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Satyaki Ghosh is CEO, Domestic Textiles (Grasim Industries) Aditya Birla Group.
Religious and cultural festivals are woven into the fabric of our country. They’re filled with celebration, devotion, cultural dressing, food, and music. People look forward to celebrating them together with family and loved ones especially now after two muted years gone due to Covid. For marketers, festivals are a unique opportunity to connect with existing and potential customers. An effective marketing strategy to targeted demographics during festivals enhances the brand image, builds an emotional connect with the consumer and increases sales. A festival marketing plan should reflect the spirit of the celebration. A brand must demonstrate how it embodies the essence of the festivities, whether linked to music, changing seasons, or other aspects.
Diwali is a festival of lights. The theme of Holi is colour. The themes of Baisakhi, Onam, and Pongal are harvests. Every festival in India signifies something and extends an opportunity to brands to diversify their offerings to connect with its target audience.
Festival marketing strategies have seen an evolution over the years from the unique themes and innovation that unites the brand with the culture. An apparel manufacturer might encourage giving gifts to your loved ones during Pongal or Onam, for instance. Or a paint manufacturer could introduce a line of vibrant hues for Holi.
Over the past few years, companies have been launching cultural festivals as a brand property. Some examples are music, arts, and theatre festivals. Here too, a link to the brand’s DNA is explored, for instance, a brand of spices can launch an annual food festival.
Local Marketing
Many festivals are celebrated in the streets, parks, and neighbourhoods and we see local communities and associations pitching in to make it a success. Earlier festival marketing plans included tying up with local groups for an effective on-ground presence. But now companies sponsor them and put up logos and promotional material at festive events. This helps promote their brand name in advertisements and digital content to achieve the desired traction. Photographs of the celebrations are also used for further awareness on digital platforms.
Using contests and promotions
Brand have been actively leveraging festivals to launch contests and promotions designed around the theme of the festival. For many consumers, festivals are a time to shop. Festivals like Onam in Kerela tend to be a barometer of consumer sentiments and spends encouraging brands set the stage for frenzied bouts of promotional activities. A 2021 survey showed that 94% of respondents were excited to shop during the festive season, compared to 80% last year. The categories included apparel, mobile phones, home appliances, and electronics. In 2022, a festive marketing strategy propels the sales growth as the surge in spending helps businesses meet their estimated revenue targets. These promotions can be online or offline, depending on the target audience, and could be on the lines of fixed-time deals, festive discounts, combos, and gifts. 
Leverage online activities
In the recent past, the usage of social media and the internet has altered both consumer behaviour and how businesses operate. Organizations have a lot of options now thanks to social and digital marketing activities being more cost effective that garner better brand recognition, and attract higher sales. Online marketing initiatives are prioritised in festive marketing plans. Through keyword optimization and targeted digital ads, content that connects festivals to brands is leveraged. The finest ways to celebrate festivals are suggested to customers, including how to decorate their homes, how to dress, where to dine, what to gift your family and friends etc. are highlighted in detail. 
Digital marketing has revolutionized festive marketing, this is a medium where brand’s convey their festive spirit with images and videos through social media posts which includes unique and trending hashtags. Companies also redesign their website during the festival period to reflect the colors and icons of the festival.
Region-focused marketing
In a country as diverse as India, it is important to understand that one size will not fit all. Focused regional marketing especially during important local festivals help brands create a connect with the specific demographic. Successful campaigns are those which create tasteful, aesthetic and authentic regional campaigns. It is important to complement the campaign with an appropriate media plan to ensure the right amplification and outreach.
Conclusion
For brands, festivals are a superb opportunity to create experiences that consumers love. These could be age-old cultural festivals that are given a fresh twist with a fresh new campaign created by the brand. Festive marketing strategies have evolved over the years where brands now prefer to maintain consumer’s sentiments first. Through events, promotions, and other activities, the brand has reminded consumers of its role in their lives leading to greater awareness, recall engagement, and loyalty.
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Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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