• Covid-19 Helpline India

Vocal for Local: How Small Businesses Expanded During The Lockdown

Emphasizing on self-reliant or ‘Atma Nirbhar’ India, Prime minister Narendra Modi urged the nation to go ‘VOCAL for LOCAL’ to support small and local Indian businesses. The greater aim of this campaign was to promote and support local manufacturing and supply chains as opposed to the global brands, which proved to be an encouragement for our scheme ‘Make in India’.

During the pandemic this campaign reached places and received massive support from organizations like ITC who invested a huge sum in promoting Indian brands, aiding 25 of them from the scratch. In the wake of these events, campaigns like ‘Proudly Indian Campaign’ flooded social media with many Indian brands like Dabur and Amul releasing special videos about how they have been taking care of Indian household needs over centuries.

On the one hand we see big brands being sheltered under their resources and capital to survive the pandemic blows, while on the other hand many small businesses either shut down temporarily or permanently, ensuing a larger issue of mass unemployment. However, as the lockdown advanced, small business owners started adapting to the situation in creative ways and took matters of their survival in their own hands.

While maintaining social distancing, these businesses reached out to their clients through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram exploring brand imaging strategies. For certain businesses, moving to an online marketing platform came as an easy solution but for others it resulted in modification of their business models and adapting to the new normal.

Fitness and Health care brands saw this as an opportunity to increase awareness about mental and physical health through online platforms and offered their services to their existing customers through customized body conditioning and fitness videos. At the same time, many dieticians and nutritionists offered online consultancy and personalized diets to promote physical health and fitness. Small food chain owners switched to selling goods online and started food blogging channels to promote their recipes. Since then, many creative food recipes like the Dalgona coffee have been trending amongst the youth providing a way to blow-off some steam while staying locked in their houses.

As the demand for the immunity boosting products peaked during the pandemic, many products flooded and claimed themselves being herbal, organic, and homemade. With a separate market for such organic products, many brands gained instant attention and expanded their scope to other handmade products.

Small boutiques and tailors also started promoting their designs online and encouraged the users to buy their products. A trend of makeover videos and styling tutorials also gained popularity.

With teaching and working mediums shifting to online platforms, many young students and professionals decided to learn more skills. This allowed brands like Udemy and Coursera to offer teaching courses and tutorials at a much cheaper rate. For those planning their admissions abroad reached out to several counselors who were organizing virtual discussions to keep their students informed.

The Corona pandemic of 2020 led many small business owners to focus on Darwin's theory of ‘Survival of the fittest’ and get adapted to the situation accordingly. The ‘Vocal for Local’ campaign is turning out to be a fruitful initiative which is driving the country’s youth towards understanding the importance of these locally available services and is in fact helping in breaking the stereotypes of brand-conscious shopping.

by - Meenal Sharma

graphic by - Gayathri Nair

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