We need to be present where the customer likes to shop” Sooraj Balakrishnan

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.

Also read: Consumers will increase spending on categories which are about home: Smita Murarka

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.

In conversation with Adgully, Sooraj Balakrishnan, Head of Marketing, Acer India, speaks about how the COVID-19 crisis has affected the shopping habits and how marketers and retailers need to strategise to bring back consumers to the shops – whether physical or online.

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 pandemic has affected the shopping habits, at least in the short-term, and some of the trends have been fast-forwarded in the past few months. The initial phase saw a lot of pent up demand being served, where discretionary spending was reduced. Now with festive season coming in and mood of the nation lifting, I expect the purse strings to loosen and customers coming back to the shops more. I also see more conversions happening as the more in-market audience come to the shops.

With PC adoption going up and acceleration of remote work & learn, we will see distributed workforce and economy, which can drive festive sales in smaller towns as well.

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?

As a brand, we will be closely watching how the audience consumption is evolving and we will be planning our marketing accordingly. Digital will be the most obvious choice, but we are hoping print and other traditional mediums also make a comeback, so we have wider options to reach our consumers. More than just looking at mediums in silos, it would be interesting to see package solutions to meet marketing objectives and this is where the momentum should shift in my opinion.

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?

People like purchasing in-store; even millennials and Gen Z, who have all the shopping apps on their phones, still like to shop in stores. In this current scenario, while the footfalls in stores have dropped, people who visit the stores are consumers who come with the intention of purchasing. I believe, both online and offline shopping are equally important, and a large portion of customers prefer retail purchase with touch and feel. Shelf space is as important as an e-store, and we feel both will play a vital role in our growth. As a brand, we need to be present where the customer likes to shop and with our exclusive stores, partner stores, brand e-store, and e-commerce partners, we are confident that we will be able to serve our customers during the festive season.


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