What happened in Mumbai on August 29 was reprehensible. Thirty centimeters of rainfall in a day, making it the worst rainfall in the region since 2005, drowned a city celebrated as India’s financial capital. Lakhs of people were stranded at railway stations or their workplaces or spent the night wading home through flooded roads. The rain had slowed down the city’s vehicular traffic and hundreds were stranded without a way to reach back home in the suburbs. Most of the railway tracks were waterlogged and the Mumbai local trains, the lifeline of the city, were also affected.
In times like these, the brands of the country stepped up, becoming a boon to the people stuck in the situation.
Some brands offered help in the form of their own intrinsic services. Ola spread the word about a shuttle service which didn’t require any bookings, just for people in various areas to reach their dedicated shuttle locations. RedBus offered help by arranging free stay at hotel they’re affiliated with. Uber used UberPOOL to great efficiency by giving free rides to all those were stuck.
Other brands spread messages about safety and offered to provide shelter, Maggi and wi-fi to Mumbaikars stranded nearby. There were also local brands distributing food parcels to those who couldn’t get their hands at any. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were used to circulate the message around, including images and posters, while instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp and SMS were used to spread text messages. Some of the many brands that reached out to help were Hypercity, Pizza Hut, Turtlemint, Radio Mirchi, Pizza Express, Oyo, MOM, Gokulbite, Kfc, Crownit, Bombay Canteen, Big fm, Rudram group, etc.
Ours is a society dependent on goods and services. Loathe as they sometimes are to admit it, consumers want and need the products – and marketing exists to inform them of their choices. But brands should be held accountable for more than just the quality of their products, their customer service, and their ads. They must communicate their sense of social responsibility as well.
In situations as calamitous as this one, brands have a responsibility not only to their affected customers but to all those who buy their products. I believe it is an excellent way to communicate the brand and engage the consumer at the same time. With most brands increasingly becoming socially conscious, brands must alter their strategies and stand for certain moral issues as well. For this reason, businesses must maintain communication with consumers throughout these times.