E-commerce festive campaigns: Big bet on small towns this year

From regional brand ambassadors to revamped online experience to shopping via WhatsApp, e-tailers are trying hard to connect with Bharat to drive next phase of growth

e4m by Kanchan Srivastava
Published: Sep 15, 2022 8:48 AM  | 6 min read

Amazon India’s ‘Great Indian Festival’, Flipkart’s ‘Big Billion Days’ and Meesho’s  ‘Mega Blockbuster Sale’ are being rolled out on the same day-September 23, marking the commencement of the aggressive shopping season. 

Interestingly, this time around, the e-commerce majors are focusing a lot on consumers of smaller towns and rural parts of the country. 

Meesho, for instance, has created a total of 12 films shot in Hindi, Tamil and Bengali and further amplified in other regional languages like Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Gujarati. “Through these films, Meesho aims to showcase how shopping on the company’s app mirrors the enjoyable, real-world experience of physical markets. The campaign will be promoted across TV, print, digital, social and WhatsApp,” Megha Agarwal, CXO User Growth, Meesho, tells e4m. 

The WhatsApp campaign primarily aims to target the consumers of Bharat who can easily shop through the popular communication platform. 

Agarwal adds, “Meesho has also brought onboard regional actors like Rashmika Mandana, Trisha Krishnan, Karthi Sivakumar, and Ram Charan along with Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Kapil Sharma, Rohit Sharma and Sourav Ganguly as celebrity partners. They all are relatable figures for most Indians, have a pan-India fan following as well as very strong regional presence in deeper parts of Bharat.”

Flipkart, meanwhile, ahead of its Big Billion Days, launched an ‘Autumn Winter fashion collection’ along with #NewForYou campaign targeting metro as well as tier 2-3-4-5 customers. 

“As fashion consciousness gains momentum across the country, we continue to bridge the gap between metros and Tier ll+ regions by enabling a seamless fashion shopping experience, '' Abhishek Maloo, Senior Director, Flipkart Fashion, had said in August while launching the campaign. 

Flipkart also plans to provide a revamped shopping experience for the upcoming festive season through several technology-led features such as image search and video cataloging to simplify the product discovery journey for customers and to overcome vernacular and linguistic barriers. 

Amazon India has begun live commerce sessions on its app, starting with the fashion category, like Flipkart did in February. Live commerce is believed to be more user-friendly. 

Stepping up their efforts, a few online grocery platforms like Swiggy Instamart and Zepto have launched night delivery services as well, starting with select markets. 

For all ecommerce players, the upcoming sales events are crucial after two subdued years and muted sales in the first quarter of the current fiscal year due to inflation and weak consumer sentiments. 

Brands in the e-commerce space are also stepping up their marketing efforts to cash in on the festive mood and buying spirits of Indians. 

Online furniture marketplace Pepperfry, for instance, which has roped in actors Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor as brand ambassadors, will increase its AdEx by 15-20 per cent this festive season, Naveen Murali, VP and head of marketing of the company told e4m. 

“While work from home added to our sales during the pandemic, Indians are upgrading their homes with new furniture now as they look forward to celebrating the festivals again with their extended families and friends,” says Murali. 

Soumali Chakraborty, Head of Marketing - Arrow at Arvind Fashions Limited, says, “After two subdued years, festive shopping, especially fashion and apparel, is definitely on the consumer’s radar. Accordingly, our ad expenditure has been mapped to effectively communicate these offerings and innovative product-led stories to our consumers.”

Online festive sales may touch $11.8 billion: Report

E-commerce retailers are expected to garner sales of $11.8 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) during this year’s festive season, up 28% year-on-year, according to a latest report by consultancy firm Redseer. 

“A large part of these sales will come from urban areas, however, new user acquisition is largely coming from tier 2, 3, 4 and 5 cities. E-commerce players have a close eye on such consumers and have come up with facilities like WhatsApp transactions. Youtube has also integrated WhatsApp. More than 50 per cent transitions come from rural areas, but volume-wise urban India rules,” says Rathore. 

Interestingly, e-commerce sales have not been impacted even as the markets are fully open now. Amazon India reported a 30% increase in revenue at its five units—marketplace, transportation, internet, data and payments—for the year ended 31 March. 

“Online sales volume and order frequencies both have rather gone up because consumers are now used to online shopping,” says Shashank Rathore, Head of e-commerce, interactive Avenues - a Reprise Network Company. 

Kumar Awanish, Chief Growth Officer, Cheil India, agrees with Rathore. “Hinterland consumers have already opened doors for e-commerce platforms hence their growth is natural. The rest of the macro factors are temporary headwinds but the heart of the matter is that the next wave of growth will come from the hinterlands or in other words from the belly of the country. People have experienced e-commerce and the ease of buying. They have gotten used to it. They would want to explore it more often,” Awanish explained. 

E-tailers’ AdEx will go up: Experts

Increasing sales, the addition of many new D2C platforms and projection of 28 per cent higher sales this festive season are clear indications that e-tailers would increase their advertising spends as well. 

The E-commerce sector has emerged as the second largest contributor to India’s advertising expenditure, doubling in size from Rs 3,000 crore to Rs 6,000 crore in the last one year only, says Pitch Madison Annual Report 2022.

Their share in India’s total AdEx touched 13 per cent in 2021 as compared to 8.5 per cent in 2020. Experts predict that it could further grow in 2022. 

Quoting an internal study conducted by an IPG group company Magna, Shashank Rathore, predicts, “Share of e-commerce AdEx in India’s total AdEx could go up to 20 per cent in 2022.”

“Their contribution this year should be in the range of 16 per cent to 19 per cent. It would be a distant second after FMCG, since the gap between them will almost be 2X,” says Kumar Awanish, Chief Growth Officer, Cheil India. 

According to Awanish, “The next two months are going to be the lifeline for any and every e-commerce platform because of the festival season.  It is going to be the largest value and volume driver for them. AdEx during this period will be around 30 per cent to 35 per cent of their annual spends.”

The major chunk of the growth will be cornered by the grocery, apparel and consumer electronics category.

E-commerce business in India

The e-commerce sector in India is currently valued over USD 100 billion. It is expected to reach $350 billion by 2030 from $45-50 billion now, RedSeer said in its 2021 report. 

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