Throwing new light?

Sparkling sales? Diwali is the Holy Grail of business for most e-commerce players in India, accounting for a third of their annual sales

Three dominant advertising themes are seen in their full glory, every Diwali season, irrespective of category and brand. Which one works?



Was advertising during Diwali any different than the previous years? Here’s a look at the dominant advertising themes during this Diwali, last year and the years before that.

Sample this: Less than 2 per cent of India’s population shops online. This in spite of throwing the kitchen sink at the consumers in the form of ridiculous discounts, cash-on-delivery, 30-day return policy … the list just keeps growing.

Even within this 2 per cent, a large majority is the occasional online purchaser, with the occasion being specifically discounts. The loyal online buyer remains an excruciatingly small segment and one that cannot guarantee a large volume of sale. Which is why Diwali is the Holy Grail of business for most e-commerce players in India, accounting for a third of their annual sales. It is when the full might of that roughly 28 million (2 per cent of Indian population) occasional Indian shopper base can be tapped into, using the occasion of Diwali.

This phenomenon isn’t new. A few years ago, jewellery brands hogged the air waves during Diwali. Then it was cars, then white goods, mobile phone manufacturers and now, e-tailers.

In all probability, Diwali still accounts for a major portion of most consumer goods’ annual sales. It’s just that the categories with the deepest pockets keep changing every few years. The content hasn’t changed, in terms of the themes, over the years.

There remain three dominant advertising themes that are seen in their full glory, every Diwali season, irrespective of category and brand.

The ‘Sale Pappu’ theme

Simply put, it screams “you-can’t-believe-itper-cent-off” in the loudest manner possible. From the era of jewellery brands with Kalyan Jewellers to the mid-segment consumer electronics brands such as Sharp and Akai to Big Bazaar, this theme has changed many hands. Amongst the e-tailers, Flipkart has stayed true to this “deep discount for Diwali” theme with its Big Billion Day.

The ‘Tere mere sapne’ theme

“Fulfil your dream or your family’s dream this Diwali!” Now haven’t we heard that one before? In its latest avatar, Snapdeal calls it “Unbox Zindagi”.

The “Art of Giving” theme

Diwali setting. Lots of crackers. Bell rings. Grumpy man opens door. Unknown guy hugs Uncle and gives him gift, saying he broke his glass many years ago. Happy Diwali. Cadbury’s Celebrations. Change end-frame, put Amazon.in. Many years later, the theme still works.

When the world didn’t know Facebook or a smartphone, Indian companies created ads for Diwali around these themes. Cut to 2016, the digitally savvy e-tailers still embrace these traditional themes to attract a new consumer base. The question is this: Which of these strategies is the most effective? Your guess is as good as mine. And Flipkart’s. And Snapdeal’s. And Amazon’s.

With as much as $1.2 billion riding on this season for these e-tailers, we do hope for their sakes and the sake of their nervous investors that they have seen the light in this festival of lights.

Published on November 03, 2016
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