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In-depth: FMCG booster dose for India’s adex; sectoral ad spend to be 15% more than pre-Covid level

As consumer sentiment improves, the revival of India’s adex, especially of the print industry, is on the cards. Big event properties such as the T20 World Cup and the festive season will provide a big impetus

India's adex is all set to get a boost after a lull of over 18 months. FMCG companies, one of the largest advertising segments in the country, are likely to increase their ad spends by 15% this festive season. The overall adex is likely to surpass the pre-Covid levels by a solid double-digit percentage.

The players, unlike last year, are upbeat about the festivities and hopeful that it might surpass the pre-Covid adex level as they revive their marketing investments.

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The sector will also get back to print to get maximum visibility. Packaged food, beauty care and hygiene brands are likely to bet more on e-commerce and OTT platforms.

Krishnarao Buddha

Krishnarao Buddha, Senior Category Head, Parle Products, said the consumer sentiments are relatively better compared to last year. Considering the condition last June-July, the market is doing great. Markets such as Kerala, which were severely affected, are doing better this year as observed during Onam.  

“In totality, the consumers, retailers are quite upbeat about the festive season. We don’t really advertise gifting products in particular unlike some key players but we’ll have some presence on digital for sure. For the overall festive season, we will have more expenses compared to the previous quarter and we will go a little deeper in respect to spends.  If I have Rs 100 for this year (as the total ad spends) and I spent Rs 25 in the first quarter, in the second quarter it will be upwards of Rs 30-35,” he said.

Rajiv Dubey

After the second wave, Rajiv Dubey, Senior General Manager and Head of Media, Dabur, said consumer sentiments were back to being positive and that’s how it’s likely to be in the second quarter as well. The market and overall economic sentiments also look pretty good.

“Our sales are more or less very evenly distributed across all the quarters. However, some brands do have festive combos attached to it. For instance, Real Juice gift packs and we really hope it takes off well this year because last year there was hardly any sales. Adex is likely to increase since it is the festive season and everyone will increase their spending. Secondly, the remaining part of the IPL is going to happen in September and the T20 World Cup in October, which will give a boost to the advertising sector. The way advertising has been doing, we can see that we will reach the pre-Covid levels or probably surpass them,” he added. 

Amrinder Singh

The markets are opening up now after so much uncertainty and business losses during the pandemic. So, there is an extreme need for brands to uplift their advertising spends now, said Amrinder Singh, Director, Bonn Group of Industries. He expects the festive season to be good for the overall bakery industry and adex to be better as compared to last year.

Rahul Gandhi

Though we are still in the middle of the pandemic, Rahul Gandhi, CMO, iD Fresh Food, said consumer sentiments have been constantly changing over the last two years keeping in track with fast-changing realities. 

The demand for ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat food has been growing ever since the pandemic first hit. People’s need for healthy, hygienic and preservative-free foods have continued to be their top priority. With this, the brand has seen a consistent increase in demand for all its products and an increase in marketing investments too. 

Also, while people will shop more during the next few months, there will be a much greater demand for products in the hygiene segment as well. Hygiene is no longer an optional or occasional need, and people are going to remain cautious even while celebrating festivals across India.

And with people coming back to travel, Vikas Bagaria, Founder, Pee Safe, said this will lead to a spike in the demand for products such as toilet seat sanitiser sprays, hand sanitisers, etc.

“Our adex has grown in proportion to the growth in our sales and market footprint and we will continue investing in advertising. There is likely to be an increase this year during the festive season,” he said.

Beauty as a category has always done well during the festive season. This is the season when people not only buy skin care and hair care products for themselves, but also for gifting.

Manish Chowdhary

Manish Chowdhary, Co-Founder, Wow Skin Science, said the pandemic has led to an improved acceptance of clean and sustainable beauty products. He expects a significant boost in advertising budgets this year during the festive season in order to increase awareness about products and new launches. 

However, he said while there will be a boost in advertising spend by beauty and wellness brands, it may not reach pre-Covid levels since the companies are still trying to balance their losses from last year and early this year.

Increased spends in print, TV, digital continues to be the first choice

Over the last year, there has been a perceptible decline in the mainline media spends on print and outdoor, which otherwise used to have high importance for FMCG players. However, unconventional opportunities in terms of e-commerce and OTT platforms gained extreme prominence last year, and will continue to have so this festive season as well.

Dubey said for its brands such as Real Juice, which has a higher demand during festive season, it will bet on print advertising for the north market. In this quarter, as its other regional brands such as Chyawanprash also kick off, their spend will go up and will go for print, television and digital. He advised other brands in the FMCG sector to invest in newspapers to get maximum bang out of the buck. 

Buddha too agreed that regular advertisers are bound to come back to print and other traditional mediums.

“There is definitely tremendous pressure on print but there are a certain set of advertisers who really find print to be indispensable and it is an apt medium. Big Saving Days saw a certain set of advertisers coming back to print and they did full-page ads with full enthusiasm. It’s a clear indication that advertisers are definitely looking back to print and there will also be a certain set of advertisers who’ll be focused on television. But I think it will be difficult for the ad spends to reach the pre-Covid levels during the festive season,” he added.

In terms of FMCG growth, he said the second quarter is going to be great. For gifting particularly, he expects a rise of about 40% over last year, and will definitely surpass the pre-Covid levels (15% higher than the pre-Covid level).

For Wow Skin Science Care, marketing spend in the digital space will continue to top among all the mediums. TV and print will continue to be second and third, respectively.

As a market category, reports show the beauty and personal care segment will grow at a CAGR of over 8% this year over last year and Chowdhary expects an impressive growth rate this festive season.

For the hygiene category, Bagaria said there will definitely be a lot of market expansion and increase in demand across all product categories during the festive season due to holidays and a lot of travel, celebration and get-together opportunities. The brand will continue to build its marketing strategy primarily around the digital channels.

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