Sparking off Diwali Festivities Down Under

This blog was written by Shivani Maddali from the MultiConnexions Marketing team.

Diwali, also known as Deepavali or the Festival of Lights, is an Indian festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil. It is the most important festival in Hindu culture, often likened to the ‘Indian Christmas’ and is celebrated across the globe by the South Asian diaspora. During Diwali, the sky dazzles with firecrackers, the streets are lit with diyas (earthen lamps), gifts are exchanged, and the atmosphere is brimming with joy. It is a five-day celebration, with each day having its own significance and tale. Diwali also marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year and is considered an auspicious time for financial investments.

Diwali is also an important time for marketers as customers are actively shopping for various items such as investment opportunities or gifting options (jewellery and technology).  In India, many media brand launches occur during Diwali because Indian consumers are much more receptive during this time.

Celebrating Diwali far away from home

For Indian and South Asian international students, Diwali represents a key time to connect with their cultural roots. Many international students, including myself, have not been able to go home these past two years due to the border closures and this can make students feel quite isolated from their culture. Talking to my Indian friends and reflecting upon my own experiences, cultural festivals are even more important for international students as they cultivate a sense of belonging and community away from home.

In celebration of Diwali abroad, international students look for brands that are reaching out to them during this time. Disappointingly, there are not many marketers that recognize this key cultural moment to engage with the large Indian diaspora in Australia. During the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the Indian student market brought in $6.6 billion to the Australian economy.  International students are easily targetable and extremely profitable yet many Australian brands underestimate their value. During Diwali, Australian marketers must make more of an effort to authentically engage with these audiences via special offers, sincere wishes, and POS displays. This sentiment is deeply appreciated by Indian diaspora and helps them feel acknowledged – increasing brand consideration and purchase intentions.

In 2020, many brands successfully leveraged social media, influencer marketing and digital tools to deliver Diwali campaigns with culturally relevant messages that endeared themselves to the Indian and South Asian audiences. Here are some marketing tips to make your Diwali campaign stand out and resonate with customers.

1 .  Hyper personalisation and technological innovation

Cadbury’s ‘This is not just a Cadbury ad’ campaign was a commendable example as it utilised a hyper-personalised media plan and integration of advanced technology to tell a story about togetherness and bonding with family, friends and the community. It incorporated the data of hundreds of local brands and retailers badly impacted by pandemic as part of the campaign, so that audiences would be able to see the shops in the advertisement which were in their region or city. This made the concepts of ‘togetherness’ and ‘inclusiveness’ even more meaningful as it endeavoured to spread awareness and help small businesses in India, uplifting consumers and brands in the bright and charitable spirit of Diwali. Cadbury’s success can inspire other brands to adopt innovative technology and hyper-personalised media planning to reach customers better.

2 .  Stories about human connection and community  

Another advertisement that told a beautiful story was Phillips’ Diwali campaign ‘Khushiyon Ki Ladi’. From buying a new laptop, to visiting a sweets shop and receiving a gift delivery, the advertisement takes viewers on a familiar and heart-warming journey by showcasing some common traditions and customs of celebrating the Festival of Lights. The interlinked scenes weave together a coherent narrative that taps into the significance of Diwali to Indian and South Asian consumers as a time of community and interconnectivity. Like Cadbury, the campaign drew upon the ramifications that pandemic had on businesses worldwide by depicting the supportive ecosystem of the local economy and the dependency that businesses have upon one another. This signifies how community and togetherness are culturally important themes for marketers to consider when implementing a Diwali campaign.

3 .  Cultural references to win the hearts and minds of customers

Diwali is a celebration of Indian and South Asian cultures so brands showing a deep appreciation of the festival’s cultural traditions and customs will appeal to customers. This was what toothpaste brand Sensodyne achieved when they paid tribute to traditional Indian cuisine in their campaign ‘For the Love of Festive Favourites’. In their special Diwali film feature, it shows the recipe of ‘malpua’, a traditional Indian sweetened pancake soaked in sugar syrup that is typically eaten during the festive season. It touches upon the significance of maintaining festive traditions and that favourite foods should be enjoyed without the worry of tooth sensitivity. Brands can follow in Sensodyne’s footsteps by connecting these cultural touchstones to their value proposition or messaging as it shows an authentic effort to speak to the Indian and South Asian diaspora.

I have several friends who are second-generation Australian Indians and they are all culturally rooted, love their festivals and celebrate the joy and togetherness of Diwali. A few marketers have been able to understand that feeling of belonging, inclusivity and sense of identity that Australian Indians enjoy while celebrating their festivals. By greeting them at this special time and reaching out to them with special offers are sure ways of touching the hearts of these audiences.

Contact MultiConnexions today if you are interested in marketing to the fastest growing audience segment in Australia, the Indian and South Asian audience comprising of over 1.75 million by ancestry. An educated audience, affluent and over-indexed in terms of spending across several categories from financial, telecom, technology, health, property, automobiles, beauty, personal care and more.

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