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How India can ramp up local offerings for the post-Covid-19 world

Innovation often comes on the back of disruptive changes, and we have seen some seismic shifts in the past decade that bear proof. From new business models such as food-tech and ride hailing apps to OTT platforms changing content consumption—there are examples of how disruptors have identified market gaps and came up with innovative solutions and services to emerge on the winning edge.

It cannot be denied that the pandemic has had a definite impact on the bottom-lines of many manufacturers, including that of consumer electronics, while signalling recessionary headwinds. The question remains whether companies can learn their lessons, spot new trends on the horizon and turn over a new leaf. In this context, the pandemic provides an inflection point from where new trends will take wings and old orders will be set aside in the ‘After Covid-19 World’.

If ‘Make in India’ for Indians was a motto before, ‘Make in India for the World’ needs to become the steadfast new anthem now. In fact, the Prime Minister called for a self-reliant India to reduce import dependency and encourage domestic production, in his speech to the nation on May 12. Local manufacturing capabilities can help brands, especially smartphones, to balance supplies and recover businesses much faster, in crises like this. Localisation of components such as screens, battery, packaging materials and other such ancillary products will help swifter recovery of the entire ecosystem.

We need to have advanced dialogues with partners in other countries to come, explore options and make India the springboard for globalisation. Not only will we be able to meet domestic demands, but also have a larger international footprint. With added impetus on ease of doing business, land availability to create large industrial belts and tax incentives we can encourage global manufacturers to view India as a viable option for production.

Consumer preferences can change quickly. Brands need to listen keenly and move at the speed of the consumer with a faster turn-around and indigenous strategy to fill the vacuum. To be sure, we are looking at large catchments of audiences who are probably going through job uncertainties, facing tremendous health scares and rightly want to rein in their purse strings and aspirational spending, to save for the future. As such, luxury and indulgent purchases will take a backseat as Indian consumer tastes will take a more utilitarian turn—opting for value for money buys that meet their needs without compromising on ownership experience.

Smartphone brands, specifically, will look to offer a large number of feature packed and value-added offerings at more affordable price points. With consumer attitude and consumption becoming more cautious, brands will innovate to elevate their buying journeys without compromising on quality. Developing innovative products while giving an all-round experience in the budget segment is the key that will be able to win customers faster.

Retailers will focus on creating meaningful digital experiences to satisfy young, tech-savvy consumers. Offline retailers need to digitise their relationship with customers while doing business going forward. Online business, owing to its contactless nature, will become a new practise for all brands. We will see more research and innovation in developing Augmented Reality kits for buyers to try products virtually without stepping out of the comfort and safety of their homes. Technologies like smart stores, smart beacons, shopping through mobile wearables will create satisfying experiences for consumers without endangering their physical safety. E-commerce brands will ramp up focus on NLP-driven chatbots and machine-learning powered engines to make personalised recommendations and curate everything at the fingertips of the buyers

We are just scaling the tip of Everest here. Once the pandemic subsides and a new era unfolds, businesses will spring into action, go into revival mode and plan for the future. As the great Chinese strategist, philosopher and writer Sun Tzu had famously said, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Covid-19 has had vast implications on businesses across the world, shortening life-cycles of many. Building long-term sustainability by spotting future trends and working towards realising them will ensure longevity and resilience, rather than short-term focus on gaining pure velocity.-Forbes India

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