Beyond sales: How festive communication is evolving with shifting consumer patterns

On a closer look, the public conversation around the festive season this year is about sharing, caring, nostalgia and breaking stereotypes

Updated: Nov 3, 2021 05:53:07 PM UTC
Saregama urged consumers to look forward to a musical Diwali with its #ShorYaSangeet campaign

It’s that time of the year again, and irrespective of which part of the country you are in, you can feel the change of season and the flavour of festivities around you. This means so much more in 2021 as the whole nation was left reeling with a huge void last year, and the unparalleled joy of festivals was missing for most part of the year. With India crossing the one-billion vaccination mark, and people encouraging Covid-19 appropriate behavior, there is an obvious energy of celebration around us.

The festive season also marks the start of multiple marketing campaigns, so whether you are watching tv or scrolling through your timelines, or driving past the glaring billboards around the city, it is hard to miss the feel-good content, offers, or meaningful stories that brighten up our moods.

Brands and the messages they choose to share play a pivotal role in driving consumer sentiment during the festival season. At face value, these campaigns and their messages feel consistent with previous years, but if you take a closer look at the public conversation around the festive season this year, you’ll notice themes such as the spirit of sharing, caring, breaking stereotypes, and nostalgia.

Festive communication as we know it has evolved drastically, and the importance of culturally relevant advertising is an imperative part of a marketer’s playbook. Today’s discerning consumer looks at communication from the lens of inclusion, diversity and the brand’s commitment to the larger good. These realities have been further amplified with the complexity of the pandemic and shifting consumer patterns.

Speaking through data, a recent study conducted by Quilt.AI across 10 metros in India analysing over a year’s worth of Twitter data, highlighted some codes of festivity. We saw the theme of enjoyment, belonging, and reflecting dominate the conversation versus the idea of opulence and reminiscing.

Here, we break down individual themes:

  1. Enjoyment: The experience of the festival, celebration, and living in the moment.
  2. Belonging: Forming connections and a sense of community during festival time.
  3. Reflecting: Paying attention to their own thoughts, emotions, decisions, and behaviours.
  4. Opulence: Indulging in rewards, and individual experiences.
  5. Reminiscing: Sharing emotions that bring nostalgia, and walking along the memory lane.

Decoding the changing dynamics of brand advertising during the festive season:  

From individual to collective

Individual consumerism doesn’t remain an attractive proposition, and the post-pandemic consumer is reflecting on choices, while yearning for collective experiences. A significant number of brands have embraced this accelerated consumer focus towards community, environment and belonging in their year-end communication.

Take this example for instance:

Connecting cultures  

The world continues to advocate for equality and inclusion of all across the spectrum of life. We have seen brands step into bold topics, and reimagine communication through the lens of diversity. Festivals can both connect or divide various cultures, and advertising will prove to be a great leveler. See this for instance:


Last year, marketers relied upon exceptional creativity and storytelling to connect with their consumers, and were thoughtful in crafting messages in the backdrop of the pandemic. This year end, we will continue to see brands spread positivity to communication to bring alive the festival’s spirit across India.

With this in mind, here’s a quick check-list for brands to consider during this festive season:

Focus on well-being

While the pandemic has significantly increased the focus on health, well-being and the environment, there is a lack of awareness of how to celebrate a pollution-free Diwali. There is an increase in intent but not enough awareness on how to. Content on such a topic can be well received and help a brand break through the clutter. Here are some examples of brands: Saregama urged consumers to look forward to a musical Diwali with its #ShorYaSangeet campaign; Oppo’s #BeTheLight campaign inspired users to embrace the festive finery and spread the light in unique ways.

Own the purpose

Research has proven that brands that find a purpose and stick to it are likely to be perceived as culturally relevant and connect better with consumers. Diwali offers numerous possibilities for brands to do so, and making the festival meaningful, be it through organised donations, creating awareness for a cause or leading from the front and disrupting the market, like Cred did when they asked consumers to donate their coins for Oxygen, or One Plus did when every Tweet led to the planting of a tree. Another great example is what Amazon did where they donated a safety kit for every social media engagement during the festive season.

Personalise and delight

A huge amount of offers, deals and discounts cascade to consumers during Diwali, but several of these get missed in the blitzkrieg. The right social media strategy helps create a differentiation for your offering and gives much better returns by way of engagement, memorability and action. A great example of this would be Flipkart that ran an ‘Emoji Do Offers Lo’ campaign where it said: Show us what's on your shopping list with an emoji and we will give you an offer you can't refuse.

Time to unpack the festive clothes and spread the light collectively. Let’s sit back and get ready to celebrate this season’s favourite campaigns that will surprise, delight and connect all of us.

About authors: Kanika Mittal is the Business Head of Twitter and Rishabh Sharma is the Head of Twitter Next India.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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