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The New Marketing – Brand Purpose First, by Babyshop’s Mitin Chakraborty

By Mitin Chakraborty, head of marketing at Babyshop

Covid-19 has truly been an unparalleled episode to learn from, and we are not done with it yet. The market went through a massive shake-up and it’s been interesting to observe the changing consumer behaviour during these times. From what started as a “no-no” to shopping at the beginning of the pandemic, to the relatively smooth transition to online purchase, and now to a recovery phase with much higher buying confidence, these changes have brought about an unprecedented amount of challenges to businesses and to us as marketers.

On the business front, we saw a disproportionate surge of customer migration to our e-commerce store. Our call centre and social-care teams were inundated with queries on how to shop online, how to checkout, etc., signalling a tribe of new digital adopters. Customers too were going through a whirlwind of emotions during the lockdown, so staying agile and adapting to the needs of the market was a winning strategy for any businesses. In our case, being a purpose-led brand also called for a higher degree of empathy and responsibility to support our community of parents.

On the marketing side, we stayed nimble too. Our focus, for the first few weeks, remained on communicating and keeping our customers informed of all business updates. Our next key priority was to ensure we had a prompt response mechanism across our online and offline customer service platforms to serve customer queries, and our third priority was to ensure that our business partners and agencies were reassured of our commitment to those partnerships.

Given our strength in customer and data insights, we were mostly on top of understanding the shifts in customer missions – category priorities, value drivers, motivators, etc. – which was ably supported by a strong communication strategy, with care and empathy at the core of the plan. Our partners, FP7 McCann, turned out extraordinary pieces of communication – from category-led creatives to brand-purpose led statements, which were widely appreciated by our customers. Media focus shifted towards digital, given the changes in content consumption and shifts in customer journeys.

These have been tough times, so it’s hard and unfair to critique any actions or decisions that didn’t work. However, I’ll share that my biggest learning has been in leadership and customer management. I could never be more proud of the leadership at our group — the agility, empathy and customer- centricity that we have maintained as an organisation. The leadership at Babyshop too has been truly inspiring and optimistic. The support received at every step further bolstered our decisions, and I am glad I was able to contribute and learn from this team.

With all this said, another important learning that the crisis has validated is the need to reflect on a brand’s true reason to exist – its brand purpose. And that has never been more important in a brand’s lifecycle.

Now, our marketing efforts continue to adapt to the shifting customer journeys and the evolving market dynamics. We continue to work smarter on building efficiencies across our business and brand, and remain cautious as we move on this uncertain path, together with the rest of the world. Some of the initial signs of the changing market habits seem to be very encouraging and I am hopeful we’ll see a recovery earlier than expected.

The piece of advice I wish I’d known in February is: I wish I had read the book that predicted the pandemic.

On a serious note, I think no advice would have prepared us enough to manage a crisis of this magnitude. For our generation this was unthinkable. What’s important, though, is that we learn from this and stay better prepared for the future. Let’s build a world we all deserve.