Sanjeev Kotnala: Time for Brands to go ‘All In’ this festive season

09 Sep,2020

By Sanjeev Kotnala


Festivals have a lot of consumption propelling elements built into their rituals, processes and experiences. The experience include elements that push consumption. Festivals are social connect programmes. Groups like families and friends find a reason to come together and celebrate. People invest in a replacement, renewing and purchase of items. The feast is part of celebrations, so is gifting. Even donating is part of the process.


Festivals are about a FRESH START in life. Can it be the fresh start the economy needs?


There is hope. By divine design, Dassera and Diwali are delayed with the Mal Mass between Shradh and Navratri. And, how the consumer behaves is entirely dependent on how the Unlock-4.0 and next 30 days go with Coronavirus. There is not much of prediction that can be done.



I was listening to ‘Journey with the master’, Chapter 20, ‘Chinmaya Jivan Drashan’, on the app ‘GITA 365’. Here is what I listened to and thought of the waves of uncertainties in the ocean of business opportunities..

It is nature of the ocean to have waves. And if you want to take bath in the sea , you must know how to play with the waves. Don’t stand there like a piece of rock, complaining each wave dashing on to you. Your complaints will not make the waves coming. Understand that is the nature of the sea. Learn to play with the wave.



Currently, the consumer is trapped. There is fear. And this fear and the resultant precautionary behaviour is far more visible in the bigger towns than the tier-II and III. However, the cash flows are severely impacted in the smaller cities. The result, impulse purchase is out. Basic necessities are the only things being bought and that  too shows a decreased demand. Luxury goods are a mixed bag. Super-luxury items which are price-insensitive anyway are the least impacted.



Now, if and only if there is positive news  of decreased mortality or the availability of the vaccine, the market may see a turnaround. Unfortunately, as I write, it is looking impossible.

Brands must realign to the situation. Maybe rewrite the code for their existence and purpose in the life of the consumer. Just being positive won’t help.



If the waves are small, you jump over the. If the wave  is too big you duck under it. No wave can stand on top of you to punish they are ‘agamapayino anityaha’, they are impermanent, they come and go. Learn to play with the waves. Enjoy the game.

But if you stand there and complain, Is there a God? What is justice? Why am I being beaten by the waves? You will be beaten down.  Just as the rock on the sides are beaten up by the waves. You will be beaten up blue and red.



The brands can continue with the obvious extra care, precaution, things WILL BE good, we are in it together, and we are doing okay kind of communication. OR they can take the communication to things ARE nice. This is the new life, and there is a way to live and to celebrate. The brands can take the situation head-on.



It may be advised that the brand communication stops reflecting and reiterating the precautions about the pandemic. Everyone knows them. Better to stop investing in consumer education and focus on Brand education. Get functional and give the consumer a reason to indulge.

Forget about the negatives. Forget about the jobs lost; they are not in the consumption subset. Forget about the fear people have as that will only curb purchase and consumption decision. Brands can still be humane, play on emotions and happiness. Nothing stops a brand from being positive and caring by reflecting and not necessarily amplifying the pandemic safety guidelines. Remember, unhappy people don’t celebrate – don’t purchase.

Remember to forget a small moment of unhappiness you need a bigger unhappy moment and to forget anything a smallest of happy moment is enough.



The waves have no compassion. It has its Rhythm. If you want to play with them you have to enter into their rhythm.  Similarly in the world of happenings around, if you stand there as an incompetent fool and complain that my life is like that, everything is “tragic-tragic”, more and more tragedy you are inviting upon yourself.

Face them diligently , understanding that this is the game. Nothing is permanent in the world. The ‘Infinite Reality’ alone is permanent. And that permanent reality- no harm shall ever come to it. That is my true nature understand that – act on in the world outside.



Brands should stop thinking of testing waters but be real aggressive in communication and marketing. This quarter is the defining quarter of this financial year. There is no benefit in holding back and waiting for Q4.

The brand is already defeated in the market and the sales team mind when it thinks of sustenance media investment during festivals. When the thought of pushing the advertising marketing savings into the depleting bottom line is discussed in management forums. Don’t waste, don’t splurge, be strategic and go ALL IN. The brand is bound to benefit not only in the short but also in the long run. Act on in the world outside.



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