India’s agencies are starting to see business slowly pick up again after precipitous falls in the early stages of lockdown and there are hopes that the festival season will accelerate a journey back to something approaching normality.

With a good monsoon, Ashish Bhasin, Dentsu Aegis Network APAC CEO and India chairman, believes that a positive state of affairs could be achieved around Diwali. But it’s a long slog back: he reported business in April was 65% down on the previous year, easing to 50% down in May and 35-40% down in June.

“What’s clear is that the improvement is gradual, and not a V-shaped recovery as was earlier envisaged,” he told the Times of India.

Wunderman Thompson South Asia chairman & group CEO Tarun Rai is also banking on an improvement in the second half of the year. “We do see the beginnings of a recovery in June,” he said, reporting how that month had seen a flurry of production work aimed at capturing pent-up demand as the economy opens up.

“I do believe that the festival season will see a pretty sharp recovery,” he added. “The signs are positive for most categories.”

Rai also suggested that, for brands, their “bounce-back velocity” will be important. “What brands do now, and for the next couple of months, will decide which brands have a greater ‘bounce-back velocity’. And this, in turn, will translate into capturing a bigger market share,” he explained.

One side-effect of the COVID crisis that brands will have to take account of is how it has increased digital penetration into rural India, which Bhasin believes will be crucial to driving economic recovery.

“With 50% of our population dependent on agriculture, we believe most industries are refocusing their strategies to bolster rural presence,” he said. “The more rural presence a business attains, the more important it is for us to offer comprehensive and integrated solutions in advertising,” he added.

Sourced from Times of India