Every September, India lights up with a slew of festivals, ending only with the advent of the New Year. As the festive rush starts in full swing, Indians get busy prepping and shopping for the celebrations. With more than a quarter reserved for a host of activities with friends, food and family, this is also the time Indians are on the lookout for the best brands and the biggest deals. Thus, for marketers, the festive season provides an unparallel opportunity to maximise conversions and drive sales.
What’s interesting to note is the spike in search activity from connected consumers looking for the most covetable products online. For any brand focusing on improving their customer acquisition and retention efforts, Search as a channel could be a game-changer, thanks to the ready access to high-intent audiences. Keeping this in mind, and the shifting consumer preferences in the post-pandemic era, Microsoft Advertising and InMobi have released their recent report ‘Festive season shopper insights 2022’. In order to understand some of the key takeaways and strategies for leveraging search advertising, read on.
Shopping peaks during Diwali
Weeks before the festival of lights, India goes on a shopping spree, with search queries for multiple categories – like apparel, retail, jewellery and travel – seeing a significant spike. As per data from the Microsoft Search Network, 55% of searchers use search engines for online product research while 40% of searchers use search engines for brand discovery. From users’ online activity, it is evident how everything from learning about new brands, products and product categories to actually making a purchase, has shifted online. With this digital-first shift in exploring and buying patterns, the first week of sales in Oct is a pivotal moment for marketers.
Search patterns from 2021 provide unmissable insights
Learning from last year’s queries – a time when the world was still recovering from the pandemic – will provide ample ammunition for brands to plan their search campaigns this year. Both branded and non-branded queries are unlikely to see major modifications given that certain queries are inherent to Indian consumers and their festive shopping behaviour. However, the volume of search queries is bound to increase, resulting in a growth rate in sales from 2021, already visible from the Independence Day sales this year. As consumers prepare for a dazzling festive season after the uncertainty of the last two years, apparel and retail categories will pick up faster in comparison to other categories, closely followed by jewellery and travel.
Key festive behaviours drive search queries
The festive season in India is marked with unabashed celebrations, and indulgence in shopping forms a key part of it. From the glitter of Diwali to the merriment of Christmas, wardrobes get refreshed, interiors stand out with new furniture, gadgets see record sales, so on and so forth. This trend is driven by a simple insight – the festive season is a huge opportunity for Indian consumers to upgrade different aspects of their lifestyle. Search queries show a need to indulge while making the most of lucrative deals available online. Gifting also sees a massive high during this season, as consumers look forward to spending quality time with their friends and family.
Search Advertising and how it can help brands stand out this season
Leveraging search advertising puts marketers right, front and centre of potential customers, enabling them to serve the right message at the right time. For maximising impact with Search, here are a few points to consider –
Prepare for the pre-festive rush
Since shopping begins as early as September, this is the time for brands to kick off their festive season sales. For the following months, consumers are busy searching for everything from gifts, home appliances, apparel and jewellery, beauty and personal care, food, and beverages, household supplies to larger products such as automobiles. As with last year, search volumes will spike in the pre-festive period, as consumers hunt for new products, compare brands, and finally make a purchase. To be able to rake in maximum conversions, it's imperative for brands to be present at the epicentre of online festive activity – the search engine.
Prioritise contextual relevance and safe buying experiences
Marketers should serve contextual ads to be able to solve for user queries and eventually drive sales. This starts with reaching the ideal audience with precise targeting and curating relevant experiences – be it through presenting products as possible gifting options or communicating lucrative sales and offers to the deal hunters. To drive deeper connections with shoppers, flexibility and convenience become key along with a focus on safety. Brands should highlight services such as contactless delivery services in Search ads, in order to create a positive impression on consumers looking for safe shopping experiences.
Leverage Search from Awareness to Action
The festive season sees a lot of online clutter, with every brand vying for that coveted user attention. To be able to cut through the noise, marketers should be aware of today’s non-linear customer journeys and leverage Search across the funnel. Choosing the right kind of ad, aligned to the buyer’s persona and every stage of his journey, is crucial here. During the learning stage, while users are making generic searches, brands should leverage search ads to stay on top of the mind of potential customers. Remarketing ads can enable brands to drive better recall during the exploring phase when users are busy with price/product comparisons. Finally, for the purchasing phase, brands can close the loop on conversions with shopping ads for a seamless buying experience.
To learn more about how best to influence consumer decisions this festive season, read the ‘Festive season shopper insights 2022’ report.