Television and Brand Communication in The New Normal!

Shivani Srivastava
Consultant - Marketing PR & Corp Comm. at MoMAGIC

Ever since the announcement of lockdown on March 24h, 2020 in India – approx. 120 days of restricted movement and social distancing, the new normal – traditional, digital & social media trends show a marked change in the habits, preferences and consumption patterns of the consumer.

During the initial days, of the lockdown, the strategy by Doordarshan and other Broadcasters to air old movies, serials and classics, helped the channel(s) draw the audience – establishing a connect and take a lead, despite the dominance of social media and Internet based platforms with customize content for each segment of audience. It is interesting to see how most of the OTT platforms are advertising on TV to draw audiences but the narrative built in media is – OTT is reigning!

BARC data shows that DD National viewership was higher than the combined viewership of the rest of the Hindi general entertainment channels – during the airing of classics- ‘Ramayan’, ‘Mahabharata’.  This initial pull to the medium, and its continued surge has to be thought through in context to the socio-economic challenges being experienced in the current times, that has many of us getting back to valuing family time and simple lifestyle – enjoying coming together of a family, at the dinner or in living rooms, resulting into, more and more people watching TV, than ever before.  So much so that we have recently Netfilx scaling its pricing to Rs 199 to enfold the TG, which is not ‘premium’!

TV has emerged as the preferred choice for viewing including for children –kids too (maximum viewers, a sizable 46 per cent, that are between 2 and 14 years who lead the surge in TV viewing); hence undoubtedly, TV is the way forward for Brand Communication and Advertising, other than social media and Radio.   Interestingly News, followed by entertainment programs and Children’s program are the most watched as per the data released.

Social media, is also undeniably a part of everyday life – probably the easiest way to keep all connected with one another; brands will have to be observant of the trends abuzz on social media to have their campaigns & commercials in sync with the sentiments for a better emotional connect with the consumer – the key for any brand communication success, more so in the ‘uncertain’ times we are in… and this is the only ‘certainty’ we live in!

TV may not have rendered mobile or smartphone useless, but has certainly made an impact over other platforms, and is probably there to stay, with the ‘new normal’! 

Industry surveys also talk about the surge in demand for traditional media such as TV, Radio and newspapers. Mumbai-based Enormous Brands mentions 43% of high-income households regard cable TV rather than OTT as their primary source of entertainment, and 13% have reactivated their DTH/cable subscription. The report also brings in good news for newspaper publishers because about three-quarters (74%) of Indian consumers say they miss their daily newspaper and are waiting for the service to resume. While 29% have moved to reading newspapers online, only 4% say would unsubscribe from hard copy versions.  The latest data released by BARC on TV and Smartphone consumption corroborates the fact; the average daily reach of TV gone up from 560 Million to 627 million (a 12% increase) and number of people watching TV all seven days a week increased to 47 per cent during lockdown from 32 per cent. Daily time spent per user going up to 4 hours and 48 minutes, from 3 hours and 46 minutes (during the pre covid19 time).

Advertisers – marketers – brand heads, who had given a pause to their marketing and branding budgets in the initial period of the lockdown, to understand the changed scenario are steadily back to business – and TV seems to be the best bet; analytics also shows that TV, when paired with other channels in the same publisher ecosystem, helps to generate a multiplier effect.

In the wake of the new normal that is here to stay, Brand communication will have to have a high quotient of sensitivity and emotional connect and be real. Sync with the basic tenor of Television- a medium that reaches masses and yes a tap on the trends abuzz on social media to keep itself relevant and in sync to their domain and area of expertise.

The strategy has to shift away from increasing revenue or adding customers to engagement- retention, with an emotional -human connect and high on sensitivity. In an environment of stress, uncertainty and anxiety, consumer may not be in a right frame of mind, hence the communication should have empathy, concern, gratitude and not an out and out buy -sell communication. Brands that work  towards building a relationship, without talking transactions and deliver a sense of joy and comfort , will surely benefit the most!

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