Home >Industry >Advertising >SMB advertising takes a hit; businesses tap social media to stay relevant
Businesses in verticals such as education, leisure, health and even retail, are showing resilience and innovation through digital. Photo: Bloomberg
Businesses in verticals such as education, leisure, health and even retail, are showing resilience and innovation through digital. Photo: Bloomberg

SMB advertising takes a hit; businesses tap social media to stay relevant

  • Covid-19 impact would have a cascading effect even when the lockdown is over and would spill into the second half of the year
  • It has impacted not only cash flows of these businesses but labour and supply chain as well

New Delhi: Small and medium businesses, a strong advertiser category so far, reduced mass media ad spends by over 35% and digital spends by 25% since February as coronavirus outbreak hit their operations hard.

Experts believe the covid-19 impact would have a cascading effect even when the lockdown is over and would spill into the second half of the year. It has impacted not only cash flows of these businesses but the labour and supply chain as well.

According to Sujata Dwibedy, group trading director, Amplifi, Dentsu Aegis Network India, the main purpose of advertising for small businesses is to have a recall value.

"The theory of hiatus and ad stock is that people start forgetting communications and, in this case, also brands with no action or activity beyond a certain period of absence depending on the product category. So, it is important for them to be in news, to be relevant and to be in top of mind when the consumer thinks about their category," she said.

Google, which works with over 23 million SMBs in India, said businesses, for instance in verticals such as education, leisure, health and even retail, are showing resilience and innovation through digital.

“They’re rethinking ways to provide value with digital experiences to their end customers and are using online advertising to keep their current and potential customers up to date. Even micro retailers are using digital to communicate the information that they think is most relevant to their users during this time, like changes to their offerings, inventory, delivery services or working hours," said Shalini Girish, Google India director- Google Customer Solutions.

More than 140 million small businesses across the globe use Facebook family of apps every month. Recently, the social media firm has announced $100 million grant to support 30,000 small businesses globally after Coronavirus outbreak impacted small businesses.

“We’ve launched a Business Resource Hub that can guide SMBs on what they should immediately do to navigate through the challenges. We’ve also started virtual formats for many of our key skilling and mentoring programs. We also continue to work closely with our advertisers to support them with customized business solutions and guidance that they require right now," said Archana Vohra, director, Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) at Facebook India.

With halted deliveries and operations, consumer focused small businesses such as skin care startups (Mama Earth), Instagram handloom stores (India Ethnic Co.) as well as multiple independent restaurants (Cross Border Kitchens) have been spending advertising money across social media platforms to stay connected with consumers offering discounts, safety content and pushing products to be delivered post lockdown.

"Amidst the lockdown, our brand is continuing to engage with its customers, taking pre-orders with plans of processing them once the lockdown is removed. Obviously, the volume of orders has reduced in comparison to the pre-lockdown period but we have kept our ads running, and we are focusing more on brand building and awareness considering the time spent on social media has increased. It's heartening to see people still ordering, and willing to wait for the delivery." Lekhinee Desai, founder of Mumbai-based handloom brand The Indian Ethnic Co. which operates through Instagram and Facebook promotions.

Ishita Yashvi and Ahsaan Qureshi, co-founders of Cross Border kitchens, an an internet-driven food and beverage company said they are continuing to fund the discount that's running on aggregator apps -- Zomato and Swiggy.

"Instagram remains to be a crucial platform for us - be it owned, user-generated or influencer-lead content. Another very important part of our messaging is our safety and hygiene standards - we are using a lot of behind the scene videos and photographs to showcase our backend operations with transparency," they added.

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