Post-lockdown, there’s a new marketing narrative in India that seeks to plug into new consumer anxieties surrounding staying healthy and the idea of building immunity in a world stalked by COVID-19.

Some brands have added an “immunity booster” layer to their marketing message, others have made product changes to fit the narrative, reports afaqs!

A report produced by content discovery and advertising platform Taboola found pageview traffic during the lockdown increased 39% to 5.6 million views of stories related to health claims about turmeric and immunity-boosting foods.

And a study by Wunderman Thompson South Asia found 94% of respondents from 32 cities in 15 states said everyone in their home needed an immunity boost. E-commerce platform Snapdeal says a third of its users were now buying safety and immunity-focused food and products, afaqs! reports.

Bottled water brand Bisleri has focused on how vital it is to be well hydrated and to boost immunity with its product’s “added minerals”. Indian conglomerate ITC has launched the “Immunity Song” to market its dairy brand Aashirvaad Svasti, and Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has underlined the immunity-boosting qualities of vitamins C and D, plus Zinc, in an ad for Horlicks.

Baked goods label Bonn has launched a “Herb and Seed” variant of its bread, in order to “boost immunity”.

The Times of India reports that products associated with health, such as olive oil, soya oil and mustard oil, fortified bread and even fortified biscuits and powdered chocolate drinks are in huge demand as consumers buy into the idea of maintaining a healthy diet and building immunity to help protect against COVID-19. During normal times, these products would see growth of between 5 and 10%, the Times reports; now industry executives are reporting annualized growth of 20 to 40%.

And a Google India report, 'What is India searching for: Insights for Brands' highlights the fact that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers were increasingly searching for the “best of” whatever they were looking for. The report also shows a huge jump, of 500%, for searches related to health and healthy products, especially for those that supposedly boost immunity. Searches for vitamin C were up over 150%, as were searches for herbs with medicinal properties like Giloy (+380%), and Ayurvedic home remedies, like Kadha (+90%).

Sharda Agarwal, co-founder of Sepalika, a healthcare advisory, told afaqs!, there was currently an overload of “immunity information”.

“It is a genuine overload that is attacking consumers from all directions,” she said. 

“In a situation like this, if you are a brand selling immunity, and the link between the brand and immunity, as a concept, is tenuous, it’s not going to stick, and will go by like a ship in the night,” Agarwal added.

Sourced from Afaqs!, Taboola, Wunderman Thompson South Asia, Times of India, Google India