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BW Businessworld

M&E’s Fervent Festival Feelings

It’s the season we’ve all been waiting for! With businesses and buyers turning up the volume, decking up in style and pumping up for the much-awaited mega-carnival, festive time is expected to exude increased moments of consumption & sales for most M&E players.

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The fest to finally fly the test. For a year that has been all tempestuous, we say the preceding statement as we look forward to this extra special festive time, given the unwonted progression of events in the past year for businesses and buyers alike. By all appearances, the market sentiment is looking positive with the M&E sector going the extra mile, pitching and attracting consumers with innovative engagement ideas. Nearly 80 per cent of brands are looking to maintain or increase their marketing budgets for the festive season. Even for the new launches, supported by high-decibel marketing campaigns, shopping aisles are expected to be chock-a-block.

Porus Doctor, Partner and Consumer Industry Leader, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India says, “Brands and retailers have been aggressively re-inventing their sales strategies and investing in building new sales processes and concepts like ‘store on wheels’, tie-ups with residential societies, creating virtual sales experiences, hyperlocal partnerships, etc. to counter the pandemic induced challenges.”

As for the consumption side, a natural upswing post-pandemic restrictions is also observed, primarily due to pent-up demand, increase in lifestyle spends, work from home and an incessant need for celebration.

Giving credence to the ‘Decoding Consumer Behaviour and Winning the 2021 Festive Season Report’ by MMA, GroupM & Amazon Advertising, 45 per cent of consumers are likely to increase their spending this festive season, while only 16 per cent are likely to reduce their spending. In terms of categories, mobile & accessories (45 per cent), fashion and accessories (34 per cent) & electronics (31 per cent) are witnessing the maximum interest.

“The festive season has always symbolised a period of joy, celebrations, and togetherness for consumers across India. We are hopeful of an added push for in-home consumption in addition to out of home consumption as restrictions ease slowly and steadily,” mentions a PepsiCo India spokesperson.

Even for Moksh Chopra, Chief Marketing Officer, KFC India, the period for October-December seems promising. “While we witnessed an uptick in off-premise consumption all through the pandemic, we are now beginning to witness an increase in on-premise consumption as well. Safeguarding the health and safety of our team members & customers continues to be our priority, whether it is with contactless service in delivery, takeaway and dine-in, differentiated food channels as KFC to your car/bike,” he mentions.

Gusto Across Sectors
The wave of hope and better profits is not just limited to retail but visible across sectors and genres. This year, with the focus on video content and OTT apps increasing, advertisers are pushing big monies on those channels in contrast to traditional method.

High-impact properties like IPL, Big Boss, KBC are roaring loud in the ad revenue game. Digital video platforms are even launching festive-focussed campaigns and content line-ups to proffer a whoop of delight to their audiences.

It is ditto for e-commerce platforms, including social commerce and grocery that have garnered about $2.7 billion in sales in the first four days of the festive sale and are on track to achieve the $4.8 billion gross GMV mark, as per RedSeer.

E-commerce companies are seeing a large chunk of their annual business coming in during the festive sales and they are making significant investments ahead of time to ramp up their capacity and add features to be able to handle the spike in orders while ensuring a smooth experience for shoppers and sellers.
While online shopping is now a common phenomenon in metros, it is gradually making its way to cities beyond metros. In fact, during the previous festive season, more than 103 per cent of users shopped across new categories.

Accepting this to be a crucial time for online commerce, Bewakoof’s Marketing Head Abhimanyu Mishra plans to go heavy on top-funnel marketing investments starting mid-October where the company will be engaging with celebrities to promote their festive collection. Its budgets are 100 per cent digital at the moment and its marketing strategy to promote categories is a good mix of influencer marketing, paid ads, SEO, organic social media marketing, CRM, affiliate marketing and partnerships.

“Festive season serves as a crucial window in the year for new customer acquisition and bringing back customers that haven’t shopped again with us for a while now. With markets recovering, customers will see brands go aggressive with their sales and discounts especially to clear off the pandemic hit slow-moving inventory,” he adds.  

Most e-commerce players have already gone past their pre-Covid numbers. There are some categories that have recovered better than others and in this festive season, they expect a full recovery in all categories.  

Giving us a sense of the cinema exhibition industry, improved consumer sentiment and propensity to spend in the film fraternity is also giving strong signals, further stretching to the regional film industry. It looks like the industry has had its share of gloomy and stagnated days and is finally rearing to come back in action.

Rahul Puri, Managing Director, Mukta Arts observes a higher sense of confidence amongst people that will lead them to cinemas. “To offer a delightful movie watching experience to our guests and to make them feel comfortable in such an environment, this will only be possible if there is a consistency in the release of films on the big screen. Frequent guest visits in the theatres will prove to be beneficial in gaining their confidence,” he points.

An optimistic attitude is translating to better business for the radio industry as well, with volumes going up. Being the hyperlocal medium that it is, no other platform connects better with the consumers in their local language and sensibilities. This, coupled with the fact that most radio companies have evolved into multi-platform and multi-format brands that have a presence across FM, LIVE and digital realms, is helpful in providing customised brand solutions.

On being asked if pent-up demand has reflected increased advertisers too, Sudipta Suri, National Marketing Director, ENIL, Mirchi elaborates that the company has had over 600 new advertisers in September alone. Plus, there has been a constant influx of startups with money to spend giving the much-needed boost to the economy.  
Alluring The Audience
The pandemic halted the retail market and operations overnight and disrupted everything about the way customers spent and bought. Brands and retailers faced the unique challenge of re-building connect with consumers and providing them with a safe, hygienic, and attractive shopping environment.

Over the course of the year, brands have been utilising a wide range of approaches to connect, engage and pursue customers. They have increasingly invested in some innovative, noise-cutting communication. Digital certainly is the key theme for the majority of the methods adapted from customer communications to engagement and sales techniques.

“In terms of budgets, mainlines such as print and radio continue to be important to create an impact and digital plays an important role in the last-mile connectivity to the consumer,” comments Suri.

Jatin Gujrati, Business Head, Vedix asserts, “We will be running flash sales during the beauty festival – which we have never done before. We also have a new launch – limited edition festive gift kits to cater to the gifting needs of consumers.”

As an online brand, 100 per cent of their marketing spend is on digital channels. Kalpesh R. Parmar, Country General Manager, Mars Wrigley, India describes that the brand has been strategic, mindful, and purposeful in its marketing approach. “With Snickers, we launched a campaign, ‘Acknowledge Your Heroes’ wherein we encouraged our consumers to join hands with us to recognise the efforts of these brave warriors and express gratitude with a simple message: ‘To those who keep us going, send a free Snickers to keep them going’. With Doublemint, we created POSM with the tagline ‘Freshen up! Behind the Mask’. This tied in the brand benefit of ‘freshening‘ with the need to use masks.”

Consumer journeys are becoming more complex and non-linear, and the role of digital is becoming more prominent across the journey. As a result, this festive season will require marketers to re-think their media strategies in order to be successful.

Businesses Pin Hope
Buoyed up by the success in the last few quarters combined with positive market sentiments, businesses are ramping up supplies, scaling up product portfolio and designing new festive offers for this season. Deloitte’s global consumer tracker indicates that discretionary spending is on the rise and families are indicating an intention of spending equal or more in terms of festival shopping compared to last year.

As India’s anxiety levels reduce, the consumer spends on discretionary items is expected to improve further. Brands must ensure to connect with consumers to communicate their proposition. To gain a share of the consumer spending pie, brands ought to invest in clutter-breaking impact properties and customised solutions, suggest experts.   

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retail festive season October Magazine 2021