Q: How has the pandemic affected branding activities?
A: The pandemic has made a significant dent in almost all sectors of the economy both here and globally. Discretionary spending has taken the harder beating. With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the resultant economic woes, consumers naturally began channelling the bulk of their spending toward essentials.

However, the pandemic turned out to be one of the most valuable learning curves, teaching businesses how to adapt, and remain sustainable and resilient – we’re thinking of smarter and leaner ways to stay afloat.

Brands have found innovative ways of reaching customers and this has helped them identify new opportunities to market themselves, and made them realise the importance of solidarity and being a part of the community.

With markets that were more comfortable with bricks and mortar stores rapidly shifting to online shopping out of sheer necessity, businesses began seeing the need for digitalisation and personalisation.

Q: Do you consider your brand to be socially or environmentally conscious?
A: Absolutely – Luv SL by ODEL is undoubtedly one of its most loved private label brands due to the close association with local culture and artisan communities. It’s a celebration of who we are and what makes us Sri Lankan.

We aim to use its brand strength to uplift and revive local art forms and cottage industries, such as batik, rattan weaving and handloom, which are borderline endangered.

Luv SL was recently awarded the Melting Point Certification by the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) for its innovative aluminium recycling initiative. Through this, aluminium waste that congests landfills and pollutes the environment is recycled to create a range of products – for example, jewellery, household items and accessories.

We work with the Seacology-Sudeesa Sri Lanka Mangrove Conservation Project in an effort to rejuvenate marine habitats on the northwestern coastal line. And in 2018, we planted 500 mangrove trees as a coastal conservation project.

We’ve deployed a myriad environmental sustainability and conservation projects over the years such as community led beach cleanups and the Sigiriya rock cleanup, Yala habitat awareness signage and responsible whale watching awareness projects to name a few.

Q: How do you build brand loyalty through experiences?
A: We are constantly connecting to customers through various channels and activities. ODEL boasts one of the largest loyalty customer networks in the local retail sector.

Furthermore, our consolidated network under Softlogic’s corporate loyalty rewards platform Softlogic ONE offers customers the ability to earn and burn points across all its business verticals.

This is a unique value proposition that our loyalty customers can experience and we have observed increased brand loyalty across all our brands as a result of this benefit.

Q: How do you view the role of marketing in creating brand value?
A: They say that ‘products are made in the factory but brands are created in the mind.’ We aim to ensure that ODEL has a special place in our customers’ hearts and minds, as a beloved and steadfastly Sri Lankan bred brand with a distinctively international scope.

Our iconic creative campaigns have connected closely with consumers, touching their hearts and minds. Marketing has been used strategically to continuously engage with consumers over the years, helping build a very loyal base of customers – all of whom enjoy the shopping experience we offer.

The introduction of a host of international high street brands to ODEL stores was a turning point in our marketing story. Customers came to embrace the convenience of having access to all these labels in Sri Lanka without having to travel overseas.

This was made more apparent during the pandemic when travel was restricted but local customers were still able to access global fashion labels by shopping at ODEL.

These strategic moves coupled with focussed marketing campaigns have led to creating and sustaining strong brand value for us.

Q: What is your take of the personalisation of brands?
A: Personalisation has been growing in importance over the past few years and is entrenched as a strong trend in fashion retail.

Our large loyalty network – and the wealth of information it facilitates – makes personalisation and connecting with customers on a personal level easier for us as a brand.

We deploy many methods to personalise the shopping experience and our soon to be launched Loyalty app will take us one step closer to achieving this.

website: www.softlogic.lk

Desiree Karunaratne

Group Director – Marketing

Softlogic Holdings