An article in The Hindu, published on August 14, 2019, suggests that 'Despite stagnant incomes and increased joblessness, Indians are hopeful about the economy's future'. That is good news to set out the festive mood. Notwithstanding the monsoon sways of good and bad, there is enough reason for marketers to set realistic growth targets for the short term.
The study, Consumer Confidence Survey and the Consumer Sentiments Survey referred to in this article was done respectively by the RBI and the CMIE with the objective to understand the consumer's perception of future prospects. It is important to set the expectations right as it is pointed out that a "GDP of even 6 per cent per annum is lamented upon as a slowdown". We can imagine how every year, huge sales targets are set in every other industry and the resulting impact it has on employee motivation and relationship.
Kerala is considered the bell weather (call it the Rain Man), for the festive mood. Auto sales have been affected dramatically but it seems other household durables category has continued to show double digit growth, which should give everyone reason to believe that spends on discretionary goods should continue to be on the up-take. The Rain Man severely punished us last year and this year it seems he has shown us the fate of our incorrigible ways again. Hope we learn and act faster to adopt better ways towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
Time is of essence. Given the fact that we have a very short lead up to Onam, but enough to lay the grounds for other festivals, it is felt that marketers need to take bold steps and also more humane steps to make festivals a time to give back to the society. World over companies are now looking to build what is called the ESG philosophy - Environment, Social and Governance. There are a 100 things different companies can do differently but here is a framework that will help both small and big players to get thinking and put together an individually tailor-made model for success.
The festive season should give consumers one of the three takeaways on the ESG plank, environment being the most imperative one in the current context, at least for the three states that are most badly affected by the incessant rains - Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Companies can broaden their appeal through social impact programmes on 'Sustainable Development Goals' that will draw empathy across the board, internal and external.
Engage with NGO's - They are always looking for commercial partners to take their message deeper and wider.
Bond with employees through gifting with a clear accent on the environment and/or social concerns facing our society. Remember 'charity begins at home'.
Remember the old research about advertising during a downturn that helped a brand recoil and spring back on the growth trajectory faster than the others? So this is the time to build your green equity through messages to develop the companies' ESG philosophy that will pay even richer dividends in the future.
No better time to ride the triple-decker bus. People and Purpose first, Profits afterwards?
(The author is founder-director of Rubixkube Communications, an advertising and media consultancy company.)