Mumbai: If you thought COVID is more likely to dampen the festive spirits this year, then you got it all wrong. Custodians of top brands believe that ‘revenge spending’ accompanied by other factors will boost demand this festive season.
This was debated by the top marketers and advertisers who participated in the webinar ‘Brands and Consumers: Will this Festive Season Reignite Growth? Future Outlook for brands’, organised by the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) in association with the Free Press Journal and Republic TV. The knowledge partner for the webinar was Mogae Media and RED FM was the radio partner.
The panellists for the session were (in alphabetical order) Anuj Jain, Executive Director, Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd.; Elizabeth Venkataraman, Joint President – Consumer, Commercial and Wealth Marketing, Kotak Mahindra Bank; Navnit Nakra, Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, OnePlus India; Ravi Desai, Director, Mass and Brand Marketing, Amazon India and Sadashiv Nayak, Chief Executive Officer, Future Retail Ltd. The session was moderated by Ramakrishnan Ramamurthi, Chairman, ISA events.
According to panellists, this festive season the consumers are eagerly waiting to go out and celebrate festivities with caution. This is more likely to boost demand for various products and services offered by brands, stated the top marketers.
Ravi Desai, Director, Mass and Brand Marketing, Amazon India, said, “Last year’s Diwali coincided with the first wave (of COVID).” But that is not the case this year as most consumers try to “reclaim their lives”.
“There is a level of excitement (among consumers this festive season).” Desai added.
“This festive season consumers can go back to fulfilling their wants rather than just focusing on their needs which they did last festive season.”
Elizabeth Venkataraman, Joint President – Consumer, Commercial and Wealth Marketing, Kotak Mahindra Bank, stated, the need versus want concern was prevalent among consumer’s spending behaviour in large parts of the country.
She added many customers were postponing their purchases anticipating better deals or offers in the future. “This is mainly because the value of money was felt.”
Venkataraman asserted, “The demand dipped during the pandemic. But 80-85 per cent of the demand is back now.” The festive season is expected to reignite demand further.
Commenting on revenge spending, Ramakrishnan Ramamurthi, Chairman, ISA events, said, “Revenge spending is expected this festive season. Everyone is exhausted from being scared of the pandemic. Today, there is a rise in mobility, a positive outlook to fight the pandemic and so on. This shows a reduction in the fear psychosis among people.” He further revealed some industry clusters will be looking at performing better than 2019 (pre-pandemic level).
Navnit Nakra, Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, OnePlus India said, “The positive sentiment is on the rise as we enter the festive season.” Many urban Indians, as per a survey, have shown a higher appetite to spend this festive season compared to the last festive season. “This is a positive indication of what is around the corner. In the April-June quarter, there was an 82 per cent jump in smartphones, compared to the last quarter,” stated Nakra.
Citing demand for a product category, Anuj Jain, Executive Director, Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd said, “During this (ongoing pandemic) time, we saw a rise in demand for long-lasting paints. This proved that consumers are ready to spent if the product addresses their needs.”
Jain revealed that after the rollback of lockdown after the first wave, the smaller market responded faster whereas the urban market took much longer to bounce back. “Consumers were more conscious. However, the return of the demand was faster than we anticipated.” Jain asserted that the confidence level is high among consumers. Even the brand is optimistic about the demand this festive season, he hinted.
Despite online options, shoppers are still indulging in the shopping experience through brick-and-mortar stores. For these customers, brands like Big Bazaar are trying to make the whole experience seamless and safe. Sadashiv Nayak, Chief Executive Officer, Future Retail, revealed retailers have seen shoppers coming back to stores. However, these customers are a lot more conscious. Nayak said, “Consumers are happy and positive. However, they are negotiating on how they want to shop.”
He said there was some shift in consumer behaviour. “In this (COVID) phase, we saw two things come up — one was caring and another was contributing.” Nayak added some consumer behaviour continues even during the ongoing pandemic like browsing and gifting; and saving.