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We are seeing almost 300-400% growth: Krishnarao Buddha, Parle Products

We are witnessing the great Indian Festive season 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.

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.

The festivals of Onam and Ganesh Mahotsav have already commenced. 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. Already, the Maharashtra Government has placed restrictions on Ganesh puja pandals.

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.

Continuing with the series, in conversation with Adgully, Krishnarao Buddha, Senior Category Head - Marketing, Parle Products, gives a detailed insight into consumer sentiments during these times, his perspective on the impact of the festive season on the overall economy and more.

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?

If you dissect the consumer segments overall, there are 3-4 divisions. Some who have been affected severely due to the pandemic, some who are more neutral in terms of impact, some who haven’t been impacted at all and some, in fact, show a positive impact.

In India, the bottom of the pyramid is the biggest and that has been affected the most. Having said that, the Government has carried out various initiatives to consciously make sure that the overall economy isn’t impacted.

If we look at the worker segments, which have been impacted the most, they went back home during the pandemic. However, now the demand for this labour is on a rise again and the workers themselves want to come back to earn money and look after their families. The rest are waiting for major festivities to get over and they, too, will come back by November. The trains are running full and people do really want to come back.

People who’ve had a neutral impact due to the pandemic, for them life moves on, but for the people who’ve had a positive impact, they are waiting for markets to open again and are dying to spend, especially during the festive season. They want to buy the best of the products and the sheer unpredictable future is making them spend more now. This is the segmentation that we see.

In terms of markets, we see a better prosperity in the metros as compared to Tier 1 and Tier 2 towns. In smaller villages, people are stressed and the concern is high.

While in the first half of the pandemic, metros were impacted the most, now we see the impact shift to the villages and smaller towns. People are seeing that this situation is going to last for a long time and hence, they are going back to work to earn an income.

In Kerala, for Onam people have been spending a lot. On the print end, we’ve seen advertisers come back and spend on print during this time.

The Unlock mode is on and advertisers and consumers are spending more and more as time is passing by.

In the festive time, we’ll definitely see an overall economic growth. People are spending on every segment and a positive growth is definitely indicated.

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?

Predominantly, we’ll be heavy on digital. While television will be a part of our strategy, frankly speaking the festive season isn’t as big for us as a brand. During this time, a lot of sweets and homemade foods come into play. Biscuits and salty snacks are the staple, but we don’t see a major upswing during this time. A lot of alternatives come into play. Our strategy remains focused on digital, including OTT and social media.

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?

We’ve already taken all the necessary actions. We’ve focused across all the mediums, including General Trade, Modern Trade and E-Commerce. We are present everywhere and the kind of growth that we’ve seen is terrific, almost 300-400 per cent. We are very well aligned with all channels, including Grofers, Big Basket, Flipkart, etc.

In every channel, General Trade has really gone from strength to strength for us and in recent times even Modern Trade has opened up. We’ve seen an extremely positive result with these channels.

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