The term “unprecedented” took the world by storm in 2020 and 2021 as we navigated prolonged lockdowns, embraced vaccine roll-out, and finding our foot in the digital space during the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities worldwide were left puzzled in a rollercoaster of emotions, which consequently shifted the way they connect and interact with the world around them within a short period of time. Focus was repositioned from self-fulfillment to fulfilling health and safety, whereas connection and relationship-building took on a new meaning across the globe. For businesses, this means that they must rapidly evolve with this shift in consumer behaviour, or risk losing their consumers’ trust over time.
Prior to the pandemic, consumer journeys can be predicted rather easily. The 9 to 5 commutes during the day and engage in social media consumption during the evening. When COVID-19 struck, businesses were unprepared for the overnight turnaround changes that took place, as there were lags in figuring out the relevant strategies to cater to consumers’ psychological and attitudinal change. This led to gaps in the market where consumers felt that they were being let down by brands they believe in. As supported by the Edelmen Trust Barometer in 2020, trust levels towards corporations dropped significantly when compared to previous years.
Responding to this change, the Axiata Group conglomerate took a step back to reassess and reset priorities to connect and foster a more authentic connection with consumers beyond transactional means. As a result, Axiata emerges as the Top 10 Most Loved Brand in Asia by Talkwalker, ranking in the same group as the likes of Mercedes, Spotify, Netflix, and many more.
With a 25% increase of social media usage during lockdowns across all of Axiata’s markets, it was a signal for the Group to leverage its readily-available digital presence. By utilising tools for social listening, Axiata Group managed to capture real-time conversations and curate strategies based on these 3 principles:
⦿ Listen: Listen and empathise with the consumers. Truly putting the brand in consumer’s shoes and trying to understand how they view the world around them.
⦿ Staying Present: Being proactive in picking up trending topics on the go and curating novel content strategies to focus on important topics in the “now”.
⦿ Be Relevant: Communication messages need to be personally relevant, aligned to the consumer’s current situation and values as opposed to the general adage of demographic targeting based on gender and age.
These 3 principles were the guided mantras for all communication initiatives that took place during the pandemic.
With these principles in place, Axiata Group ensures that on an executional level, they were adopted thoroughly and practiced across regions. Brand-love reinforcement strategies include:
1. Capture the heart share of consumers
By comprehending local context accordingly, Axiata Group showcased the human side of the brand via these measures:
2. Showcasing brand purpose with meaningful messages
Bespoke messaging and content customisation tailored to local context sparked meaningful conversations amongst Axiata consumers, which in return boosted Axiata’s position as the most loved brand. Social media postings such as Aspirasi Assist, Axiata Arena PPV Centre, and XL Axiata 4.5G (Indonesia) were amongst the most notable mentions across the web.
3. Rethinking and redefining experience
The pandemic has reinforced what businesses has already known: staying true to the brand purpose. That means businesses must deliver meaning at each consumer touch point to truly meet consumers’ skyrocketing expectations during the pandemic. Axiata Group took this meaning of the new normal by reframing current initiatives to connect with relevant conversations at a particular point in time.
The statement, “Advancing Asia through Technology, Innovation, and Creativity”, was expressed meticulously via eCommerce, eLearning, health, and work from home (WFH) initiatives across the board. By embracing current scenarios, it creates a more authentic connection with consumers, delivering feelings of joy and empathy which boosted our brand love.
For these 3 strategies, what stood out the most was the ability to deliver the impact quickly via the Collective Brain Operating Model. As each market were impacted at a different degree due to the pandemic, they were able to collate a blueprint from each respective market. The centralised blueprint was later shared and adapted to the needs of the local market.
Axiata’s success as the Top 10 Most Loved Brand across Asia portrayed the effective utilisation of data and how it transformed and created positive domino effects to communities and corporates alike.
The success of this campaign demonstrates the value of ADA’s data-first approach to deliver impactful business value for clients.