A unique aspect of Indian customer behaviour is the abject suspension of reality during the festive season. In the past, this was largely connected to indulgences linked to purchasing power but now is surely attached to health as well, Covid being the obvious context.
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In the recently concluded Durga Puja, restaurants serving revellers broke all records, including those out of West Bengal and indeed 'Chaurangi' in London, Anjan Chatterjee's newest. The malls followed suit as did the ritualistic visit to pandals, stretching statutory limitations to the fullest. All of this in the wake of the imminent Third Wave, which is currently behaving like the Loch Ness Monster, a yet invisible but already formidable legend. There is every reason to believe that Diwali will emulate this pattern, with the entire nation performing every form of revenge celebrations, ranging from shopping to partying. Frenetic warnings will populate the media waves but they will be mostly be treated as avoidable noise, an avoidable irritation.
It is necessary to note that this conduct is truthfully an extension of our religious leanings, where spiritual powers are expected to be more powerful than the scientific evidence. Even the finest infusion of education is often unable to reverse this equation, as we tend to seek comfort in our nurtured equations with the divinity. So the festival actually becomes a celestial licence for dedicated observance, whether the abstinence in rituals or the excesses in revelry. Surely, the Gods can never misguide us, whatever be the demonic perils of a mysterious Chinese infiltrator. So we dismiss every warning and take to streets, in the Durga Puja the youth were noteworthy for being hostile to masks, as they would possibly interfere with both make up and moustache. This arrogance towards earthly tenure is most prevalent during these heavenly interludes and there can be a heavy price to pay, as proven by the hi-res virus.
However, this is a marketing and not a moralistic or wellness article, so I must focus on the imminent opportunities. The challenge to be addressed by businesses is the art of maximising revenues during this prolific period. Now, the usual suspects know this game very well and obviously restaurants, apparel, white goods, select jewellery, real estate and even automobiles are masters of suitable exploitation, in the short term for sure. Yet the consumer mindset is engineered towards emotional investments and thus there is a large opportunity for many an attractive category to win big, skewing their revenue curves accordingly. As long as they are able to play on the fundamental customer insight of divine indulgence dictating every meaningful move.
A hilarious and possibly absurd starting point is the world of cryptocurrencies, bitcoins being the rage among speculators of every hue. It makes perfect sense for companies in this lucrative space to run a festive marketing programme, tapping the less-judgemental mindpaces to write exceptional cheques. This mindset can well extend to IVF centres, goading the societally reluctant ladies to take a familial plunge and enrolling with blessings of the Gods. As is true for the matrimonial agencies, which can curate an initial encounter under the auspices of the Goddess, in a Puja pandal or an auspicious Haridwar location.
When extended logically, the Edtech business can benefit as well- Byju's, Lido and their many peers can use this timing as a tipping point, as a blessed opportunity. While the jewellery industry makes capital out of Dhanteras, this is just the beginning of a far larger scenario, as Durga Puja or a Diwali range of gold goodness can sway customer sentiments of entire families, across price points. It is also not incredulous to imagine that those in the business of Golden Visas or permanent immigration can take suitable advantage, as it is indeed a life-changing initiative.
The largest point I wish to make today is that festive periods lead to a temporary but potent unification of the grossly irrational and the patently measurable. We become strangely vulnerable and uncharacteristically opportunistic, believing that a divine alliance will assist the fruition of ambitions. Thus we act in a manner that is unbecoming of routine prudence and instead, bestow on ourselves wings that we may not dearly deserve. But then, this is an opportunity that many more businesses can cleverly convert, to compensate for the limitless spells of inaction that recent months have unhappily conjured.
Enough already said and now a lot remains to be done. The headline of this piece is borrowed unabashedly from a series of Kishore Kumar movies and there is a deeper connection therein. As the genius singer and actor was renowned for merging prodigious merit with illogical eccentricities, and this is a disruptive inspiration for festive marketers.
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