Why are brands early for the festive season party this year?

Marketers say early festive marketing initiatives open up more possibilities, and brands are trying to increase visibility and gain customer mindshare by stating early

e4m by Shantanu David
Published: Aug 12, 2022 8:37 AM  | 6 min read
Festive season

It’s become so common that it’s become a trope: the autumn or fall season starts in the US when Starbucks releases its Pumpkin Spice Latte, with the joke being that every year it comes out earlier and earlier, weather patterns be damned.

A peep into the festive season in India led to this writer receiving emails informing that festive seasons have already started, in July

As per Kearney Research, India's retail industry is projected to grow at 9% over 2019-2030, from US$ 779 billion in 2019 to US$ 1,407 billion by 2026 and more than US$ 1.8 trillion by 2030, and retailers here are learning from the more developed markets out west, with this writer having received emails informing us that festive seasons have already started, in July.

Throwing more light on this, Sudish Balan, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder at Tonic Worldwide, shared that a Pinterest report showed the ad opportunity for Christmas was from July to December. “It was based on their findings that people start planning for Christmas right from July. The other reason for the early start can be attributed to the change in consumer behaviour during the pandemic. With Covid restrictions people felt the need for smaller reasons to celebrate as well.”

Have consumption patterns changed? Well, Shajesh Menon, Founder & CEO, Younion, thinks that is the case with Covid being a driver for this change. “The pandemic has changed consumption patterns drastically, people are choosing quality over quantity, so the advancing of the marketing calendar is definitely a nudge to tempt shoppers with the help of a longer advertising window. What’s more, impulse drives like cashback, special coupons, last-day offers, no-cost EMIs, etc., add to the urgency and competitiveness with a flawed-but-persuasive logic and coax shoppers to spend more in order to save.”

Sharing more on the pandemic’s influence, Mukesh Vij - Founder - Hashtag Orange points out that “Because of Covid-19 and other changes in customer behaviour, I believe marketers have begun to rethink their holiday marketing plans. Marketers are also making early and aggressive attempts because of the growing internet and smartphone penetration.”

“Multi-media advertising and robust gift-pack promotions are becoming more commonplace for the company. There are several chances for businesses and brands alike to engage with their target audience throughout the holiday season. In addition, some people plan their shopping months in advance. There are also buyers who wait until the last minute. To me, early festive marketing initiatives open up more possibilities for marketers,” he adds.

Bharati Balakrishnan, Country Head and Director, India at Shopify, says “Over the past two years, there has been a major change in the ways and locations where Indian customers purchase. While the majority of millennials in Tier-1 metro areas regularly shop online, Indians from Tier-II and Tier-III towns are also beginning to look and purchase online. In fact, Shopify's Festive Shopping Outlook Report 2021 found that more than half (53%) of millennial consumers from non-metros in India strongly preferred online shopping. And, more broadly, three-quarters (77%) of Indian consumers plan to shop online during the festive season due to the convenience it offers.”

“This made people realise that celebrations and the happiness that is derived from them can be experienced throughout the season and even before. They don’t have to wait for major events/festivals. They can enjoy ‘mini festive moments’. So, now the festive shopper is not just shopping for bigger festivals but also smaller gatherings and activities,” says Balan, adding, “In India, it makes all the more sense to start early. As early as July, festivities start from August with Ganesh Chaturthi, Raksha Bandhan and more. In such times, creating individual IPs for each festive event is just not prudent. Additionally, there is a need to push the media, aggressively and extensively, in order to even make a dent in all the noise during a festive event. Also, these events fall so close together that there is hardly any time to build an IP for one festive campaign.”

As for Mangesh Panditrao, CEO & Co-Founder, Shoptimize, brands are possibly trying to increase visibility and gain customer mindshare by stating festive promotions early in the day. He additionally points out that managing order volumes, returns, etc., during the peak of the festive season can be challenging, and so by launching the festive campaigns early, brands can ensure smooth operations and flatten the curve.

“Though the bigger question is will consumers act out of habit and respond to this tactic? As typically they have a tendency to wait for better deals closer to the festival. But this new-age trend is definitely worth trying,” notes Panditrao.

Anshuk Aggarwal, Co-Founder AdYogi, observes that festive calendars are highly essential in an eCommerce success journey. “With Rakshabandhan, Eid, Diwali, and other big-sale occasions on their way, it's important that Indian eCommerce brands prepare ahead. Brands that have started their marketing activities well in advance in the past have seen a much better ROAS performance during the season as compared to others. The primary reason for this result is this available window that helps in structuring different campaign objectives covering sale awareness and new audience conversions. It helps in filtering out the high-intent audience before the actual sale itself, which can then be retargeted during the sale period.”

However, one can’t help wondering if all this pomp and ceremony could lead to customer fatigue. As of now, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Aggarwal says that starting marketing and promotions early in fact has a lot of upsides rather than downsides. “It also enables small brands to compete in the market with lower CPMs since bigger brands go full-fledged during the season. A best practice that brands can adapt to not impact the on-going performance of their campaigns is by launching new mid-funnel campaigns that exclude the previously-engaged audiences and reach new customers.”

Shajesh Menon further pointed out that within the ecommerce space, Independence Day sales have been a big milestone for a while now, as brands see a significant spike in GMV during this period, and consumers wait for the sales to hit to turn their shopping mode on. As retail moves to the omnichannel model, both online and offline brands are parking big bucks for the second half of the year and they start seeing momentum build up to Dussehra and Diwali.

“In recent years, while on one hand, the end consumer mind space and risk appetite have moved up significantly due to wider avenues of exposure, on the other hand, technology plays a great leveller enabling unprecedented channels for promotion, wider reach, sharper targeting, better measurement metrics and evolved trade practices. The snowball effect much like in global markets was only waiting to happen,” he added.


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