This morning was not just about beating Monday morning blues. A derailment in Mumbai’s harbour line put train schedules out of gear, for the nearly 10 lakh (yes, one million people) who use the service every day.
On a regular day, these are numbers that brand managers and their agencies could give an arm and a leg for. But on a day when consumers were going through another bout of agony, brands stood on the sidelines. And I am not even sure if they were watching.
While many commuters were stuck inside the packed rush-hour trains, as the bunching of trains led to an extremely slow or no movement between stations, there were others who were left stranded hunting for alternate modes of transport. In the midst of this chaos, brands possibly missed an opportunity to rise to the occasion.
Could a cab aggregator have surprised customers by offering not the regular and predictable surge pricing, but by enhancing their services on the affected route and increasing the number of cabs that offer shared rides?
Inside the station as emotions surged and the temperature soared, a beverage brand or even a wet tissue maker could have got their act together and created a special bond with customers.
As the concern of most office-goers was about getting late to work, telecom service providers could have boosted their service standards and even gone one level higher by offering free mobile data for people stuck at railway stations or inside trains. Or an emerging service provider could have taken this as an opportunity to prove its mettle and win the confidence of customers who otherwise use services of the established players. Instead, most commuters were left complaining about not even being able to get the basic services at a crucial time. On a day like this, there were many more opportunities missed by brands across categories.
It’s no secret that Mumbai’s life line is in its train network. When the rail network breaks down either due to mishaps or because of inclement weather, brands could easily rise up to the occasion and make life a little easier for their consumers. Unfortunately, most CMOs or even senior brand managers do not take the train to work. If junior employees spot the opportunity on their way to work, there is no empowerment at their level to take any decisions and implement a promo just inside their station or vicinity.
When doing good is certainly good for business and can fetch the required brownie points on social media and elsewhere, brands are missing the golden goose. Perhaps, their priority is not on the right track.