The festive season in India is an opportunity for brands to connect with their customers and roll out compelling marketing campaigns to promote their products. And this year has been a bumper for both e-commerce platforms and retail outlets with the surge of customers making heavy purchases. As per reports, online retailers clocked about 5.7 billion USD worth of festive shopping in the last ten days of September alone, a whopping 27% Y-o-Y growth.
Offline sales are also seeing a surge this year after two years of restricted mobility. Overall, both consumers and markets seem to have been geared up for nothing less than an extravagant celebration.
This makes the festive season an excellent opportunity for brands to find new customers and increase brand awareness and loyalty.
Businesses are already capturing positive customer sentiments with their personalized marketing campaigns and other promotional offers. But still, it will be challenging for brands to turn them into loyal customers beyond the festive season sales.
Reports suggest that about 76% of customers are influenced by ads when making a purchase decision, while 49% are by offers and discounts.
Though there is a lot of excitement in the market, most Indian customers tend to be “brand switchers,” with about 53% of them being brand neutral. And to capture the attention of both loyal customers and switchers, companies need to look beyond the typical marketing strategies.
Decode your customers
Understanding the behaviour of your customers during the festive season is a must if marketers want to win their loyalty. In the past two years, shoppers changed not only where and how they purchased but also what they purchased and why.
Most customers are looking for convenience in the battle between online and offline. This need for comfort also includes the shopping experience, with no room for any clutter. For brands, this translates to access to information and seamless transactions.
People have also started to pay more attention to brands’ stories and their mindsets. They ask about ethical practices and ask for accountability to engage with the brand in a meaningful way.
Brands can win their customers by being more transparent, authentic, relevant, and trustworthy. You can win people’s loyalty when they can identify with your mission and narratives. For example, Ben & Jerry’s value page shows that they are hyper-transparent about how they do business and the causes they support.
Similarly, an Indian cosmetic brand called NeutriGlow is positioning its product as safe, natural, and affordable. Everyone can use its skincare and haircare solutions, and on this positive note, it is expecting to ramp up its sales this festive season.
Overall, be it fashion, FMCG, real estate, or jewellery, there should be no stone left unturned to understand customers for brands to draw them to their offerings for the season and turn them into loyal customers.
Create clear incentives for your customers
Shoppers tend to have a sense of urgency, compelling them to make a purchase when they believe that something they need or want will sell out. To benefit from this behaviour, brands offer deep pricing discounts during this time of the year.
When creating your festive marketing plans, ensure you incentivize shoppers to complete a purchase with you, either offline or online. At the same time, be conscious of the fine line between discounts and building a long-term relationship with your customers. There’s no point in devaluing your brand to a point where people believe it's cheap and never return.
Don’t make the mistake of looking at the festive season to make revenues alone. It is also about establishing a connection with your customers and ensuring that they will return to purchase, even in the off-season. And brands can achieve it by keeping customer retention a priority in their festive marketing plans.
It is particularly true when the visitors coming to your store or website during the festive season are a healthy mix of returning and new customers. Remember to be considerate of both when you build your plans.
Work smarter, not harder
While you might be keen on mirroring your competitors’ strategies, no marketing efforts are built equal. The key to a successful festive season market campaign lies in knowing your business and your customers. It goes beyond your content and digital preparations. Be sure everyone in your company, from customer service to shipping to the fulfilment team, is equipped to handle the extra orders and visitors.
Last-minute planning is probably one of the most common mistakes brands make during the festive season. Get those campaign ideas rolling while also being prepared for quick reactions if things don’t go as planned.
The Indian festive season can make or break revenue goals for almost every B2C and S2C brand. And changes in customer expectations paired with a constant stream of new competitors will make it harder for them to succeed. However, there are steps you can take in advance that will help you position yourself above others during the festivals and earn customer loyalty.
By considering your customers while planning your festive campaigns, you can establish the lifetime value of your brand in their minds. This way, the festive season won’t be the most rushed time of the year but also be the most remunerative.
(The author is the founder of Hashtag Orange)