It's an Onam of opportunities for brands

As Kerala sets the festivities in motion, brands go all out to woo consumers

e4m by Simran Sabherwal & Tasmayee Laha Roy
Published: Aug 16, 2021 8:35 AM  | 7 min read

The sheen of Onam celebrations has been subdued for various reasons in the recent past. In 2018 and 2019, the festivities were impacted by floods and in 2020, the pandemic did little to lift sentiment. 

This year, as Kerala celebrates Onam, the on-ground sentiment is positive, particularly since the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. 

According to Boby Paul, General Manager – Marketing, Manorama Online, “Onam sales started a bit slow compared to last year but once the measured unlock announcement came in from the government from 17th July and a total unlock of five days a week,  the spends got back to normal from brands' side. The most aggressive categories are Consumer Durables, Automotive, Gold & Fashion.” 

Boby Paul, General Manager – Marketing, Manorama Online

Adds Naveen Sreenivasan, Head TRD  - Sales ( Television, Radio and Digital), Mathrubhumi Group, “While there was a lot of uncertainty in July, with the Kerala government opening up the markets for the festive season, advertising has picked up and the market looks poised for a safe but healthy Onam. The expected categories like Textiles, Food/FMCG, Durables and Automobile are getting active." 

Tapping Into The Festive Spirit 

One category that is expected to see an uptick in consumer durables. Commenting on Onam, N.S. Satish, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Haier Appliances India says, "Beginning the festive season with Onam, it will be a low affair as social distancing restrictions are pivotal at the moment. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that Oman will bring high spirits to Kerala, as people plan to take celebrations to digital platforms with great enthusiasm." 


N.S. Satish, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Haier Appliances India

With Kerala reporting higher Covid cases, marketers are approaching the festival with cautious optimism, according to Nandagopal Nair, Vice President & Head – Brand & Communications, V-Guard Industries. "We are hopeful that the festival will rekindle the spirit of good times and prosperity and brands are optimistic that consumers too will reciprocate positively," he adds. 

Nandagopal Nair, Vice President & Head – Brand & Communications, V-Guard Industries

On his part, Damyant Singh Khanoria, Chief Marketing Officer, OPPO India believes that the festive season in India is an important time for every consumer brand as this is the time when consumers tend to increase their spending significantly. He points out, "Onam is one of the most awaited festivals in India, where we witness maximum sales for smartphones in southern markets." 

Damyant Singh Khanoria, Chief Marketing Officer, OPPO India

Umashan Naidoo, Head of Customer, Westside - A Tata Enterprise observes that the festival of Eid was a harbinger of what was to come: "Eid was an amazing teaser to the undying spirit and sentiment of the people as Westside witnessed a lift in sales across Men's, Women's, and Kid's Wear, and Home. If this is the taste of what the festive season does to fashion, we are excited about the upcoming months and festivities.”  

Umashan Naidoo, Head of Customer, Westside - A Tata Enterprise

Fashion e-commerce major Myntra onboarded Mollywood actor Dulquer Salmaan, as its new brand ambassador, just ahead of Onam, as part of Myntra’s biggest-ever celebrity-led campaign, 'India’s Fashion Expert'. 

Harish Narayanan, CMO, Myntra says, “With Dulquer, we are hoping to strengthen Myntra’s presence and build more salience for the brand in the region. We will also be launching the female leg of the campaign with Samantha Akkineni, whom we onboarded as part of the Myntra family last year itself and who is also a much loved and known name in Kerala.”  

Harish Narayanan, CMO, Myntra

Grabbing The Eyeballs 

As brands up their communication to remain top-of-the-mind, Myntra has taken a 360-degree approach. Narayanan explains, “It's important for us to ensure that we reach out to the customers across multiple touch-points. Therefore the recent campaign ‘India’s Fashion Expert’ has been launched with a 360-degree approach, with a large share of the same being  driven by a combination of TV and digital platforms, including Google, Facebook and Instagram.”  

Adds Khanoria, "We are running Onam ads across electronic channels and social media. In addition, we are also running exciting Onam offers throughout the month of August and lucky draws for users to win Kia Seltos HTK G, Royal Enfield Bullet 350, Gold Coins, and user favourite OPPO products. With Onam, we have entered the festive season and we look forward to a positive response from our customers.” 

 V-Guard Industries’ marketing activities are geared to drive consumer engagement through both above-the-line and below-the-line investments. Nair says, “Our brand-building efforts and communication outreach have a judicious mix of traditional media and emerging digital media. They are witnessing a progressively increasing spend towards digital marketing in line with the evolving media consumption habits of the new-age consumers.” 

The brand is leveraging television to build awareness for its newer categories like kitchen and driving digital marketing initiatives – including using the micro-influencer community - aimed at lead generation and building meaningful engagement. 

Naidoo states that as a brand, Westside focus is on Digital: “We’ve always played in the social media space and realized it’s the most direct way to engage as a strategy. Festive makes retail come alive. We are optimistic about the customer's sentiment lifting as a celebration is much needed.” 

Meeting The Demand

The positive sentiment has spurred brands to go all out to woo the consumer. With product innovation at its core, Haier has launched appliances and announced gratifications to capture the wallet of the Kerala consumer. 

Satish says, "We recently launched the S8 Series, Haier Smart TV to give consumers a unique entertainment experience while they spend more time at home due to the current situation. Moreover, we are introducing some exciting consumer offers such as cash-back, discounts and finance options for our consumers, to add to the festive cheer in Kerala and all across India."

Commenting on how V-Guard Industries’ is gearing up to handle any upsurge in demand, Nair says, “As a brand, we are geared to respond to any uptick in consumer demand for related products from our portfolio. We believe that owing to the strengths associated with our brand -- distribution, product range and resilience in a challenging business environment -- it is well poised to leverage any demand revival this festive season.” 

Myntra has seen ‘good’ demand and seen impressive growth in Kerala recently, backed by the heavy traffic seen from the state and the addition of Kerala-specific selection on the platform.

Myntra also launched the Onam store in the last week of July, targeting the Kerala base, with relevant articles like kasavu sarees, mundus and dhotis, temple jewellery, pattu pavadai for kids, etc. which has received great traction. Says Narayanan, “Keeping the past two years' performance in mind, we have taken aggressive bets for Onam. Our focused brand campaign will help propel this objective further.” 

Keeping up with the festive season, the ethnic wear collections at Westside have been revitalized. Even during the pandemic, Naidoo says that the collection has shown impressive growth. “We are aware that to encourage walk-in and stimulate sales, almost every retailer will be giving discounts and promoting various deals. However, we have decided to get the collection right by understanding the psyche of women during festive buying and then offer them irresistible value,” he says.

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