure that the content is relevant, posted consistently, and interesting enough to attract people to your site and turn them into potential customers. If there’s trouble reaching out to people at first, limit your focus to smaller audiences, start guest blogging, and initiate promotions on social media.
2. Careful Targeting
Good content, paid advertisements, community management, banners, SEO, and everything involved in digital marketing comes with a price tag. No single tool of digital marketing is ever absolutely free. However, if the budget is already tight, then spending money on reaching audiences that are not interested in the offered product or service is a complete waste of money. In this case, utilizing the power of social networks that offer substantial opportunities in terms of razor-sharp targeting, or in other words, narrowing down the population, can be a wise money-saving option.
Furthermore, many Google tricks and tools can come in handy – for instance, Google Analytics’ Smart Goals can help in showing ads to relevant people who are in need of the product or service you have to offer.
3. Try your Hands at PPC
Paid search marketing is commonly dismissed by digital marketers because of the belief that it doesn’t serve much of a purpose for those on leaner budgets. But in the case of PPC, there are no budget restrictions. In fact, the cost for a click and expense for a campaign or an ad can always be analysed and controlled. Similar to social media advertising, it’s possible with PPC to spend either a lot or a limited amount of money in a short span. However, considering the fact that PPC has a solid learning curve, it is something that one must not directly jump in with.
4. Build an Email List
Email marketing might appear like an outdated alternative at first glance, but in reality, it is still very much active and does offer a strong ROI. Email marketing still remains one of the easiest ways to connect with your target audience. Start by building up your email list, send people interesting content at regular intervals, and make a subtle yet visible placement of call-to-action buttons that can prove to be beneficial for your brand’s reputation along with conversion rates. Not to forget, narrowing down whom you want to reach out to and what kind of information is important, should hold the top-most position in your market segmentation strategy. A lot of money can be saved by carefully choosing the people who should see your ads and overall content in general.
5. Consider Working with Influencers
Micro-influencers and macro-influencers have taken over the digital industry in the last few years. Influencers may either be big celebrities or prominent bloggers. Whatever they are, the power of their reach must be optimally leveraged. This is by far the most affordable method of digital marketing on a limited budget because it typically costs nothing more than time. However, the key is to find the right influencer, and then, the possibilities are endless since you’d be targeting their pool of audience. Influencer marketing also helps in boosting brand name and enhancing brand reputation. Make sure you pick the influencers who are credible and respected in their field.
Budget, a Burden?
Forming a digital marketing budget is not a simple task. Agree or not, there are barely any fixed costs when it comes to digital marketing. In such a scenario, it’s hard to estimate the expenses needed for digital initiatives. That being said, the digital marketing budget should never be formed on the basis of previous year’s expenses, since it will lack the flexibility required to manage it effectively. So, the key is to not adapt to the “increase the digital marketing budget” approach but rather “spend smart on digital marketing” approach.
Authored by Shiraz Khan, Founder Director Spicetree Design Agency
Star Sports takes note of the overwhelming fan chatter around the 13th season of VIVO IPL; launches #KhelBolega TVC
The VIVO IPL fever caught on early this year with fan expectations and chatter pouring in months ahead of the start of the tournament; triggered further with the announcement of the schedule last week. In response to the heightened social media chatter that followed from fans who are questioning their heroes and team in the form of memes and comments; Star Sports, India’s leading sports broadcaster launched Khel Bolega, a TVC along with the BCCI.
Wearing their emotions on their sleeves each year die-hard fans stand by their teams and show up in droves hoping that each Season will be the year history is written. Royal Challengers Bangalore fans have waited for 12 seasons for their dynamic captain to end the drought and bring home the elusive trophy. Fans of Mumbai Indians want their swashbuckling captain to go beyond and break the jinx of just winning in odd numbered years. Whereas fans of Chennai Super Kings have waited long enough to watch their captain Thala or M.S. Dhoni on the cricket pitch again and hopefully lift the trophy this year.
Khel Bolega indicates that the coming season will clearly end the response to all the chatter (#BolBakar ) surrounding VIVO IPL when the player performances will speak for themselves – with the hashtag #KhelBolega, translated in English as – “The Game will do the Talking”. The performance by their favourite teams will also give fans a chance to silence all the #Bakar from opposing fans as well. The TVC, conceptualized by the in-house creative team of Star India, highlights the non-stop fan chatter and features plenty of colorful motifs and pop culture references symbolizing the pan India nature of the VIVO IPL. The fast-paced narration reflects the constantly changing chatter that develops around the VIVO IPL.
The film was released in multiple languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Bengali across TV and Digital and is a start to an integrated marketing communications campaign to the season. The 13th edition of the VIVO IPL will have an even bigger surround programming with specific fan-based content this year. Both non-live and franchise-based shows have been planned in the run up to the season, with special programming during the length of the tournament. Super Funday will also be back for VIVO IPL Season 13 with the show’s spotlight on kids’ who will have entertaining interactions with cricket experts and Bollywood celebrity guests.
The 13th edition of VIVO IPL which begins on March 29th, will be broadcast in multiple languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Bengali apart from English and #SelectDugout
Prabhat Choudhary takes over as business head
Reliance Entertainment has roped in noted marketing communications strategist, Prabhat Choudhary, to head World Wide Open (WWO), its in-house digital movie marketing & media buying arm.
World Wide Open is a digital marketing agency specializing in social media marketing & media buying for the film industry. Over the years, WWO has worked on digital campaigns of films like ‘Simmba’, ‘Golmaal Again’, ‘Veere Di Wedding’, ‘Super 30’, ‘Dear Zindagi’, ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’, ‘ Saand Ki Aankh’, ‘Rabta’, ‘Stree’, ‘Half Girlfriend’, ‘Parmanu’, and more. Besides being an agency on board for Reliance Entertainment, WWO has serviced production houses like Red Chillies Entertainment, Balaji Motion Pictures Limited, Maddock Films, Color Yellow, Sony Music India etc.
The agency is equipped to provide end-to-end digital marketing solutions including creative strategy, creation of media assets and inventory planning and buying and digital media planning and buying. In 2017, WWO was named the ‘Agency of the Year’ at the Asia Pacific Customer Engagement Forum and Awards (ACEF).
In 2019, the agency won the award for Best Interactive Piece of Content at Digies for the film, ‘Game Over’. WWO, known for its innovative marketing, launched the first-ever Target AR Filter in India and Bollywood, in print, for the film, ‘Super 30’.
China intensifies national drive to contain the epidemic
It remains uncertain when the outbreak of COVID-19 – the official new name for the coronavirus – will eventually peak. But China’s continually expanding steps to contain the virus do appear to be proving effective.
Last Friday, Chinese health authorities reported that the number of newly confirmed cases in mainland China – outside Hubei province – had declined for 10 consecutive days. Earlier, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that while the growth in cases had stabilized, it was critical to remain very cautious since the “outbreak could still go in any direction.”
This article provides an overview of the latest developments that companies should bear in mind – including the Chinese leadership’s evolving policy measures and appointment of new senior officials in Hubei province and Wuhan, the growing pressures on numerous sectors, the local media’s coverage of the epidemic, and deepening support from businesses for relief efforts.
As always, it concludes with key recommendations for management teams as they struggle to navigate the many risks presented during such difficult circumstances.
National agenda revolves around efforts to contain the epidemic
Managing the public health crisis is the overriding priority for China’s leadership; this means that containing the spread of COVID-19 now dominates the agenda for government agencies at all levels.
Last Friday, President Xi led a meeting of the Central Committee for Deepening Overall Reform where he called for strengthening the national management system for public health emergencies, emphasizing the importance of addressing shortcomings exposed by the current epidemic. He also stressed the important role to be played by digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing, in preventing and controlling such outbreaks. For instance, Chinese media have been reporting regularly on the deployment of high-tech solutions to help contain the virus – from disinfection robots in hospitals to drones spraying disinfectants at residential communities to a subway app launched by Beijing municipal authorities which allows local residents to quickly check passenger flows.
Earlier in the week, President Xi also presided over a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee which focused on containing the epidemic as well as ensuring economic stability and shoring up growth. Alleviating the challenges faced by businesses was a top priority, particularly for small- and medium-sized companies hit hard by the epidemic; a series of planned policy measures were discussed, including launching more targeted tax cuts, intensifying efforts to maintain employment, providing support for accelerating the production of foreign trade-oriented businesses, and more.
New local leaders appointed in Hubei and Wuhan
China’s central leadership also recently replaced the top local officials at the epicenter of the outbreak. Ying Yong, formerly the mayor of Shanghai, was appointed as the Party secretary of Hubei; Wang Zhonglin, previously the Party chief of Jinan, the capital of Shandong province, became the senior official in Wuhan.
The shakeup sent a strong signal about the gravity which Beijing views the epidemic as well as its determination to show the public how seriously accountability is taken within the political system.
Vulnerable sectors under growing pressure
The epidemic is already affecting a multitude of sectors to varying degrees; the ultimate impact on businesses will of course depend on how long the COVID-19 outbreak lasts.
But many major companies have continued to release warnings about their next-quarter performances. Global supply chains remain highly vulnerable to further disruptions, with thousands of factories in the world’s largest exporter yet to reopen. This is creating rising difficulties for many countries around the world, especially those which are among the most deeply embedded in Chinese supply chains, such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and South Korea.
Travel and tourism also count among the sectors hit hardest. Many international airlines have scaled back or halted altogether their flights to and from China; the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) projected that global airline revenues will drop by US$4 billion to US$5 billion in the first quarter of 2020.
The ongoing travel restrictions and flight reductions will have a deep impact on tourism – China ranks as the world’s leading contributor to global tourism numbers, with Chinese tourists making 150 million trips overseas in 2018. In the first quarter, the ICAO estimates that Japan and Thailand could lose US$1.29 billion and US$1.15 billion in tourism revenue, respectively, as a result of the abrupt fall in Chinese visitors.
And global luxury brands are particularly vulnerable. Chinese consumers are a huge force in the world’s US$300 billion luxury goods market, accounting for 35% of global spending as well as 90% of growth last year, according to a study by Bain & Company. The sector’s high exposure to China has meant that many fashion conglomerates continue to be heavily affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Kering Group, the owner of Gucci, Balenciaga, and other premium brands, has closed dozens of stores in China as consumers remain at home, while Estée Lauder has shut down around two-thirds of its stores in the market. Last week, Italian apparel brand Moncler said the number of shoppers visiting its China stores had plunged by 80%.
The cruise industry has also been contending with numerous cases of passengers being quarantined on ships after ports refused to allow them to disembark due to fears about infections. Global media have covered such controversies heavily, including those of the “World Dream” in Hong Kong and the “Diamond Princess” off the coast of Japan. Many cruise ship operators have been forced to cancel some sailings to destinations across the Asia-Pacific region.
For the auto sector, carmakers saw their China sales drop 18% to 1.94 million in January as concerns about the epidemic intensified. Last Friday, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) cautioned that new vehicle sales could fall by over 10% in the first half of 2020.
Energy is also among the sectors expected to be deeply affected. For instance, the COVID-2019 outbreak could significantly curb Chinese demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) due to slowing economic activity at home; China has accounted for 40% of global growth in LNG demand over the last five years.
Epidemic overwhelmingly dominates Chinese media coverage
The COVID-19 outbreak remains front and center in virtually all reporting across China’s media landscape. In particular, there is strong demand among Chinese outlets for positive stories emphasizing how the country has rallied together and detailing the progress being made to bring the epidemic under control. For brands and businesses, this provides a critical opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to supporting China at a very difficult time.
Chinese state-run media have also focused on countering the misinformation that often accompanies global health crises. For instance, China Daily has published a series of articles looking to debunk online rumors related to the virus before they spread too far – such as correcting inaccurate information about whether avoiding using cash or wearing contact lenses can reduce the likelihood of contracting the disease.
Business community broadens support for relief efforts
Amid incredibly challenging circumstances, Chinese and foreign companies have continued to expand their contributions to help mitigate the global health crisis. H+K China is proud to see many of our clients among the countless brands and businesses which are providing urgently needed support. Recent examples include:
Shell China donated 2 million yuan to the Wuhan Charity Federation. In addition, the company also gave 30 tons of medicinal alcohol to local hospitals in Hubei province.
JD Health launched a new online platform to help ensure patients with chronic diseases continue to have access to their drug supply, as part of JD.com’s highly diversified efforts to provide assistance. The Chinese e-commerce giant also unveiled its National Fresh Produce Channel to help farmers in need of new sales channels for their products during the epidemic.
Microsoft announced a second round of donations – including both cash and technology support – which raised the company’s total contribution to 45.8 million yuan, including 4.78 million yuan donated by employees. These commitments are assisting frontline hospitals and medical workers as well as helping to alleviate the outbreak’s impact on businesses, students, educational institutions, and partners.
Tencent pledged an additional 1 billion yuan to set up an Anti-Epidemic Fund, following the earlier launch of the company’s 300 million yuan Outbreak Response Fund and 200 million yuan Developer Support Alliance Fund. The new fund will be dedicated to helping provide medical supplies and technological support, assisting the infected and their families, improving medical facilities, conducting R&D focused on alleviating the epidemic, and more.
Communications strategies – Key recommendations
Navigating the risks presented by a global health crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak can prove incredibly challenging for brands and businesses, particularly from a communications perspective. Most importantly, they would be well-advised to embed the 3Cs of crisis communications – concern, control, and commitment – at the heart of their strategies.
What does this mean? Essentially, companies should shape their communications strategies to articulate the following to their business partners, other key stakeholders, consumers, and the media:
Concern: express empathy for all those dealing with a very complex and difficult situation
Control: indicate precisely what steps the company has taken at present to address the situation
Commitment: demonstrate the company’s broader determination to help resolve the crisis over the longer term
And why is it so important for brands and businesses to take this to heart? Simply put, those which follow the 3Cs often emerge from times of crisis with stronger connections with their target audiences; those which fail to bear them in mind will likely see their relationships strained or even seriously jeopardized.
So putting the 3Cs into action is critical. To help do so, here are some specific recommendations for companies during this difficult time.
Set up a core hub
Establish an internal team tasked with managing the company’s activities and communications in response to the health crisis;
Monitor daily all updates from Chinese authorities, the WHO, and other top health organizations
Follow closely how news is unfolding across both traditional and social media channels in today’s 24-hour news and digital media environment – in particular, don’t turn a blind eye to coverage and discussions taking place on China’s massive online platforms, such as WeChat and Weibo, which serve as hugely important sources of information for hundreds of millions of people.
Comply with government directives
Fully adhere to Chinese policies and follow official guidance with regards to business activities, such as the closure or resumption of operations;
Adapt the company’s 2020 business strategy for China accordingly.
Be transparent with employees
Provide timely and consistent updates on corporate policies vis-à-vis the epidemic;
Ensure staff understand that their safety and wellbeing is the company’s top priority;
Be clear about all safeguards and precautionary measures being taken on behalf of the workforce, such as flexible work arrangements and the provision of protective masks and gloves.
Keep messaging simple and factual
Only cite official information from government or health entities in public communications to avoid the risk of being perceived as spreading misinformation.
Engage actively with key stakeholders
Maintain regular communications with business and government stakeholders about corporate policies and activities vis-à-vis the outbreak;
If carrying out temporary closures or other disruptions to normal operations, ensure they are fully aware of the company’s plans to ensure business continuity going forward.
Contribute to efforts to fight the outbreak
For major corporates, adopt a multi-phased, diversified approach to supporting efforts to tackle the health crisis;
Donate funds and/or leverage unique business capabilities to create innovative assistance programs that truly stand out
Ensure continued follow-up to initial relief initiatives rather than relying on just a one-off commitment;
For those making donations, release a succinct external announcement which provides the most pertinent details, such as the amount of funds committed, the recipient entities and key beneficiaries, and what the donation aims to achieve, including quote(s) from the executive leadership team (China, regional, and/or global);
Demonstrate how the company is having a meaningful impact without appearing opportunistic – communications surrounding donations and other supportive initiatives must show a high degree of restraint to avoid backfiring by creating perceptions of insincerity and undermining the company’s credibility as a good corporate citizen (i.e. avoid any marketing around the company’s products or services; if they are integral to fulfilling an initiative’s objectives, then make a very clear connection between these capabilities and efforts to resolve the health crisis).