Festive Marketing

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on November 15, 2012

“Marketing is the social process by which individuals and organizations obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging value with others.” Kotler and Armstrong (2010)There is something special about the festive season. The cacophony of drums, the aroma of sweets, the glitter of decorations –mesmerising lights and sparkling colours and of course, loads of discounts and offers! Suddenly a new world opens up to you presenting discounts and offers on literally every possible product or service.As we know, marketing takes various forms depending on geographies, seasons, demographics, consumer preferences and many other factors.


Festive Marketing


One such form of marketing is Festive Marketing, specifically undertaken during festive occasions. Indian festivals like Diwali, Holi, Christmas, Id etc. are also major stakeholders in formulating the marketing strategy aimed at people who want to take advantage of special discounts, freebies or buy costly products during auspicious times. Mostly companies offer festive scheme during this time since many companies witness 40% growth in sales. According to a research conducted by Assocham, E-Shopping during the forthcoming festive season is likely to go up by 350% for a variety of products. Discounts on many articles sold around Diwali range from 10-15% to 80-90% depending upon product vertical. The other offers are lucky draws, free shipping, free gifts and gift vouchers. An estimated 1.25 crore customers did e-shopping of items worth around Rs 5,000 crore in 2011. Despite the global downturn, this trend is expected to continue.During the festival occasion, the trend to buy electronic goods witnesses upswing since it is considered as auspicious time. The Indian auto sector is also leaving no stone unturned to enhance its sales figures. Reports suggest that many auto players are providing discounts and also finance help.

Decoding the reason behind such surge in sales, the answer boils down to customer’s emotions. Festive season buys are emotional buys or intuitive purchases. Psychographics would be the right term to study both emotions and lifestyle simultaneously and understand the motivation to spend. Special advertisements run during Diwali comprises your old and humble soft-drink Coca-cola, chocolate sweets Cadbury, a plethora of smartly packaged smart-phones and our forever loyal consumer durables ranging from digital cameras to LCD TVs.    One may wonder – Does Cola taste any different, does chocolate becomes sweeter or replace your traditional sweets but these unscrupulous ads successfully amalgamate festive season mood with our emotional subconscious and we tend to buy relentlessly. Organisations or Corporations also tend to give Diwali/ Christmas bonuses or gifts encouraging further to indulge ourselves in the festivities. A holiday season and plenty of ads in print media or TV commercials entice us to make irrational or in some cases rational decisions. Behavioural finance validates this and the role played by plastic money, to make our emotions dominate over matters of mind.

Just like in India, festive marketing is prevalent in the West too. However, unlike India, the festive season in the Western markets is confined to the months of November to January. During this time, brands need to ensure they cut through the noise and deliver campaigns that really stand out, so creativity and timing are vital. In West, festive season kicks off with the Black Friday sales. As a build up to that brands ensure that their customers know about exciting festival deals and offers on their products. Target, Best Buy, Walmart, e-bay, Coca Cola and other major giants launch their most creative and integrated Christmas-themed marketing campaigns just before the festive season. Major retailers and producers spend a better part of the year to develop, produce, and administer their festive marketing campaigns. While many try to connect, only few succeed. Let us look at some of the data to see how big the festival season in the West is. As per comScore Network, an internet audience measurement firm, consumers spent a record $2 billion online in the week after Thanksgiving in 2011.

Black Friday

The term Black Friday is associated with the day after Thanksgiving. It was originally coined to refer to the 1869 financial crisis. But in the early 1980s, another definition made its way into popular culture and survives today: The day retailers' financial statements went from red, indicating a loss, to black, thanks to holiday sales.

Not only that, online sales jumped 18% on Thanksgiving Day to $479 million, while online sales were up 26% to $816 million on Black Friday.Marketers realise this huge sales potential during holiday season, and are ready to bend backwards to boost their revenues. In 2011, an unprecedented number of retailers opened on the Thanksgiving Day, including Target and K-Mart. Many other major retailers including Macy's, Best Buy, and Walmart touted earlier-than-ever-before store openings, leading to the coining of the term "Black Midnight."Over last few years, social media has emerged as an effective tool for festive marketing due to the personable campaigns that can be created. Companies are engaging customers in unprecedented ways such as sharing Thanksgiving recipes, encouraging customers to share their Christmas memories from the past on social networks, giving them gift vouchers for multiple-competitions run during the festive weeks, et al.

All this while, they don't even mention that they want their customers to shop at their stores.While the big companies publish full-page ads in newspapers and magazines around the country, buy prime time TV spots for their Christmas-themed ad campaigns, and inundate the radio with their promotional campaigns, small and mid-sized businesses are not far behind. They are using online ads and social media marketing targeted to the right customer segment in a cost-effective manner. As per National Retail Federation (NRF) in US, many small and mid-sized retailers do as much as 20-40 percent of their annual sales in the final two months of the calendar year. September to November is a critical period for small businesses. They are planning well in advance that leads to the kind of December that will set them up to go into the New Year in a strong position. They start generating stronger customer loyalty few months prior to festive season, are using themes and localizing their holiday promotions, reaching out to church, community, or school groups, and choosing their product offering wisely.  During the festive season, shoppers' objectives evolve from evaluating a gamut of potential gift items to purchasing particular products that they have been planning to buy for months.

Anyone involved in Festive Shopping is so engrossed that she may easily forget to do any discount math. It could be possible that deals are really discounted and price that one pays is lower to what one might have paid before the festive season, however there are other concerns as well. Shoppers tend to consider items under sale as affordable which were luxury earlier. Another concern while making the purchase decision is the social risk involved where higher the luxurious items you purchase, higher the social status you command among your friends or relatives or neighbours. But despite all these concerns from a customer’s perspective, festive season remains the time when both the buyer and the seller are happy.


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This article has been authored by Chirag Jain and Anushree Singhal from FMS.

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