In India, where traditions run deep, the spirit of festivities remains undimmed by the pandemic. From Dussehra to Diwali, Holi to Bakrid, people look forward to marking these cherished festive occasions, even if the celebrations are now quieter affairs. In this mood of cautious optimism, brands need to rethink their festive marketing to connect with people whose buying behavior and thinking have changed since COVID-19.
The latest consumer insights show that more Indians are now shopping with a purpose, favoring brands whose values align with theirs. They’re also keen to support local businesses. Brands that integrate these fresh consumer insights in their festive campaigns are one step closer to building a long-lasting relationship with people eager to have a meaningful connection with them.
But how can brands strike a balance in their festive advertising between upholding tradition and reflecting present-day changes? We look at how three leading consumer brands, Duroflex, Amazon India, and Grofers, used creative storytelling in their festive campaigns to make a lasting impression on consumers and drive business results.
Stay true to traditions with meaningful storytelling
Festive marketing is traditionally characterized by cheerful and celebratory vibes, but the pandemic has threatened to turn that narrative on its head. Brands, however, can still help people celebrate cherished traditions by moving away from generic celebratory messages to more personally meaningful stories.
Leading mattress brand Duroflex made an uplifting story the heart of its 2020 Diwali campaign "Gift of Good Sleep." In the ad, Duroflex showed how the Diwali tradition of gifting can be observed sensitively and appropriately during a pandemic.
The brand observed that during the pandemic lockdown and restrictions, more Indian urban millennials were moving back with their parents to work from home. At the same time, it noticed a growing concern among Indians about their well-being and that they were making more conscious buying decisions.1
Armed with these insights, Duroflex and its agency partner Sunny Side Up crafted a campaign story around an elderly couple who, in the midst of Diwali preparations, were concerned that their son was busy working from home even during the festivities. So they gifted their son what he needed most — a good night’s sleep. They bought him a Duroflex mattress.
“This was an opportunity to flip the typical festive behavior on its head. Fundamentally, the larger insight we worked with was, ‘This Diwali, don’t just change to something new, change to something good’.”
The brand storytelling hit all the right notes. Duroflex grew its Doctor Recommended mattress portfolio by 2X, surpassing its original business objective. Organic brand search volume also increased by 3X, and conversion rates saw a 53% spike.
The impact of Duroflex’s "Gift of Good Sleep" campaign
Tell authentic stories about real people
Amid the uncertainty of a pandemic, genuine stories about how people are bouncing back from COVID-19 have a powerful impact on lifting people’s spirits. Brands can lead the way in telling such stories with inspiring and memorable festive campaigns.
Amazon India’s campaign "Tyohaar Ke Liye Taiyaar," or "Be Ready for Festivities," which promoted local sellers on its platform, struck a chord with India’s holiday shoppers, half of whom say they will shop with businesses that share their values.2 Indeed, 70% of Indians are eager to support local businesses at a time like this, even if it costs a little more for them to do so.3
The campaign’s YouTube video, developed in partnership with Ogilvy India, featured the people behind local brands who play an important role in India’s festive season preparations. Among those in the spotlight were the owners and employees of companies such as Shivkripa Blue Art Pottery, healthy snack start-up Open Secret, and Xech Innovative Electronics, a business that specializes in innovative lifestyle gadgets.
“We wanted to celebrate and salute the entrepreneurial spirit of each and every seller who plays a pivotal role in crafting and curating the millions of boxes of festive cheer that get delivered to every Indian household.”
The inspiring festive campaign made a real difference for local sellers during Amazon India’s Great Indian Festival. Over 110,000 sellers received an order request from Amazon and of these orders, 66% came from nonmetropolitan areas like Yadgir in Karnataka, Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu, and Lakhisarai in Bihar. For more than 32% of the sellers, this campaign also marked a record-breaking day of sales for them on Amazon.in.
Amazon India’s "Tyohaar Ke Liye Taiyaar" campaign gave local businesses a festive boost
Do something good for your community while building your brand
Brands can also use the festive season to communicate goodwill through their actions. Trends show that search interest for “charity” rose 65% year-over-year in June 2021, right before the festive season. But while people are eager to help, they may not know how to do so meaningfully.
When planning its Diwali campaign last year, online Indian grocery platform Grofers found that 73% of people looked forward to buying gifts and other Diwali essentials like diyas, candles, and lamps online.4 This meant, however, that local potters and shops which families used to purchase these items from pre-COVID-19, would suffer because of this change in consumer behavior. So Grofers decided to celebrate the spirit of Diwali by promoting local artisans through its not-for-profit campaign "Ek Diye Se Do Ghar Roshan" or "One Lamp Lights Up Two Homes."
For the campaign, the brand created a special online store where people could shop for diyas and other Diwali essentials from local shops and get them delivered for free by Grofers. All sales proceeds went to the local potters and shops. In addition, its campaign video featured skilled potters and local brands, showcasing the artisans and shop owners at work, and also offering a moving glimpse of their families.
“The minute you consume any content, you ask yourself subconsciously if you can feel that emotion. Only when you feel that emotion will you continue watching. With 'Ek Diye Se Do Ghar Roshan,' Grofers was able to create intrigue by targeting people’s desire to help.”
Turning its Diwali campaign into a not-for-profit initiative helped Grofers generate massive reach. Around 2 million households saw the video, which had a view-through rate of 45% and a substantial click-through rate of around 1%. But the biggest impact of the festive campaign was that it helped around 10,000 local potters pull through a difficult time.
Festive celebrations today won’t be like what they were before COVID-19. But brands still have the opportunity to connect with people through meaningful festive advertising. Tell authentic stories. Show how you can be a force for good while being true to your brand. Above all, lean on consumer insights to create a festive campaign that people will remember for the positive impact it makes on their lives.