The festive season in India, which started with Onam, is reaching a crescendo with Diwali just round the corner. However, the slowdown in the economy and an uncertain job scenario has made buyers extra cautious this year. Retailers – both online and offline – who look at the festive season to make up for their sales target for the entire year, have become aggressive with their offers and discounts to pull in the crowds.
Speaking to exchange4media, Shankar B, CEO, Fourth Dimension noted, “Usually the festivities for Diwali begin 10 days in advance. However, this year I feel the festive fever has begun only from this week. Advertising activity, which starts much ahead of Diwali, has not been observed this year.”
According to Alok Dubey, COO, US Polo & Flying Machine, “A sluggish economy increases marketers’ aggression and forces innovations, but these are all still built on the same timeless principles. With an insightful brand proposition and differentiated, aspirational imagery, there will always be takers for a brand. Fashion, more than any other category, is the stuff of dreams, fantasies and lifestyle aspirations. We just need to be intuitive and bring alive the dream consumers currently want to be a part of and they will love you for it.”
Dubey further said, “We typically see an improvement in sales with the Autumn-Winter campaigns going live. This gets better over Dussehra and peaks just before Diwali. Our conversion rates do tend to dip with increased walk-ins, but we see a 25-30 per cent increase in bill sizes, which corresponds with overall increase in sales. So, it’s growth through depth of consumption and not as much really through width.”
Flying Machine has released its new campaign, ‘The New Cool’, with cricketer Virat Kohli. Dubey shared, “Pre-festive season, the brand had 40 per cent growth as compared to last year, but this festive season has not seen a sharp spike beyond that. When we compare festive-to-festive season, brands are growing at a healthy pace as planned, but haven’t yet seen the kind of sharp spikes that are typical of this season.”
Fashion category, which comprises apparel and accessories, is faring better than other categories. The apparel category in general works around two seasons, and the September-November period is when brands launch their Autumn-Winter campaigns. While the mainline communication is to create visibility for new merchandise and build brand proposition, festive promotions at the retail level work as boosters to increase walk-ins and bill sizes.
Given the growing acceptance of e-commerce websites, players such as Jabong.com, Myntra.com and Fashionara.com are bullish on tapping the festival fervour.
Jabong.com has a prominent Diwali catalogue on the website, with an array of gifting options. This is being promoted across various marketing channels. The website has several promotional offers such as free HCL Tabs for lucky winners, additional discounts, buy 1 get 1 free offers, freebies on leading brands and more. Additionally, this Diwali the website has also introduced free gift wrapping for buyers. Keeping in view customers’ demands, Jabong has initiated same day delivery in Delhi and NCR, delivery with 48 hours in top 10 cities, while for other cities the delivery time is one to three days.
Praveen Sinha, Co-founder, Jabong.com noted, “You need to go their way to engage with customers these days. Youth today is inclined towards social media and it is definitely a platform where brands can reach out to maximum number of people. Social media and e-commerce are evolving at a rapid pace and the role of social media will only get bigger in the years to come. It is going to be the most preferred and convenient medium for brands to interact with their fans and customers. Apart from using it as a fantastic medium of fan-targeting, we also roll out new contests and engagement ideas to keep our fans engaged.”
Meanwhile, Myntra.com claims to have seen a 35-50 per cent jump in average spends by their customers during this festive season. The e-commerce website has seen a lot of uptake in the apparel segment, especially ethnic wear and accessories.
Vikas Ahuja, CMO, Myntra.com said, “The festive season started with Onam in the South, followed by Dussehra/ Navratri and will continue all the way till Diwali and New Year. Keeping this in mind, we have already stocked additional quantities to satisfy the growing demand. Over 2,000 styles of saris, exclusive ethnic wear brands and select designer wear are also being launched during the festival season.”
Keeping in mind customer preference for ethnic apparel during the festive season, Fasionara.com has launched a Diwali special ‘Lookbook’, which showcases different ethnic wear. Special promotion schemes such as Ethnic Fest and Fantastic 5 have also been initiated.
Arun Sirdeshmukh, Co-founder and CEO, Fashionara.com said, “Besides offering best brands and fashion recommendations such as Lookbook, Fashionara also provides special offers and overnight/ same day delivery. Keeping the festive season in mind, we are trying to get the product to the customer as quickly as possible through our express shipping.”