Marketers look at South markets to lead the festive rebound
It is well known that consumers in India revere the festive season. It is the one period where marketers can count on their spirits to be high, which is reflected in their spending. The festive season has a bumper effect on the sales of consumer goods categories, where some companies witness as much as 40% growth in sales compared to the other quarters.
This year, the adversity of Covid-19 has been compounded by the stalled economic growth, which has cast a shadow on the ‘celebratory spirit’ during the festive season. A good monsoon season has given high hopes for bumper crop. Consumers in Kerala are soon going to be in the thick of their harvest festival Onam, which is the biggest festival in the state. However, marketers will have to address critical challenges to unlock growth, including: Stimulate demand, Decipher the path to purchase, Investment in media, What consumer wants to buy?, Driving consideration, Categories that will see an uptick and more.
Adgully had curated a panel of experts on the South markets to understand how festive season will play out in these markets and the precedent it will create for the rest of India in the months ahead. Joining in the discussions were:
Anil Nair, former CEO and Managing Partner, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi (Moderator)
Rahul Gandhi, CMO, iD Fresh Foods
Rasika Prashant, Co-Founder & CMO, Soulfull, KottaramAgro Foods
Saikat Das Mohanty, Senior Vice President, Zenith Media
Varghese Chandy, Vice President - Advertising and Sales, Malayala Manorama
Vivek Sharma, CMO, MilkLane
Taking stock of the current situation, Anil Nair remarked, “Today, talking about the pre-COVID and post-COVID world is cliché, but it is the market reality. We’ve all been disrupted, our personal lives have been disrupted and so have our businesses. Needless to say, even the consumer behaviour has been disrupted to a certain extent, where we can’t predict the outcome. The point of this discussion is to try and predict the unpredictable.”
He also said, “We all know for many categories, the festive season is a very critical point of sale for the business.”
His first question to the panel members was “What do you believe is the mood out there? We are in the 5th lockdown phase, with every region having their own version it. What do you think is the mood in regards to consumer buying behaviour?”
Varghese Chandy felt that the mood was that of “Cautious Optimism”. “The festivities in India begin with Onam in Kerala. The Onam window actually starts on August 17, while the festival begins on August 31. People look at it as the first festival in India. Hence, it is the responsibility of marketers that Onam kicks off very well.”
He further said, “Last week in Bangalore, there was a festival called ‘Varamahalakshmi’, where The Times of India came out with a 45-pager that day. This shows what the advertisers are actually looking forward to the festive season. They need a festival to rally around and it’ll happen everywhere.”
Talking about the current mood of the market, Rahul Gandhi said, “I read very recently that out of the 100% businesses in India, only 14% are showing positive results in terms of sales and growth. The overall mood is possibly tilting towards the negative. From the consumers’ point of view, for the people who have had an impact on their finances are looking to come out of it and they want to spend and get out of this situation. If COVID shows a decreasing trend, which can happen in the middle of the festive season, then we can see a massive rebound. It’s almost like freeing a bird from the cage. We can have a possible rebound in the middle of the festive season.”
Sharing his views, Saikat Das Mohanty, added here, “A lot of people are really happy and feel that the festive season will be good for them as most people are with their families right now. This is from an emotional perspective. This is one positive aspect. From a purchasing perspective, I feel the mood is low there. There are restrictions at markets and holy places and that’s why people aren’t keen on stepping out. People will be celebrating cautiously.”
According to Rasika Prashant, “The Amazon Prime Day has actually become the start of the festive season in India. The numbers that Amazon clocked clearly show that people do want to spend during this time. I agree that people are extremely cautious during this time, but full of hope. As per the reports, we are going to peak with COVID-19 in September. The festival season is the time when people will seek to express themselves and be positive especially after this tough year. I think people will spend on things that they have been looking to purchase for a while, however stepping out won’t happen. It will be hopeful, but it won’t explode like the previous years.”
For Vivek Sharma, the pandemic has seen some people who witnessed a boom in business, while for some it was a complete washout. “However, people have been building hope and are waiting for things to normalise. The general sentiment across channels and the consumers is that they’ve had enough of this situation and want to go back to normal. That’s the general mood.”
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