Digital Marketing in the Times of Pandemic – The Challenges and Opportunities
Associate Professor at Woxsen University
The Novel Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic has completed one full year of rampage across the World. The dangerous virus that originated in the city of Wuhan in November 2019 quickly spread to Italy, Greece and Spain and then the rest of the World. The coronavirus has infected 65 million people and killed 15 lakh people till now. The rampant spread of coronavirus forced Governments to announce measures for social distancing, lockdowns and restrictions on travel. That, in turn, forced companies to go for strategies like adopting work-from-home mode and going aggressive on digital marketing.
The fear of pandemics and confinement at home has actually increased the usage of mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and gadgets and the consumption and use of social media. A study was conducted by Hammerkopf Consumer Survey, which was conducted across 1,300 people, in Mumbai, Bengaluru, New Delhi, and Chennai to find the internet usage during the lockdown.
The study found that before the lockdown, social media usage was on average 150 minutes per day. However, in the first week of lockdown, the figures jumped to 280 minutes per day, showed the survey. The survey added that 75 percent of people were spending more time on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp compared to the week before. In social media, people were largely consuming news and communicating with their friends and families as coronavirus grappled the country. Internet browsing saw a 72 percent spike during the first week of lockdown.
This spike in internet usage also brought about a ray of opportunity for digital marketers. The Edtech companies were the most aggressive with companies like BYJU, Whitehat Jr and Upgrad promoting their educational modules through digital marketing. Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal and Big Basket also capitalized on the fact that physical retail chains like Big Bazaar, Reliance, Spencers and More had to stop their operations due to the lockdown restrictions. Healthcare companies like Practo, 1mg and Netmeds also promoted their services through digital marketing to offer sanitizers, masks and healthcare products.
The pandemic saw the requirement of mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and electronic gadgets skyrocketing as offices were operating through work-from-home mode and schools, colleges and universities were taking classes on online mode. This saw company like Lenovo, Hewlett Packard, Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Real me going for advertising their products through digital marketing.
The consumption of digital entertainment and online games were also on the rise. The banning of Tiktok and PubG, along with many other apps of Chinese origin, lead to the rise of their Indian counterparts. Netfix, Amazon Prime and Disney Hotstar also saw their popularity rise during this period. These are also the companies that used Digital marketing to a large extent.
Digital Marketing was a challenge for small and medium enterprises, start-ups and shops that were selling products through a physical mode. Tours and Travel, Hotels, Restaurants and Beauty Salons were mostly not conspicuous during this period as their business had suffered considerable losses due to lockdown. Zomato, Swiggy and Oyo did make a brave effort to redeem the situation to a certain extent by giving exciting offers through digital marketing, but the results were not very encouraging.
Digital Marketing is both a challenge and an opportunity during situations of a pandemic. And it is companies who have a judicious strategy of harnessing the power of digital media that reaps dividends in the long run.