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E-commerce players to go slow on advertising this festive season

Dashing the hopes of already-stressed media platforms such as print and TV, the e-commerce companies that usually drive advertising during the festive season have decided to go slow this year. The companies are likely to spend majorly on digital, that too only focusing on direct ROI

This year, India’s already embattled print media may not see as many jacket and full page ads from e-commerce players during the festive season as the companies are holding back their media spends and are likely to advertise more on the conversion-led platforms such as digital.

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The e-commerce companies are now becoming much more ROI-driven in marketing and are past the brand-building stage where they were splurging on print.

Prashant Verma

Prashant Verma, Head, Marketing, Grofers, said, “Due to the natural demand and shift towards the online grocery, ROI on our media spends has improved 4x with digital taking a central role. Keeping this in mind, we have budgeted for moderate media spends this year as we are able to get more with less. This will continue for our festive promotions as well, as ours is already a discount platform and ‘everyday low prices’ form a key part of our brand strategy.”

Taranjeet Singh

Taranjeet Singh, Managing Director, SEA and India, Criteo, said the shopping festivals in the new normal have taken a 360-degree turn as the pandemic transformed businesses forever.

However, he cautioned, “Marketers today are taking a more online-inclined approach. Branding works best in the long term. Cutting budget spends too much when not necessary could negatively impact the brand when the pandemic is over. Marketers should not forget that in the midst of a crisis, there could be opportunity.”

This year will see acceleration in e-commerce growth, with the rise of safer store shopping options, and increased comfort levels with online-meets-offline purchasing practices such as BOPIS (buy online and pickup in store).

Taken together, this sales season has the potential to be a key period for businesses to resonate with more audiences in more ways.

More focus on omni-channels as platforms expect far greater sales this year

Singh said marketing trends in the next few months may witness an even bigger focus on experience-driven ecommerce. This is because the competition might become cut-throat as consumers turn their attention online.

Today’s at-home lifestyles mean adults are buying stuff in the backyard on their smartphones, kids are adding to shopping carts on tablets, and everyone is scrolling handheld devices in front of the TV on a regular basis. Ahead of the Big Billion Days sale, shoppers may hop across different devices prior to completing a purchase.

The Nykaa spokesperson believes that the Indian consumer is keen to get to the other side of this pandemic.

Consumer spirit is resilient this year and the fashion and beauty e-com platform expects to grow 50% for beauty on an omni-channel basis.

“The second half of this year, which is festive, is traditionally peak season for the beauty industry, and we will see our business grow as supply chains normalise. Both fashion and beauty e-commerce are currently running at 150-160% of pre-pandemic numbers, and for fashion alone, we will see 6-7x growth compared to the last festive season,” he added.

To cheer up the festive spirit, Nykaa will launch #UnlockColour for its consumers.

Kick-starting #UnlockColour with Navratri, Nykaa will guide customers on bringing back vibrancy and enthusiasm in their lives.

Grofers, too, has witnessed high demand that has stabilised at 40% higher than pre-Covid levels. Additionally, there has also been a 30% increase in basket size as compared to the pre-Covid era for a compounding effect on growth.

With people continuing to stay at home, the platform expects a boost in sales during the festive season.

With several consumption events starting in the last week of September and continuing through the second week of November, it plans to deliver its brand promise of savings on groceries, gifting items like dry fruits and chocolates, personal care, and home care for the festive season.

According to Criteo’s report, e-commerce traffic increases by 19% followed by sharp rise in sales (+27%) during seasonal sales such as the Big Billion Days.

The Covid-19 economic tailspin hit the global economy in the first half of this year.

To combat the situation, Singh said that retailers, including e-commerce players, should gear up in advance to deploy an omni-channel marketing strategy and ensure consumers get both the online and offline experiences they desire.

For Flipkart, the marketing approach has inclined towards rebuilding the confidence of consumers, field executives and sellers. The brand has reportedly on-boarded sellers from across the country and is giving them technical hand-holding as they scale up their business. 

It is strengthening its physical and digital infrastructure to gear up for the upcoming festive season. Its Big Billion Days sale will be held from October 16 to October 21 and just after a day later, Amazon, too, will begin with The Great Indian Festive Season sale from October 17, which will go on for a month.

Flipkart’s BBD digital campaign:

While offering price-cut on a slew of products and devices across the categories, Flipkart has partnered with Paytm to provide customers offers and benefits as they prepare their wish lists for this festive season.

Amazon’s GIFS digital campaign:

Manish Tiwary, Vice-President, Amazon India, believes this year’s festive season will really be special for the e-comm player as sellers have eagerly been waiting for this time as it will give them a chance to get back on their feet and to multiply their sales. He said the frequency of buying has already increased amid the pandemic.

Ahead of ‘Big Fashion Festival’ scheduled to be held between October 16 and 22, Myntra has collaborated with Max Fashion to see over 15,000 of its latest styles.

To specifically target East market, it has released the season’s first festive campaign, ‘Festive Style Expert’. This Durga Pujo campaign featuring brother-sister duo Saif and Soha Ali Khan is set to run till from October 22 through a diversified media mix, which includes digital and social media channels, as well as running ads on TV ahead of the festive season.

The ad film:

Focus on brick and mortars, vernacular markets and smaller sellers:

Nykaa is confident to see revenues reach pre-Covid numbers by December.

This is because apart from the online stores, it plans to implement best-in-class hygiene and service standards in its physical stores.

Singh feels it is undeniable that the growth of online shopping is far outpacing the sales at brick-and-mortar stores. But that doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar stores aren’t still incredibly valuable assets for ecommerce brands.

“Instead of functioning as a real-life version of their online stores, brick-and-mortar locations seem to be switching towards offering unique shopping experiences. Therefore, in the foreseeable future, marketers must focus on what customers need in terms of messages that acknowledge their new reality,” he suggested.

Apart from this, there is no denying the fact that small, regional cities are pulling a greater demand for these e-com players, especially as the first-time users.

Verma said Grofers witnessed an increase of 54% in orders in smaller cities such as Indore, Agra, Panipat, etc. 

Since the lockdown, it has acquired 18 lakh new customers and as more people are gradually moving from offline shopping to online. It is seeing 64% first-time online grocery shoppers and 20% first-time online shoppers.

Myntra, too, is targeting the sweet spot for value-conscious customers across tier one, two and three cities to strengthen its position as a leading fashion destination.

Flipkart, to ensure that first-time users are at ease while shopping on the platform, has launched a search and voice assistant, and regional-language interfaces while introducing Tamil, Kannada and Telugu interfaces on its platform. 

And ahead of the GIFS, Amazon has enabled customers to shop in Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam, besides Hindi and English. It is enabling 6.5 lakh+ sellers to offer crores of products and customers can shop from over four crore products from small and medium businesses (SMBs) and products from over 20,000 local shops across 100 cities.


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