By Harsh Vardhan
Thanks to its multi-culture, multi-religion demography, India is often referred to as the country of festivals and if there’s one thing that’s synonymous to festivities, it’s shopping. Brands have been making the most of India’s aspirational nature since forever, but e-commerce giants have created festivals of their own. Flipkart’s Big Billion Day, which made its debut in 2014, is one of those events that create quite a stir — not just in terms of business, but also marketing and at a time when the world is still reeling under the stress of the pandemic, brands are seeing this as an opportunity to partner with each other and tide over the crisis.
Brand strategist Ambi Parameswaran says, “E-commerce brands have perfected this formula for their big sale days. I think the partnership works for both the retailer and the top brands. Special products are created for the Big Billion Sale Days at special rates. One example that springs to mind is Vivek & Co and their New Year Sale. This started in Chennai and is now a pan-Indian phenomenon. The idea was that end-December or early-January is a poor sales period for consumer durables. Vivek went to all the major brands and asked them to give a super discount, also partner in the media spends (full page ads in leading dailies), sales persons support etc. for almost a guaranteed sales volume…the trend caught on in a big way.”
The large user-base of e-commerce companies and their cash-rich marketing exploits help some comparatively smaller brands not just take their products to a larger audience, but also help ecommerce majors get better consumer insights that help them push business.
“Flipkart’s partnership helps create a win-win for brands. This year’s Big Billion Days is also partnering with artisans from across the country as part of the Samarth initiative. The new and wider selections are expected to create consumer delight, and the partnerships will be instrumental in helping the brands penetrate more markets and reach millions of new customers, not only from metros but also from emerging towns across tier 2, 3 and 4,” says Nandita Sinha, vice president – events, engagement & merchandising at Flipkart.
Recently, ZEE partnered with other brands such as Pepsi, Mondelez to promote a new set of shows aired on the network. With the pandemic throwing most off gear, partnerships have emerged as one of the main themes of marketing business this year.
As part of the alliance, Café Coffee Day has created a signature beverage – The Big Billion Frappe, exclusively curated for Flipkart customers at value pricing. The national cafe chain’s chief executive, Vinay A Bhopatkar, says “This partnership is aligned to our idea of collaborations that will deliver value to our customers.”
However, the increased dependency on online existence exposes brands to the risk of permanently damaging offline business.
Parameswaran adds, “Big brands have a challenge ahead. They need to ensure that the Big Billion Sale helps them garner new customers without losing on every sale. And more importantly they have to ensure that ecommerce is not going to permanently damage the offline sales efforts. This year it is even more critical not to hurt your offline retailers who have had to suffer through a lot.”
Demand environment, too, has seen a major downturn as consumers cut discretionary spends in the past few months, but green shoots are in sight and brands say this is the right time to tap in on the pent-up demand.
The beauty industry is also feeling the festive spirit. Vaidehi Vimadalal, general manager, marketing, Maybelline New York, says, “One of the core tenets of the collaboration is the accessibility to a pan-India market during the festive season. The partnership will be instrumental in acquiring a new set of customers and penetrating the hinterlands, thereby expanding our base in Tier 2 markets and beyond. Together, we have been able to identify not just key value cohorts to drive business but also identify the right platforms for devising a robust marketing strategy. The partnership has been pivotal in identifying the best product combinations along with the geographical pain points.”