Culture-first marketing: the key to driving successful festive campaigns | The Financial Express

Culture-first marketing: the key to driving successful festive campaigns

While traditional wisdom is that festive purchases are planned months in advance, one of four in Bharat are actually last-minute shoppers.

Bharat’s festive sentiment is stronger than ever. 1 in 2 in Bharat plan to spend higher than they did last year.
Bharat’s festive sentiment is stronger than ever. One of two in Bharat plan to spend higher than they did last year.

By Udit Sharma

India’s diversity is unlike any in the world. And this diversity becomes even more evident during festivals. If Ramleela captivates audiences in the North during Navratri, the magic of Garba takes hold in Gujarat. In the east, it is the pomp and pageantry of Durga Puja. Whereas in the south,  Navratri celebrations take on a vibrant and artistic expression with Bathukamma and Golu dolls. 

Expression and celebration form the backbone of any festival. While native languages are key to expression, shopping and gifting almost become synonymous with celebration. This is the time when Bharat (social media users who prefer Indic languages as their main language for using social media) comes together in celebration and camaraderie, reflecting the continuity and likeliness of respective cultures across languages and seasons. Standing on the cusp of 2022’s festive season, Bharat is all set to passionately celebrate the festivities this year.  

It’s a time of great joy not just for people but also for brands. Bharat’s festive sentiment is stronger than ever. One of two in Bharat plans to spend higher than they did last year. However, unless a brand’s marketing campaigns resonate with customers, particularly language-first users, they won’t make much of an impact.  

Weaving memorable experiences by thinking ‘culture-first’ 

Bharat doesn’t rush through festivities, instead savours each moment and participates in most activities. Festivals are also the time for upholding ceremonial rituals. For instance, Bharat fasts religiously during Navratri, which includes only eating sattvic food. And Durga Puja is a  cumulation of several rituals like Bodhon, Nabapatrika Snan and Dhunuchi Naach

The history behind some of these little-known festivals makes for great storytelling, but only a  few brands, backed by partners with deep expertise in culture-first marketing, are leveraging it. At 1.17 billion people, the Bharat audience is nearly 10 times the Indian audience (users who prefer English as their main language for using social media), bringing to the fore the massive growth opportunity. Culture is an important part of Bharat and leveraging it for effective engagement is a no-brainer for brands.  

With almost 78% of Bharat willing to try new brands and 76% making their decisions based on ads, it’s imperative for marketers to capture the finer yet zealous nuances of Bharat’s subcultures to make the most of the festive season, which are critical in building a personal connection. 

Indic-first content is perfect for creating a ‘feel at home’ environment that drives conversations and business growth. And brands are investing in regional content in a bid to unlock growth, with a 20-30% increase in regional language ad spends over the last few years. But it’s not just about creating different variations of a base ad in other languages. Context is everything when it comes to festive marketing and culture, and the deeper brands can go, the better the outcome. 

Pillars of a strategic festive marketing campaign  

To take the festive campaign to the next level, brands need to first capture the cultural aspects accurately down to the colloquialisms and dialect used by the audience, secondly, leverage non-intrusive, engaging media formats and lastly, incorporate festive purchase behaviour.  

For instance, while traditional wisdom is that festive purchases are planned months in advance,  one of four in Bharat are actually last-minute shoppers. Based on this insight, it’s critical to plan festive campaigns to cater to both the type of shoppers – who plan months in advance and the ones who buy at the last minute.  

What’s next for festival-focused marketing campaigns? 

Using short videos 

Video is the way forward when delivering Indic-first content, with users generating a massive over 1,000 billion views in 2021. It can enable brands to connect with their audiences in a highly engaging format, create instant brand recall, and boost return on investment (ROI).  

Particularly, short-form videos have quickly grown in popularity in the last few years. Most people are busy with multiple activities and have little time on their hands. Short videos grab their attention with easy-to-consume and interesting content, breaking through decision fatigue.  

68% of users have increased their consumption of short-form videos in India. And as much as  55% of users credit regional content for their short-form video consumption. Thereby, advertisers should focus on leveraging the power of short-form videos to engage with their desired target audience rather than getting into the ‘completed views’ conundrum, a long-form video byproduct. 

Leveraging user-generated content  

Hashtag challenges are an excellent way to leverage the celebratory mood during festivals. Pair it with interesting, actionable content, and you have a winner.  

User-generated content (UGC) lets you connect with audiences organically while enriching their brand experience. As much as 93% of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by customers more than content created by brands.  

Diving into influencer networks

Regional content creators can induce relevance in marketing campaigns for Bharat users,  sometimes more than celebrities or movie stars. Bharat influencers mostly hail from Indic language-first regions and are well-placed to deliver authentic regional campaigns during the festive season. Where brands face an uphill task of forging a loyal bond with their customers,  creators are managing effortlessly through the authenticity and relatability of their content. 

Incorporate behavioural insights 

For high impact, it’s imperative that the campaign taps into Bharat’s desires, purchase cycle,  integral platforms, etc. Bharat loves discounts and offers and there’s no escaping it. Not providing discounts and offers during this time could be counterproductive. Online is a way of life for  Bharat. For about 70% of Bharat, online platforms play a crucial role in the purchase journey. Not just this, social media platforms alone influence purchase decisions for nearly 44% of Bharat.  To tap into Bharat, an online-first strategy is a must. Since almost 25% of Bharat buys last minute,  the campaign shouldn’t taper towards the last week of the festive season but should be kept on to target the last-minute shoppers.  

To sum it up, brands that can marry the emotional aspects of the festivals with the practical ones will shine the brightest. Let the festivities begin! 

The author is the chief revenue officer of ShareChat and Moj. Views expressed are personal.

Also Read: Conversational commerce and AI: The concoction that can prove to be the success mantra for D2C brands

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First published on: 24-10-2022 at 08:28 IST