Advertising activity usually gathers momentum as the festive season draws to a close towards the end of the year. However, the buzz seems to be subdued this year, especially in the Chennai market. This is a reflection of the tough economic conditions prevalent throughout 2013, which saw sales below the expectations even during the peak festive season.
Speaking to exchange4media, Ninan Thariyan, Associate VP, Times Response, Chennai said, “The markets are subdued. Purchases during festivities are coming down because of the change in buying patterns. Thanks to the various promotional offers throughout the year, people are not limiting their purchase activities to only the festive pockets. Moreover, weekends are the time when retail advertising sees heightened activity.”
He further noted, “Earlier, New Year sales in Chennai used to be very big. I think the overall micro economic conditions have led consumers to be more cautious about their spendings and even postpone buying. The excitement around Christmas and the New Year is seen missing, at least in Chennai.”
As far as advertising during the festive season is concerned, print media sees a slew of innovations by various brands as they seek to create greater level of engagement and stand out amid the clutter. Retailers mostly use print, radio and OOH media to communicate their offers. The festive season also sees advertisers focus more on creating awareness about the various discount offers.
Reflecting on the subdued market sentiments this year, Pravin Menon, National Head- Ad Sales, Vikatan Group said, “Sentiments during Christmas this year have been very low. Marghazhi, which coincides with the Christmas season, has always been a good marketing season in Tamil Nadu. However, business this year has been lower than what it was last year. Barring ads for restaurants, one hardly saw brand ads for Christmas.”
He further said that there has been a shorter period of brand communication and promotions. “Sale and offer promotions are longer and frequently done (almost every weekend). While this does affect magazines, it is good for mainline print, radio and outdoor media.”
Narendra Kumar Alambara, COO, Sovereign Media Marketing (Dina Thanthi) observed, “Compared to Diwali, Christmas tends to be far more muted and spikes only in pockets. In my opinion, Christmas is significant only in markets such as Kerala, Goa and to a certain extent, Mumbai, Kolkata, etc., for all categories. Even in most metros, the hospitality and restaurant sector is more active around Christmas time.”
He added, “In this context, my indication is that Christmas has been below par as compared to previous years. Earlier, the year-end campaigns used to kick off around December 20-22 and continue till after the New Year. This year though, most campaigns seem to be kicking off only this weekend.”
Telecom, apparel and hospitality are some sectors that have been more active in advertising, while there has been a marked drop in electronics, consumer durables and real estate advertising.
However, amid the downturn there are some who remain optimistic. Martin King, GM & Head- Marketing, Dinamalar felt that with television becoming more expensive, print and radio are being preferred to create noise. “National brands have come in as national packages into mainline dailies. Regional pages of dailies and vernacular media have got some share of the advertising pie from the retail segment, including hotels organising Christmas and New Year parties, celebrity programmes, and so on,” King added. At the same time, he also acquiesced that market sentiments have been low and overall advertising has remained flat with no spike happening.