The festival period that started from early last month has more or less come to an end for a majority of Indians. Starting with Durga Puja, Dussehra and ending with Diwali, the period that lasted more than a month, was a gala time for consumers and also for businesses both offline and online. While the common man explored ways to celebrate happiness during the festive season, businesses tried their best connecting online and offline with lucrative deals and new products.
Ecommerce industry, still very much the poster boy of the Indian startup eco-system, likely to cross the $100-billion mark over the next five years, expected a smoother online festival sales. Things went well for Amazon, the world’s largest consumer marketplace during this festive season in India. According to a company release, business has quadrupled in 2015 over the previous year as customers and sellers have risen more than threefold.
“The number of sellers have grown more than 250 percent year-over-year. Sales are 4x what they were last year.” Besides the company has been adding products at a rate of 40,000 per day this year with 90 percent of sellers using its logistics and warehousing services.
The returns are also related to the massive investments that Amazon made prior to the festive season. The company injected Rs 1,237 crore into Amazon Seller Services Pvt, the biggest infusion of capital into its Indian flagship since entering the country in 2013.
The marketing budgets this year has gone up for the company as well. To begin with Amazon celebrated the festival sale from October 13th-17th under the name #AmazonFestiveSale. The brand launched a set of promotional videos that picks the thread from its last campaign #TryTohKar. The video shows happy Indian faces that are getting interesting deals from the sale while shopping from their smartphone. In fact the voiceover says to download the app and start shopping.
Apart from sharing the videos and creating buzz about the sale on social media, the brand also shared video responses of lucky winners who won a kilo of gold during the festival sale. The brand posted quite a series of videos on Facebook.
“Video is a good consumption and engaging medium. With this medium you also get to see the customers more than just visuals. With all these user generated videos it just makes our community very lively. Along with this even the consumption of brand videos has gone up due to the growth of multiple connected devices, video centric platforms and engaging content,” informed Kishore Thota, Head Digital Marketing, Amazon India while sharing the brand’s aggressive focus on videos.
Post #AmazonFestiveSale, the eCommerce giant brought on the Diwali sale from October 26 to 28. The brand again launched a set of ads that showcased the joy of Diwali celebrations with the brand asking people to celebrate this Diwali on Amazon and shop via their smartphone.
In addition to creating buzz for the Diwali sale, the brand made sure to share exciting deals coming during the sale via really cool videos. Instagram was also integrated at this point of time when the brand asked fans to showcase their DIY ideas, share on the app and get lucky with Amazon vouchers.
With Diwali getting closer, Amazon ran another interesting campaign for its fans who were not able to go home for the festival. “Armed with a gift box, we knocked on many doors and were graciously welcomed. Here’s a look at how, in our own little way, we spread the Diwali cheers!” wrote the brand on its Facebook post which had pictures of happy fans with big gift boxes.
Here is another video for this initiative:
Along with the focus on social media, Amazon India also stressed on making commerce happen over app. Kishore informed that customers are naturally choosing the app for shopping. “Based on this trend we increased the cash back percentage on the app, and we had a treasure hunt contest which was created for our mobile customers.”
Flipkart, India’s biggest eCommerce company had a PR nightmare while executing the #BigBillionDay sale last year. This year the company began preparing six months prior to this year’s edition and as a result it saw a business turnover crossing $300 million in gross merchandise volume.
Sticking to its app only approach, Flipkart this year went for a big five-day sale from 13-17 October. While the company saw a surge in its sales at the same time the sale helped Flipkart drive as many as five million app downloads, Flipkart chief product officer Punit Soni said to Live Mint.
Flipkart #BigBillionDay sale
To build buzz for the sale, Flipkart began by launching an ad film that focused on the idea - Big Billion Days are back. The campaign revolved around the theme ‘Abhi Nahin Toh Kabhi Nahin’ (Now or never) and had been conceptualized by Chapter Five.
The film featured various instances where people are denied what they seek with a ‘Abhi nahin‘ (not now) message. When a school boy singing in a group wants to visit the toilet, his teacher denies him. A man wanting to watch TV is denied the remote by the lady in control of it. A couple of commuters in a hurry to get to the station are denied by a taxi driver, among others. The film ends introducing that the ‘now or never’ Flipkart ‘Big Billion Days are back.
From promoting the ads, the big sale the brand initiated #GiftOutOfTheBox campaign which asked fans to get rid of old conventions of gifting and gift their loved ones something that’s unexpected and yet - perfect! In short whatever you do, do it with Flipkart.
This year Flipkart added a bit of personalization to the sale when the founders and other big guys in the firm turned into delivery boys and surprised their customers. The founders decided to personally deliver goods in Bengaluru in order to gain insights about customer experience by the ecommerce giant.
“We want to learn more about the market, customers and understand what the need is for the future — also to thank them. Over the next 15-20 days, everyone will go out and deliver to customers, starting with some of the leaders,” said Binny Bansal, cofounder of Flipkart.
This year the sale was a success and Flipkart again went a step ahead with two front page ads on Times of India, to thank consumers for their trust during the Big Billion Days Sale. Along with the ad, Flipkart also uploaded a video on YouTube titled ‘A journey we shared with you, a success we truly owe to you.’
Snapdeal, another worth competitor in the Indian eCommerce market, also had festive sale over several weeks by offering single-day sale events. It continued its festive sales every Monday till Diwali in a bid to grow business by seven times sequentially this season over the preceding period.
Snapdeal said it generated roughly $100 million in GMV during its Electronics Monday sale, which offered discounts on smartphones, laptops, other electronics and home appliances. It also saw over 17x increase in volume, with over 350% increase in first-time buyers. The app was downloaded about 5 million times during the sale period.
On the marketing side, Snapdeal brought ambassador Amir Khan back featuring in a TVC for the festive season conceptualised by FCB Ulka, themed #DiwaliDilKiDealWali. The TV campaign adopted a ‘sale-o-shayari’ theme, and the first film supported the brand’s ‘Preview Monday Sale’ that was held on 28th September.
The film begins with Bollywood actor Aamir Khan engaging in some shayari. He is seen wearing an ill-fitting shirt, that barely contains his evidently growing bulk. His audience of four men are seated on the ground enjoying the recitation. The Hindi poetry plays on the idea that it isn’t that Khan has put on weight, but rather the clothes’ mischief that they’re shrinking on their own.
A voiceover says whether it’s ‘mischievous clothes’ or some other wish, there’s the ‘Preview Monday Sale’ with attendant discounts displayed on screen. The film ends with Khan signing off with the campaign tagline, ‘Snapdeal. Yeh Diwali, dil ki deal wali’.
Every Monday had a theme for the sales from electronics to fashion. The brand tied up all these Mondays with a video ad. Finally the campaign ended with an ultimate Monday ad on 2nd November, along with a set of ads of the same theme of Hindi poetry featuring Aamir.
The campaign delivers some quirky and engaging content in the form of ‘shayari’. It showcased a range of exciting offers across all categories, available only on Snapdeal.
On digital the brand focused on promoting the films and creating buzz about the items that were up for sale. For instance the brand posted a video on Facebook that showcased how Snapdeal Fashion sale has everything for girls to look best at work or in the evening.
Finally, like Flipkart, Snapdeal brought the personal touch to this year’s sale by sharing a video conversation with one of its most beloved customers.
This year we saw the eCommerce giants investing a larger share of their budgets on digital but traditional marketing and TV holds the bigger pie. While their exact expenditure on newspapers is not known, what is clear is that the sector will spend Rs 3,500 crore on advertising in 2015, according to estimates by the WPP-owned media agency GroupM, constituting 7% of the Rs 50,000-crore total advertising expenditure.
Overall between January and June, advertising expenditure on television increased by close to 21% (as opposed to the original forecast of 10% growth), led by categories such as e-commerce, packaged consumer goods, consumer durables, and banking and financial services, and insurance.
For now while there is no clear winner on who won this year’s sale but at least in the marketing arena, Print and TV are clearly leading by miles. Nonetheless, there is extensive use of Facebook videos by Amazon and to add the personalization dose on digital by Flipkart; Snapdeal also keeps faith on the medium.
Both Flipkart and Snapdeal ignored our requests to speak for this story, but Kishore shared that while all the pies in digital are growing, push notifications is something massive. “Notifications is bigger since the base of mobile is increasing which is a noticeable factor during this year’s festival season.”