Post Covid world will present the biggest challenge for marketers: Tarun Jha, Head of Marketing and Product, ŠKODA AUTO

In the immediate aftermath, marketers will also have to invest in capacities and capabilities to deliver consultation and advice remotely writes Jha.


My father was born a few years before the outbreak of World War II. He grew up in a city in the north of British India, which was home to two large army cantonments and also an air-force base used by the Royal Air Force during the war. As kids, we heard romanticised stories of air-raids and black-outs from my father. He did not speak anything about the hardships that they may have faced. He was too young to possibly remember civil-supplies and food-shortages. His family was decidedly rich enough to not let the children feel deprived.

After the war, his elder brothers and cousins went to the United Kingdom to study to become burra sahibs. This is where they experienced post-war rationing and shortages first hand. Life was not easy for foreign students. Their accounts and stories of those post-war days were not romantic.

War is not romantic. What we are facing these days in the form of an epidemic is a war against an invisible enemy, and it is not romantic either.

We, as Marketers, and the world at large will have to re-think, reboot and revive. We will have to look differently at how we do our businesses. We will have to look at our customers very differently too. The key aspects to consider, in my opinion, are the redefined priorities of our customers and what they hold more important for themselves and their families. 

With an aim to rebuild businesses and finances, will the customers indulge themselves with a new house, a new car, a larger television set, or would they rather postpone these expensive purchases for later? If yes, then how much later? 

How will these customers behave in the new world towards retail experiences and the established modes of delivery? Will they throng to malls, shopping centres, restaurants and cinemas once the threat perception is lower, or will they rather stay home, stay safe and expect the delivery of the experience at their doorstep? I guess we will have to go where the customer feels safe and not attempt in vain to draw them back to our establishments. This will surely increase incidences and opportunities in e-commerce. This will also lead to an increase in the levels of cleanliness and hygiene at establishments, for the customer may rate this as an important criteria for granting us her custom.

In the immediate aftermath, marketers will also have to invest in capacities and capabilities to deliver consultation and advice remotely. We as a brand have experimented with video consultation for some of our products and are very happy with the encouraging response. The Covid-19 crisis will accelerate the implementation of this programme much quicker and wider than it was thought a few months ago.

More than the physical aspects of doing business, we marketers will have to look at the softer, emotional and human aspects too. What do customers coming out of a traumatic, life-threatening, global crisis want? What do they want to hear? Do they want to look pretty and buy stuff to impress the neighbours or do they want safety and security for the family? Do they want to indulge and reward themselves or do they want to underplay the self and think more for the society? Will this crisis teach us the joys of simplicity and quietude or will we go out and loudly celebrate the passing of the crisis. We don’t know with certainty. Maybe it is a mix of all of this. Maybe it is something else.

For us marketers, this may be the big challenge in our careers we were waiting for. There will be a lot of seeing, hearing and smelling we will have to do in the coming days. We will have to keep our eyes, ears and noses open, once the face masks are off. Post-war rehabilitation and reconstruction is tough work.

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