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Saturday June 3rd, 2023

Agility, being customer-centric key to post-pandemic success, Sri Lanka marketers say

ECONOMYNEXT – Agility, adaptability and customer centric decisions will be the key to success in post-pandemic marketing as brands shift from a health emergency environment to aggressive and creative practices, industry representatives said.

Customers are expected to shift from an environment where safety and guaranteed delivery are prioritied over price points to placing more emphasis on values and sustainability.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has resulted in changes to advertising, marketing, promotional and media spending.

This has forced businesses and brands to re-evaluate their thinking about current and future advertising and marketing campaigns to maintain a steady stream of income.

While brands currently seek to strike the right tone during the global health emergency, the future portends market alteration, increased competition and a demand for creative and aggressive marketing practices.

“We now live in a world in w hich consumer state is changing rapidly,” Shalin Balasuriya, co-founder of Spa Ceylon told a forum on ‘Marketing in Post pandemic world’ organised by EconomyNext and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

“Brands need to be on alert on how to do their brands with things changing. The big approach here is a deep understanding of what you have in terms of resources and a deep understanding of what your consumers’ state is.”

Balasuriya’s spas say they offer extensive menus consisting of more than 25 signature treatments inspired by Sri Lanka’s rich Ayurveda heritage and centuries-old Sri Lankan royal health and wellbeing rituals practiced in the grand palaces of ancient Ceylon.

He said markets, the narrative to brand a product, and the way companies connected with customers have changed during the pandemic along with changes in consumption patterns, lifestyle, the way people travel, and how they enjoy their leisure.

“But the connection was still maintained,” Balasuriya said. “If you stay connected with the customers and stay relevant, no matter whatever changes. Having an agile mindset is what is going to get there.”

During the pandemic, Spa Ceylon was able to expand with new outlets in five countries and changed to online selling to face the changes, Balasuriya said.

Customers change

The time since the pandemic started has revealed that consumer perspectives have changed globally, surprising businesses. Security and stability were prioritized over price points, disrupting previously-held notions.

Concerns over safety, guaranteed delivery, and business sustainability ethics have also surfaced.

Another way that post-pandemic marketing will be different is in the need for companies to ‘hyperfocus’ on who exactly is their target audience is and what they want.

Customers now expect an enormous amount from the brands they love and rely on. They have high expectations and know exactly what they want and when they want it.

This need has created an environment where customer loyalty towards brands has been tested.

“I think the number one priority is to optimise the customer experience,” Jayomi Lokuliyana, Co-founder and Chief Executive, zMessenger said.

“When you optimise your customer experience, you can grow faster than your competitors, you can be on top of the customers’ record, and you can predict their behavior before even they start their consumer journey.”

She says companies have to capture customers’ digital footprints with their brand and also outside the company to have an insight about consumers.

“That is going to be a huge challenge in predicting their behavior,” Lokuliyana says.

More challenges

Companies now have to cater to the needs of customers who are gradually shifting to live within their budget, focusing less on brands and more on product functionality.

Concerns over health amid the pandemic with choosing products they trust to be safe and minimising risks in the way that they shop are among marketing challenges that will have to be considered.

The pandemic has also forced people to think about sustainability; hence buying brands that minimise their impact on the environment and buying from organisations they find to be honest and transparent.

Loyalty, technology, talent pool, and risk taking ability will be other strategies the companies will have carefully consider in post-pandemic marketing, if they want to succeed.

“COVID has taught us quite a bit on how to layer our marketing, in a way that we can talk to multiple people like talking to them individually, but do it at the same time, and continue to test and adjust,” Balasuriya said.

Values could also be one of the keys in the post-pandemic environment for companies to be unique from their competitors.

Nike’s controversial commercial which said “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” was criticised by many. But the same commercial recognised the US-based company’s value.

Experts suggest that values and stances of companies will also matter in the future marketing.

“I don’t think we have businesses you can go around being sentimental about everything,” Rohan Jayaweera, Co-founder, Antyra Solutions told the forum.

“I think there has to be a point where you have to take a stance.”

Balasuriya says brands should connect their stance on championing a cause to create a value successfully. (Colombo/Sep04/2021)

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Sri Lanka to ramp up weekend fuel deliveries after petrol price cut

More deaths reported at Sri Lanka fuel queues

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation will be operating on the weekend to complete all fuel deliveries to end vehicle queues forming outside fuel stations after the price revision earlier in the week, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.

“Instructions have been given to CPC and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals to continue fuel deliveries on Saturday and Sunday this week to supply sufficient stocks to all fuel stations,” Minister Wijesekera said in a TWITTER.COM MESSAGE

“To reduce expenses on overtime, CPC and CPSTL have not been operating on Sundays and public holidays in the last 4 months,” Wijesekera said.

“Non-placement of orders by fuel stations from last Saturday, anticipating a price reduction, not maintaining minimum stocks, immediate increase in demand by consumers after the price revision, and quota increase have created shortages in the fuel stations.”

The Minister in April 2023 said all fuel stations would be required to maintain a minimum of 50 percent of stock tank capacity.

“I have asked CPC to review and suspend the license of fuel stations that had not maintained minimum stocks.” (Colombo/ June 02/ 2023)

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Sri Lanka bonds yield up at close, rupee at 291.75/292.50 against the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bonds closed steady on Friday, dealers said, following the central bank’s decision to cut its main policy rate by 250 basis points.

The Spot US dollar closed at 291.75/292.50 rupees, dealers said.

The rupee opened at 290.25/75 to the US dollar Thursday and closed at 292.50/295.50 to the US dollar.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 24.70/90 percent up from 24.50/90 percent a day earlier, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 25.75/26.25 percent up from 25.00/26.00 percent a day earlier.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2025 closed at 27.00/30 percent, up from 26.30/27.00 per cent at last close.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 20.25/21.00 percent, up from 20.00/40 per cent at last close.
(Colombo/ June 02/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s shares edge up on positive macroeconomic sentiments

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares closed higher in trade on Friday, over positive macro-sentiments encouraging investors to redeem their interest towards buying, an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was up 0.72 percent or 62.19 points to 8,753.80,  while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was up 0.68 percent or 16.87 points to 2,487.29.

Sri Lanka’s inflation in the 12-months to May 2023 has eased to 25.2 percent from 35.3 percent a month earlier according to a revised Colombo Consumer Price Index calculated by the state statistics office.

Prior to the Monetary Policy investors were quite optimistic that inflation is to lower and interest rates will decrease and since exp, an analyst said.

Sri Lanka Central Bank is waiting for the government proposal on the domestic debt restructuring (DDR), the central bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said amid uncertainty over DDR and speculations over instability in the banking sector.

“On debt restructuring, the borrower is the ministry of finance’s treasury. Certainly we will announce what the strategy will be. We are waiting for a government proposal,” Weerasinghe said.

Sri Lanka’s investors are waiting on assurances to be made on debt restructuring and optimization, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said, “It is up to the government to clear the uncertainty, because from our side we have done that part.”

The central bank cut the key policy rates by 250 basis points to spur a faltering economic growth as inflation was decelerating faster than it projected.

The speculation of DDR has hit the market and the risk premium has kept the market lending rates well above the central bank’s policy rates. The government has yet to present its plans on DDR.

Weerasinghe said the central bank has done its best to reduce the risk premium through bringing down the market lending rates while keeping the policy rates unchanged.

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has discussed progress of International Monetary Fund program and debt restructuring during a visit of Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura, statement said.

“The discussion primarily focused on the progress of the IMF program between Sri Lanka and the IMF,” a statement from President’s office said.

“Attention was also paid to the on-going debt restructuring negotiations.”

However Officials from IMF have said Sri Lanka has to focus on expanding taxes.

“We discussed the importance of fiscal measures, in particular revenue measures, for a return to macroeconomic stability,” Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura said in a statement.

The finance ministry this week issued rules requiring everyone above 18 year of age to register to pay income tax.

“I was encouraged by the authorities’ commitment to negotiate a debt strategy in a timely and transparent manner.

The market generated a revenue of 738 million rupees, while the daily average was 1 billion rupees.

Top gainers in trade were Vallibel One, LOLC Finance and Browns Investment. (Colombo/June02/2023)

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