They won’t buy just because it’s Diwali

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Cautious spending. Slower offtakes from retail shelves. Malls high on crowds entering but low on shopping bags while exiting. Not the signs of a typical festive season. However this season is anything but typical. With inflation and economy taking a toll on everyone, these are tough times not just for consumers but also for brands.
What used to be a sure-shot windfall time for companies, has now become complex and uncertain. While we continue to see the usual marketing gimmicks of huge discounts, assured gifts and exchange offers on display, there is serious doubt among marketers if these will translate into the required number of sales.
But all is not lost. What brands need to realize is that they will have to play by a different rulebook this time. A rulebook that no longer allows them to use the same old tactics, but requires them to work much harder and probe a lot deeper.

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They won’t buy just because it’s Diwali

  1. 1. They won’t buy just because it’s Diwali Cautious spending. Slower offtakes from retail shelves. Malls high on crowds entering but low on shopping bags while exiting. Not the signs of a typical festive season. However this season is anything but typical. With inflation and economy taking a toll on everyone, these are tough times not just for consumers but also for brands. What used to be a sure-shot windfall time for companies, has now become complex and uncertain. While we continue to see the usual marketing gimmicks of huge discounts, assured gifts and exchange offers on display, there is serious doubt among marketers if these will translate into the required number of sales. But all is not lost. What brands need to realize is that they will have to play by a different rulebook this time. A rulebook that no longer allows them to use the same old tactics, but requires them to work much harder and probe a lot deeper. So what do the rules look like? Rule No 1: Do not spend; invest. Some brands believe that spending big bucks only in this season is all that’s needed to make consumers drool. Guess what, this spending in all likelihood is going to get wasted. Instead, invest in your consumers. Build affinity, relationships and a strong value proposition by constantly engaging with them. Only then will the rewards come. A packaged food brand that tries to entice with tasty gulab jamun and kaju barfi only 6 days of the year, will face stiff competition from brands that have built trusted associations of taste, hygiene and gift-worthiness over a period of time. Rule No.2: Do not vacate your core. Festive marketing needs to be an extension of your brand’s core philosophy; not fractured from it. For instance, a brand known to be premium and aspirational can’t suddenly become too easy to grab in festive season. Or a brand that stands for quality cannot stoop to low levels just because it wants to be present at a certain price point. Rule No.3: Truly blend in. Putting a diya or rangoli visual in your communication is not blending in. But when the young girl in the chocolate ad puts the rich dry fruit collection box on the dining table as she comes home to family, it doesn’t seem so artificial. The larger message is not about the chocolate but about sharing love and spending time with your loved ones. The brand manages to become a part of the ethos of Diwali - family time, bonding, togetherness, and hence works. Rule No. 4: Let the starting point be the occasion, not your brand. Often brands end up advertising services and products that have nothing to do with the occasion. Just because this is the season for indulgence doesn’t mean that consumers will pick up anything. So begin by looking at the characteristics, values and needs that come alive at the occasion, and see if there’s a role for your brand. A mobile phone /digital camera brand highlighting great quality pictures in low light is solving a relevant need, while an e-commerce brand that promotes sunglasses and books on discount, under the garb of Diwali dhamaka is not.
  2. 2. There could be many more rules, and you could make your own. But the key is to realize that this season, shortcuts won’t help. Festivals were and still are a fantastic opportunity. They allow brands to interact with several age segments simultaneously. They give them a chance to widen their TG and get new consumers on board. They allow brands to share their message more easily as consumers are in a receptive and upbeat mood. They can even help brands get a positive rub off from the good vibe that’s in the air. The only thing to remember is to adopt strategies that are relevant to the occasion and make efforts that are genuine. Then nothing can come in the way of your brand enjoying a sparkling Diwali. By Anisha Motwani Director and Chief Marketing Officer Max Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

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