Friday, November 9, 2007

Thank God for GODS!!

God sells... Wondering how? Ask those marketers all over the world, who are certainly going crazy peddling deities in all their extravagance and finery!

A free Diwali invite for all. Come and enjoy the vibrant Diwali celebrations complete with light displays, and floating lan terns and a spectacular show of martial arts and kathak. Not just these, there would be scrumptious Indian cuisine and mehndi stalls too. The event has everything you possibly can think of, except one tiny detail – air tickets are not included. For this one’s not a Diwali mela happening in your backyard, but at the Trafalgar Square in London. Every year, thousands of lamps are lit all over this beautiful square, symbolising the return of Lord Ram back to Ayodhya, even as thousands of NRIs come together to celebrate “Diwali in the Square”.

The ‘Festival of Lights’, yet another celebration in the United Kingdom is considered to be the biggest Diwali celebration outside India. It’s a non-stop entertainment mela with competitions like roti-rolling and sari-tying, and is funded by The Western Union. A whole lot of MNCs are realising the power of the ‘festival of lights’ and its ability to brighten up their balance sheets too! Western Union knows that Diwali time is the busiest time of the year for them, as people send money transfers to family & friends back home and it pays to be associated with the Diwali festivities. Non-Resident Indian communities are getting larger and richer and companies world over are watching their spending habits very closely., a popular flower delivery website in the UK, has included Diwali as a special date when you can send flowers, along with days like Christmas and Halloween. Mattle Toys too realised that they needed to dress up their star Barbie doll in Indian clothes to increase sales during the season; a special Barbie was launched before the festive season.

Time to celebrate

The festive season means excitement for retailers too. Last year the festive season started early – so did the frenzy. This year it starts a little late, but the craze is still the same. Just about everyone is in a shopping, spending and celebration mood. In fact, these days months. The customer is now ready for a spending spree and marketers are all set with their offerings. Almost all of them have big plans up their sleeve and all are waiting to hear the cash registers go jingle jingle.

LG is all set to achieve a Rs.2,500 crore turnover this festive season. It has launched its Pearl Back LCD TV in October and is hoping that the buying frenzy will contribute towards its aim to sell 20,000 units of Pearl Black in 45 days. Samsung is expecting to do business worth Rs.1,200 crores and plans to sell 5.5 lakh colour TVs during this time. It plans to give away Rs.35 crores worth of gifts and fill our lives with “Har ghar mein khushi, har ghar mein Samsung.”

Aviation player Air Deccan too is hoping to grab a share of the pie and has released 1.5 lakh tickets at special low fares. GoAir has come out with tickets as low as Rs.225. Even for the airline industry, this is the strongest quarter with a large number of NRIs visiting India to celebrate with their near and dear ones.

If it’s time for big money and big profits, Big FM will certainly not be left behind. The FM station has teamed up with ICICI Bank to offer Diwali discounts ranging from 9.27% to 92.7% on gadgets, jewellery, furnishings, et al.

Season of hope

Even the two-wheeler industry, which has been on a downswing this whole year (Hero Honda, Bajaj Auto & TVS, all saw their sales fall during April to September) has pinned its hopes on the festive season. This is their last chance to come out of the red and they are planning to flood the market with record discounts. And it’s not just the two-wheeler market, but it would be raining discounts for the car market as well, with Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors giving discounts as high as 15%. Clearly, since this is the best time of the year to buy cars, companies have saved up their best prices and best models for these months. Ford too is offering special edition models, while Spark, Zen Estilo, WagonR & Fiat Palio are all slashing their prices.

To add fuel to fire, banks have also decided to lower their interest rates at this time, so that consumers can borrow easily & splurge. SBI may reduce its home loan rates, just like HDFC. Whirlpool too is planning to cover its losses this time. It is expecting a 20% growth in sales this time and has kept aside Rs.200 million (out of its total marketing & advertising budget of Rs.700 million) for promoting its goods during the festival bonanza season.

It has worked in the past and should work this time too. After all, last year on October 9, Nokia sold 400,000 handsets in a single day, which is a record in its own right. Microsoft too made sure that it launched its X-Box 360 gaming console in India during Diwali. There is so much of spirit & good cheer that things will surely look up – and all marketers & retailers are keeping their fingers crossed.

Gods sell

Whoever denied that “god” had special powers. Marketers are accepting it too. Onam in Kerala ensures a boom in property sales. Durga Puja in Kolkata sees weeks of frantic buying of almost everything. Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra sees a whole lot of companies bending backwards to please customers. Airtel provided online priests & Ganesh hymns; Reliance’s Big 92.7 FM offered “Aarti” services to listeners. Gold coins with figures of gods & goddesses embossed on them are sold at a price higher than plain gold coins of the same weight.

God sells! So much so that the hottest selling fad items these days are lunch boxes with Hindu deities. From ‘Kali night lamps’ to ‘Ram T-shirts’ to ‘Krishna lunch boxes’, all are all bestsellers. So be it god in your prayers or god on your products – it always helps in making a sale. There seems to be just one prayer on the lips of all – thank god for the gods!

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