Auspicious buying starts tomorrow: Will this rekindle ad sales in Indian media?

Industry players across the board say this year Covid will further push marketers to invest in the festive period while brands compete for share of voice & sales

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Sep 17, 2020 8:29 AM
Festive shopping

The talk in the past few months, in the media business just like other sectors, has been about dwindling sales and deteriorating toplines. But the stars are finally looking up. This time literally so.

The reason: 18th September to 16th October is the auspicious time for buying, says astrology.

This period, popularly called Adhik Maas, is thus a month-long ‘shopping festival season’ or a Diwali-like opportunity to buy clothes, jewellery, cars, bikes and other consumer durables.

But do Indian marketers believe in auspicious periods and does this change the way they spend their ad dollars?

To share more on this we spoke to Jai Lala, COO, Publicis Group-owned media agency Zenith. “Unlike the western countries, Indian festivals do not take place on fixed days, rather the festivals span over an entire season depending on planetary positions and other such factors. This is when Indians splurge the most. For instance, Dhanteras is a time to buy gold, similarly Adhik Maas is when people buy two-wheelers, four-wheelers and other consumer durables. Most brands would spend 60 per cent of their advertising budget during such times. The Covid situation has further pushed marketers to invest during festive seasons for guaranteed ROI.”

Abraham Thomas, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd, shared similar projections. “The festive period of September to December is also called the 5th Quarter where close to 40 to 45 per cent of annual business occurs. Adhik Maas or the ‘additional month’ this year before Diwali is expected to aid shopping and push marketers to spend more as we see a plethora of brands vying for attention.”

Growth in ad sales is expected across media. With events like IPL falling in the same pre-festive period, the advertiser is further pushed to invest in advertisements for gaining maximum impact and reach.

After a stifling first quarter, print is making a slow but steady comeback. Print brands are confident that the onset of the auspicious period will bring most of their clientele back on board.

Media experts believe print will benefit most out of this auspicious period as advertisers that were only looking at television or digital during the lockdown are finally ready to be back on print.

“During the festive period the consumer mindset is positive and that is when they look at buying various products. This is where newspapers come in. Newspapers play a vital role in influencing the consumer in the process of purchasing products. That is the sole reason why advertisers advertise heavily during these festival times. For example, we see huge surges during Navaratri, Onam, Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Dussehra, Holi, Gangaur, Teej, etc. It’s all about feeling happy and positive during these auspicious times and making a purchase,” said Girish Agarwaal, Promoter Director - Dainik Bhaskar Group.

As per the latest TamAdEx data, of all the advertisers coming back to print, 75% are in Hindi and English. Interestingly, media planners say print that was down to zero business in the initial months of lockdown will try and make up for the loss in this period by increasing their edition volume and also hiking ad rates.

Apart from the print industry, radio is gearing up for an active period as well. Most players are believing that recovery will begin with Adhik Maas. “We at BIG FM have also rolled out many initiatives for this period, specifically around festivals. Also post the lockdown, with supply logistics getting resolved and the good monsoons boosting the rural economy, there will be an overall recovery. As a medium, radio is cautiously optimistic of the next four months ahead,” Thomas explained.

With the geographic unlocking of the economy, there is a K-shaped recovery as certain categories are booming while others bear the brunt, he added. “Radio is a preferred partner for brands owing to its mass local reach and high engagement with the credible RJ influencers. Advertisers will look at leveraging the strengths of the medium to reach out to their target audience. Radio + Digital with their seamless integration further help amplify their brand message,” Thomas said.

BFSI, Automobile, FMCG, Consumer Non-Durables and e-commerce are expected to drive the bounce-back across board.

Even as auspicious timings are expected to do the trick some experts believe that there is a dual factor of timing and pent-up demand that is expected to work this year.
Others say that while print and radio will be used to encourage buying, television is set to continue to be used as medium for brand building. Television is hopeful of seeing a turnaround in business this season.

“This Diwali should see a huge spike as businesses have been largely dormant over the last few months and each brand will compete for its share of voice and sales. The month-on-month ad volumes are already going up, and the festive quarter will see a further increase. The consumption is also showing an uptick. Consumer sentiments are improving and that is reassuring for brands looking to bounce back,” shared Rahul Shaw, COO, TV Today Network Ltd.

What would work further in favour for the medium is also the reach and unprecedented growth in viewership. Experts believe the numbers will go up further pushing both ad rates and ad sales.

According to Mona Jain, Chief Revenue Officer, ABP Network, “Television viewership numbers will also see an upward trend especially with regard to high impact events like IPL and Bihar elections, alongside reality content and festival-oriented programming for Diwali and Durga Puja, resulting in higher ad sales. For the broadcast industry, this is a tremendous opportunity to accelerate recovery post Unlock. The festive season contributes a large chunk to advertising expenditure every year, claiming almost 40% of the annual ad spends. This year, the spend skew will only be higher post the lockdown period due to the implications of COVID-19.”

The season that starts with Ganesh Chaturthi and Onam peaks during Diwali and continues up to Christmas.

Sharing more reasons to be optimistic, Jain said: “The market sentiment looks much more promising now and we are optimistic about revenue generation in the upcoming quarter. Furthermore, this is the time when consumers make big-ticket purchases in industries like auto, mobile handsets and home electronics. Therefore, categories like e-commerce, apparel, jewellery, automobile and electronics will significantly spend on advertising and brand building.”

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