I think Indian marketers are amongst the luckiest breeds on this planet. They are in one of the world’s largest consumer markets, with a rapidly growing consuming class. This makes rapid growth of brands a clear possibility, unlike many other countries in the western world. They have the privilege of serving a vast and diverse country, which presents opportunities and challenges worthy of an entire continent. In several categories, Indian consumers are and will continue to upgrade – from commodity to brand, from unorganised kirana shops to organised retail stores – which also constantly creates new marketing possibilities.

There is, however, one more important dimension on which our marketers are very lucky. They are presented with multiple opportunities throughout the year, which can be potential triggers for consumer purchase. What is unique is that these opportunities arise on account of so many different influences which affect modern Indian society – religious, cultural, uniquely Indian, totally global, climatic, sports-driven, and even academic-driven. Perhaps no other country in the world offers such a full almanac for marketers each season. Let me explain.

Unique Indian festivals To begin with, India has a large population of followers of at least three major religions, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. In addition, the Hindu religion observes an extraordinarily large number of festivals, which, in many cases, also differ across regions. This creates a huge number of religious events and celebrations, each of which can offer triggers for immediate consumption, if marketers leverage them well. Here is an illustrative list, by no means exhaustive: Diwali, Christmas, Easter, the month of Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr, Akshaya Tritiya, Dhanteras, Ganesha Chaturthi, Sankranti, Pongal, Karva Chauth, Baisakhi, Maha Shivaratri, Holi, Vasant Panchami, Ugadi, Onam, Raksha Bandhan, Chhath. It is unlikely that many other countries offer marketers such bountiful opportunity.

Adding to these religious events, many of which are uniquely Indian, are an increasing number of global celebrations which are also now being lapped up by Indians. These include Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and New Year’s Day. Some of these have appeared on our marketing calendar only over the past decade, and each of them offers great possibilities. Such is the appeal of these modern “global days” that in some specific product categories, I am told that sales on Valentine’s Day now exceed sales on Diwali.

Sports and weather Then we have Indian sporting events. Admittedly each country has these, but perhaps India has more than its fair share – particularly with cricket being a national religion, and this wonderful game also having multiple mega events, including different formats of World Cups, and, in recent years, the IPL extravaganza which extends to several weeks each year. To which one should add the Indian fascination with global sports in which we are yet to make a serious mark – for instance football, tennis or athletics.

And we should not forget to mention that nature too has bestowed some unique opportunities on Indian marketers. So many parts of this country oscillate between freezing winters, boiling summers and pouring monsoons, which create special product needs for each of these extreme seasons.

Busy June As an example of this busy Indian almanac, consider the current month of June. Here are the special opportunities marketers can leverage during just these four weeks.

World Environment Day (June 5): All products or services that claim to be good for the environment, or committed to some form of “green” practices, can market themselves really well on this special day. So retailers can market devices which save energy, bicycles or fuel-efficient cars can appeal to people who wish to cut back on fossil fuel, and brands of foodstuff which are sourced from responsible farms can urge consumers to happily consume their wares without any guilt.

Father’s Day (June 15): Here is a global relationship day which is fast making an impact in India. Any product that children can gift their fathers can launch a special marketing campaign during this period, fortified with strong emotional appeal. This Father’s Day season, I have seen advertisements for wrist watches, shirts, neckties, shoes, and even one that shows father and son using shaving razors side by side. Football Season (throughout this month): With the start of the World Cup, a host of marketers, retailers and hotels appear to be organising promotional campaigns around football. There are “Special 11” offers of various kinds, football-inspired food and beer festivals, assorted advertisements that evoke the spirit of Brazil, and many other interesting marketing devices which are described elsewhere in this newspaper. Then there is officially sponsored World Cup merchandise on offer, as well as small entrepreneurs looking to make the quick buck by selling on pavements the “unofficial” colourful jerseys of every participating team.

Monsoon: As the annual rains keep their date with India, marketers can rush to help consumers with a number of critical needs – washing machines with drying chambers, raincoats, appropriate shoes, umbrellas, waterproofing material, hot tea and coffee, even monsoon skin products.

Last few days of summer: Even as the monsoons make their entry, the last few days of summer continue to sizzle in many parts of the country. Even as you read this article, parts of North India are still experiencing red-hot temperatures higher than 40 degrees C. Brands of air conditioners, air coolers, soft drinks, ice-creams, cold mineral water, sunscreens, moisturisers – they can all capitalise on these last unbearable hot days of summer.

Back to School season: Given that India has a relatively young age profile in its population, millions of students return to school by end-June or July each year. They need a host of products, ranging from uniforms, backpacks or schoolbags, shoes and socks, lunchboxes, compass boxes, calculators, books, and, in these modern days, even computers. Once again, this is happy hunting ground for a range of marketers and brands.

Wedding muhurats : While there are no major Hindu or Islamic festivals during June, marketers can target at least twelve auspicious wedding muhurat days during the month, defined as per the Hindu calendar. For an Indian family, there is nothing like a big, fat wedding to get consumption going. Brands can also prepare themselves for busy Guru Purnima or Eid-al-Fitr festivals, both of which fall during the succeeding month of July. Sometimes, as in the case of Akshaya Tritiya or Dhanteras, marketers also launch early campaigns well in advance of the date of these religious festivals.

While this has been a quick voyage through just four weeks of June, the Indian festival and event calendar is equally crowded every single month. For marketers who are focused on growth, there is hence no dearth of opportunity in our country to stoke the fires of consumption. All you need is imagination and an easily accessible marketer’s almanac.

Harish Bhat is the author of Tata Log : Eight modern stories from a timeless Institution. These are his personal views. bhatharish@hotmail.com

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