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Like other businesses across industries, Livspace too witnessed a significant impact during Q1 of FY’21. Varun AR talks to Social Samosa about the brand’s coping mechanism, key markets, and the changing consumer pattern across the home interior category.

With people realizing the importance of home as per their needs in the ‘new normal’, Livspace’s aim was to ride the wave during the recovery phase to capitalize on pent-up demand. We get in conversation with Varun AR, AVP, Brand Marketing, Livspace to know at length how the company optimized its reach to grab more potential consumers during the lockdown, challenges, key campaigns, digital marketing strategy, and more.

Excerpts:

The tables of marketing were turned when the pandemic hit the globe. What did the marketing blueprint look like for Livspace?

Our primary challenge was to effectively reach out to customers who were postponing their home interiors by offering a proposition that would snap them out of their inertia.

Interestingly, the pandemic also brought a paradigm shift in media consumption habits of consumers across segments. As geographical differences blurred due to deeper digital adoption, we noticed a significant increase in category search not just in tier 1 markets but also in tier 2 markets. This paved the way for an accelerated expansion in multiple T2 markets.

Further, to shift the momentum in Q2, we launched the Livspace Advantage campaign. It offered the flexibility of lower booking fees, a no-cost EMI advantage, and a price match guarantee. The program was launched to alleviate any concerns homeowners had, which led to postponing their purchase decisions.

What were the implications of the pandemic-induced restrictions on the interior decor industry as a whole and Livspace specifically- business, growth, consumer retention?

With health and safety gaining center-stage, at an industry level, customers leaned towards organized and trusted brands for getting home interiors done vis-à-vis the unorganized sector. A significant shortage of labor and input materials in the market because of nationwide restrictions further accelerated this trend.

The interior decor industry is a people-intensive business. Pre-pandemic, our business conversion conventionally used to happen at our Experience Centres across cities. However, with deeper digital adoption last year, we shifted gears and moved all our meetings online on the proprietary platform Canvas. This simplified the entire project planning process for both the designers and consumers. Along with this, our vast online catalog helped customers in making better decisions.

Lastly, we proactively kept customers informed on the status of their project and highlighted all the safety protocols that we had implemented. This further built confidence in the brand and surety that their home interiors were on track.

How has social media been helpful in engaging with your consumers? Which platform has yielded maximum results for the brand?

With the restrictions brought on by the pandemic, we witnessed a sweeping change in media consumption habits of consumers across segments. There was a significant shift from mobile to TV viewing at home. We wanted to capture our core audience of affluent households right at home, hence; we took content live on YouTube, which gave us reach to our core audience apart from over-indexing on Connected Television.

How did you decide on your current content hooks on traditional and digital platforms?

While we have a huge content bank owing to the exciting industry we are in, it’s critical for us that every content hook clearly ties back to our business – whether it’s an ad or an Instagram post, or a blog. Another key aspect of deciding on content is to solve for the reader/consumer.

I believe every content piece should educate them about the brand or help them solve a problem regarding home interiors and renovation. This also accelerates the consumers’ journey from discovery to paying customers.

Content and Influencer marketing have found a prominent presence in every marketer’s guide. How has Livspace leveraged the trends? How often do you engage with influencers and what has been the result?

Absolutely. Influencers have become a core part of all our 360-degree campaigns. They help us reach a new audience and deliver the message in a manner that is unique to each influencer. They reinforce the overall campaign and key message.

Using a targeted marketing approach along with the influencer ecosystem, we are now connecting with precise consumer segments with tailored storytelling and customized messaging. This has not only helped us drive positive conversations but also create a loyal community of customers.

A lot has been said about Tier II & Tier III consumers being the focal point of economic revival. What is your opinion on the same? How do you plan to connect with these consumers through marketing/advertising?

We truly believe that tier II and III are critical growth levers for Livspace. Our expansion over the last 12 months has predominantly been in these markets and we plan to continue to expand into many more such markets in the near future.

With increased internet penetration and the consequent exposure, we are seeing the rising aspirations to upgrade the lifestyle quotient. Homeowners in these cities also want their homes to look a certain way, reflecting their unique personalities. We have started investing in building our brand in all these markets since July 2021. We will launch unique campaigns alongside our experience centers and stores to strengthen connect with the audience and build recall for the brand.

Also Read: Interview: Social selling has proven beneficial for Nourish and Bail Kolhu says, Richa Khandelwal, BL Agro

How would you define the ‘Marketer of Today’? How much of your marketing skills have evolved with the changing times?

Marketing as a function has undergone a sea change, yet, at the core of marketing, nothing hasn’t changed. Why do I say so? Today, customers consume content through multiple channels. As a result, the conventional marketing funnel isn’t linear anymore. Therefore, being relevant to the consumer at each stage of their journey has become critical.

Further, with the onset of multiple new channels, content formats have evolved, making it a complex task for creating a brand that is consistent across platforms. At the same time, with all of this evolution, the essence of understanding the consumer and translating it into marketing strategy and communication hasn’t changed.

Top 3 tips you would like to share with the industry leaders for marketing in the category in the post-COVID world?

  • Customers have reached an ad fatigue – all brands have some sort of COVID-19 advertisement going on – be it purpose-driven ads or non-purpose-driven ads. However, customers see right through this trend. So for brands, it is best to actually take care of their employees and offer solutions that might help customers during/post the pandemic rather than being a me-too brand riding on the COVID-19 ad trend
  • Trust is a far bigger currency than ever before. Winning customer’s trust has become even more difficult. Therefore, it is even more important, in fact, imperative for brands to be authentic
  • During Covid-19, people are not only increasingly buying online, they expect to perform other tasks and access services as well. Therefore, I think it is important for brands to definitely have e-services as part of their business solutions

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