"Festive sales may be different from the past years, but will never be defeated in 2020"

The great Indian Festive season has started amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We all know what kind of a washout the first half of 2020 has been when it comes to businesses and even personal lives being completely disrupted. Given the strict Government directives on maintaining social distancing, the huge crowds of shoppers that usually throng the markets during this time might be a lot less this year.

In normal circumstances, brands look at the festive season as an opportunity to gain maximum ROI, leveraging the consumer sentiments during this time. However, the unprecedented conditions have dampened the economy so far. While some are sceptical about businesses picking up during the rest of the year, we are also seeing a general mood of optimism.

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Amid such a scenario, Adgully has reached out to marketers and publishers across India to gauge the sentiments during the festive season this year as part of our special series on ‘Festive Mood’. Over the next few weeks, we will be bringing the views and insights from various markets on how marketers and publishers are endeavouring to trigger a revival and give a boost to festive sentiments.

Ashish Thakur, Business Head, Birla Ayurveda, speaks to Adgully about how consumer sentiments are picking up as the festive season draws near. He also sheds light on how his company is all geared with various initiatives – both offline and online – to make the most of the festive season in pandemic times.

How do you see the consumer sentiments across the nation this year? Which markets are seen as leading the rebound and how? What factors will drive growth this festive season? How much do you see festive sales getting impacted due to COVID-19 this year?

The consumer sentiments in our nation have been picking up after facing a huge decline that was seen in the months of April and May. Unlock 1.0 brought a ray of hope for everyone inspite of losses on personal levels. Consumers are seen to be spending more on necessities. Markets of essentials like fresh foods, packed food, groceries, preventive healthcare, medications, domestic supplies, household care products, utilities, online entertainment, e-learning, restaurant pick-up and delivery are witnessing more spends by consumers and are on the positive side as they are encouraging savings. On the other hand, spends are less on voluntary categories such as alcohol, experiences, travel, luxury/ fashion, and automotive as well as categories constricted by the government like outdoor entertainment and dine-ins in restaurants. The easy availability, accessibility, increased safety, sanitization and precautions has contributed to increased sales.

In terms of the situation in emerging markets in India, overall spends are changing. Speaking about festive seasons in Indian market, it will still serve as “a bounce back” in markets by making festivals exciting amidst the pandemic. Promotional activities that are influential and attracting, for example, discounts, coupon codes, offers, etc., will drive sales. Focus on virtual aspect will make sense in line with all safety and comfort measures. Another important metric can be launching new product lines that align the needs of the customers currently. As I sum up, if we all make it easy for everyone to make purchases online and drive traffic, festive sales may be different from the past years, but never be defeated in 2020.

What kind of integrated marketing activities are you planning for the festive season? On which platforms will you be investing your ad spends more and Why? What kind of digital push are you looking at?

Our integrated marketing strategies comprise of both offline and online activities. Wherein festive season plays an important role, being the time for holidays, family, friends, fun and joy, it invites heavy traffic. The mood of celebration sparks the need for indulging in shopping. For this festive season, we have tailored special pricing, exciting offers, gifts that can be purchased for loved ones, limited offers, exclusive and customised products. As we can see, consumer sentiment is improvising as festivals approach, thus increasing spends. Consumers with greater incomes are not so focused on changing in terms of savings after the pandemic. Whereas lower income consumers are a mix of either planning to save or saving less.

We live in a country with more than 400 million active online users! Young consumers aging between the ages of 18 and 25 years haul their spends online. Eating healthy is the top most priority and that’s where we need to increase our presence to be there where the need is! Our consumers want to be remembered and considered, that’s the reason why we are enthusiastic and super active. We are working hard to increase visibility and target audiences on social media websites by posting engaging messages, videos, visuals our websites and pages. Our Facebook, Instagram and Websites are themed in festive colours to inspire purchases. Our designers are making it appealing for our new-age consumers as they are attracted to presentations. We are all set for the festive mood with our packaging and layouts for the occasion.

Do you see retail footfalls increasing during the festive season, given that people are still not venturing out for shopping in a big way? What alternate routes are you looking at to shore up sales – such as e-commerce, online purchases, D2C initiatives?

Festive seasons are like “making hay while the sun shines”. We are assertive and believe in the promise of all the major e-commerce firms with regards to a massive sales performance. Festival sales are important and constructive opportunities. According to experts, festival sales are capable of making up for the whole year’s revenue for e-commerce firms. It is the time of the year for e-commerce firms where they expect greater capitalisation and highest sales figures.

This festive season, categories such as online fashion are pushing their demands actively, home furnishings are doing better due to work from home options and to encourage study from home environments, mobile phones and other electronic appliances have good sales due to high demand. Statistically, sales have been rising up to 40-60 per cent since May.

We have already started to see increase in footfalls since the unlock ease. Henceforth, we will continue to provide our support. We are aware that we cannot compare pre-COVID-19 times with the current trends and that is okay. We see festive seasons as fuel for growth. We have our strategies in place and we will strive for the same regardless of the challenges. Our e-commerce websites are updating, our centers are well sanitized and safe, online purchases via social media platforms are picking up in a big way, D2D is emerging and we are focusing on essentials. Our team is curating marvelous festive offers and promotions where our core products, offline as well as online strategies, apps and social platforms will remain the top priorities. We take it as a positive opportunity that only brings good outcome.


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