Our guest author says that D2C brands are charging ahead to be at the forefront of the communication industry today.
If you shop online, there is a high chance that at some point in time, you may have bought from a brand directly. There is a massive shift in the market, wherein brands are moving towards the D2C business model and eliminating the middleman. The impact of direct engagement with the consumer reflects in high profits and great brand positioning.
Customer feedback has played a vital role in guiding brands to make pivotal changes in their businesses over time. However, the most important touchpoint in this relationship between the brand and the customer is the communication that happens between the two.
As a corporate communication professional, when deciding what to communicate and how to communicate, the first thing that comes to mind is what I would expect as a consumer. Interacting with a brand directly involves a significant amount of trust from the consumer, hence, complete transparency is of top priority.
Keeping that in mind, communicating about business developments in a consistent manner becomes instrumental in strengthening the bond between the seller and the buyer. Be it a product-related development like a new launch or a sale, or a business-related development like getting funding, scaling up, branching out to new locations, etc., consistency and transparency are key.
To bring consumers onboard is just one part of this journey, but retaining them is even more challenging. Repeat sales are a business’ lifeblood, hence, it is important to ensure that your customer experience is of top quality. Personalized communication, management of customer queries and redressal of user complaints in a timely fashion become essential in this space.
Communication and social media teams come together to ensure user engagement is actively monitored on all public platforms, and action is taken against any critical issue raised. The reputation of a brand is priceless, hence, managing the same and keeping it intact is of paramount significance.
Once you are able to establish that bond, customer stickiness is definite. But it comes with a lot of responsibility. While users today can be very loyal to certain brands, they are undoubtedly becoming more conscious with each passing day and are not hesitant to try out new avenues that offer them choices that cater to their needs.
For instance, in the beauty business, users are consciously looking for products that are vegan and cruelty-free. In the process, they are also willing to try new and local brands that have products in the category. When planning to communicate to such consumers, it becomes vital to highlight these aspects in products and strategise to keep them at the forefront of any content you create.
In fact, knowledge sharing on such topics by brands in the form of YouTube content, regular press notes and highlighting them on the website and apps have increased customer loyalty. By creating the belief that consumers are being heard, and their feedback and changing choices are being incorporated into new product lines, brands are able to reduce customer churn, increase word of mouth recommendations and add to their list of brand advocates.
While most of these are activities on the practical side of the business, we can never underrate the power of the ‘human touch’ when making a holistic communication plan. The ‘people’ part of the plan entails everything required to tap into the emotional side of the consumer to further strengthen the bond that has been created. Real life stories from customers have been designed into campaigns from time to time to establish relatability.
Even in rough situations like the (COVID) pandemic, many D2C brands came forward and contributed to the welfare of the masses. Acts like these when communicated to consumers, allow them to feel the impact created by the brand. A simple note on the website, or an email communication on the cause, an open letter seeking support from consumers to help raise funds, or directly contributing to the cause and inspiring consumers to also do so through social media and other channels are some methods of keeping people informed and aware about their activities.
Be it talking about the business to the press, sharing slices of life through campaigns and TVCs, highlighting their CSR efforts, creating buzz consistently on social media or planning a larger-than-life PR activity, D2C brands are charging ahead to be at the forefront of the communication industry today. Individual brands are trying to make their own space in a crowded market and strategic communication play a vital role in their success.
Each day brings a new experience and for a PR person, there is never a dull moment. Having said that, the challenge to position the brand in a cluttered market can certainly test the mettle of the best.
(The author is Srabani Sen, communications lead at a leading fin-tech firm)