Asked if marketing spends have gone up this festive season and whether it will touch pre-Covid levels, we received three contrasting responses.
“Yes. Spends have gone up during this festive season and it definitely looks like it will touch the pre-Covid period. Add to that, plenty of Indian crickets and the T20 World Cup will fuel it,” says Vinay Hegde, Chief Buying Officer, Madison Media.
He notes that premium electronics, smartphones, apparel, personal care products and consumer durables are expected to be the hot categories, with e-commerce, fintech, travel, and tourism being other categories ‘to watch out for’.
“FMCG is also expected to maintain its momentum. With maximum budgets parked for this period by most brands, this is expected to be a highly heated festive season,” says Hegde.
But there is room for concern, when he adds: “That said, the volatility in crude oil prices and the appreciation of the US dollar may feed into the inflation and result in some cautious optimism which may come into play post-festive.”
Not everyone is as bullish. MK Machaiah, Chief Client Officer & Office Head – South, Wavemaker India, points to the inflation that has gone up from 3.7pc in 2019 to 7pc currently.
He says, “Clearly, inflation is going to affect marketer and consumers. If inflation is going to affect marketers one of the key areas where the spends get cut is advertising. In that respect, the 2022 festive season will be an average season and I don’t expect buoyancy this year. I don’t think this festive season (media) spends will touch last year’s mark.”
Machaiah too is concerned about the ‘i’ word. He explains, “Consumers are playing it safe. Liquidity seems to be a problem due to high inflation. FMCG, e-com, auto, paints, fashion, mobile, white goods, etc. will be active. Simply saying, the evergreen brands of India will be advertising this season with controlled investment. The new age brands (brands that are five to seven years old) around financial services, gaming, e-com, etc. will hardly spend; if they do it will only be a few and at 50pc of last festive season spends.”
Meanwhile, a media head who did not wish to be named underlines that categories that need to capitalise on the festive season have no option but to invest in wooing consumers.
Consumer brands bullish after pandemic
Food brands are already out with festive fervour. We see new campaigns in categories from chocolates to dairy flooding the media.
“Both festive seasons of 2020 and 2021 (Aug-Dec) have been filled with lockdowns in some or the other market, fear of infection, most of the population working from homes. Further, many retail stores and malls were also restricted leading to a significant reduction in footfalls. Even most of the movie releases were postponed. As a result, the excitement to shop was mellowed. Across categories, we saw a tepid response to these festive seasons. With the pandemic behind us, this festive season looks to be promising with the celebrations reaching a two-year high. One can feel the pulse here in Mumbai and Maharashtra with the upcoming Ganesh Chaturthi festival preparations and in Kerala for Onam celebrations. One can imagine the spends going disproportionately higher during Dussehra and Diwali and lasting till Christmas and New Year,” says Krishnarao Buddha, Senior Category Head, Parle Products.
Parle expects its premium range of Platina biscuits that has multiple gifting options to do well, besides its salty snacks, packaged cakes, and confectionery. These are products that see a surge in sales during the festive season, adds Buddha.
The company, which spends about 40pc of its adex in the August to December period, is upping the ante this year.
Buddha reveals, “Looking at the consumer excitement and eagerness to spend, we are increasing our marketing spends by additional 10pc during this period and have a higher share of voice in the category.”
From food to footwear, there is hope in the post-Covid consumer’s spending.
VKC Razak, MD, VKC Group, explains, “We can say that this is the first festival in the post-Covid situation. So, we expect a good festive season ahead. The festive season in 2020 and 2021 has been low profile and couldn’t create a festive wave. We hope this season will be different.”
For VKC, there are specific product lines that are expected to do well like its Roman collection for gents and VKC Pride ‘World of Women’ range.
Asked about spends this festive season, he says, “Festive season always has a bigger ad spend. Obviously, it is going up this year.”
Elementary, as some would say.