India is a melting pot of cultures, where an abundance of festivals paints the calendar— from the nine-day long Navratri in early October, which celebrates the goddess Durga in all her forms, a symbol of the divine feminine; leading to Dussehra, which will fall on October 24 this year—a celebration of good’s triumph over evil; and culminating in perhaps India’s most recognized celebration: Diwali—the annual festival of light, which falls on November 12 this year, and, of course, Christmas and New Year.
The country is the second-largest online market in the world with about 900 million internet users, and countries such as the US and the UK have a significant Indian population, a demographic segment with an increasing amount of spending power.
While Indian celebrations are diverse across regions and cultures, there’s a common love for shopping, leading to a rise in searching, exploring, and buying among consumers. A phone for your mother, your uncle’s favorite dessert, new curtains for your living room, a weekend getaway to catch a break after a busy year—amidst the collective delight, brands are instrumental in fostering bonds between people and spreading joy.
With the festive season in India in full bloom, let’s explore what Indian festive shoppers are looking for, and how brands can leverage these insights to delight their audiences.
The festivities start with a search
Insights from the Microsoft Search Network reveal that over 50% of Indians use search engines for product research, and more than 1 in 3 use them to discover new brands.
Search queries can be a potent source to gain insight into consumer behavior patterns and right the way for marketers to build strategic campaigns that enable brands to be present across the customer journey.
Upon analyzing past year’s search data for India, we found key trends across shopping categories like Consumer Electronics, Groceries, Food, Personal Care, Gifting, and Automobiles. One of them is the rise of generic keyword searches related to festive shopping, such as ‘sale’, ‘discount’, ‘offers’, ‘cheap’, ‘deals’, and ‘near me’. These saw an average Month-over-Month (MoM) uplift of +19%.
How can brands become a part of the celebrations?
Prepare for the pre-festive enthusiasm and beyond
For major holidays like Diwali and Christmas, shopping begins months before the festive season starts. According to Microsoft’s internal data, categories such as Consumer Electronics and Beauty saw more than 20% rise in searches in the run-up to the festival of Dussehra, making it a critical time for brands. Ultimately, the brands that succeed the most are those that launch campaigns early in the season to revel in the exhilaration of the upcoming celebrations. This not only fosters moments of connection with customers but also gives brands a first-mover advantage that ensures their brand remains top of mind amidst heavy competition as the holidays approach.
By tapping into the pre-festive anticipation with the help of category-specific user insights, brands can curate tailored experiences, such as special offers and interactive content that resonate with their audience. Marketers can also leverage the audience targeting options to reach users who have shown interest in similar products or have specific demographic characteristics relevant to their target audience during the festive period.
Enable a smooth funnel for the hybrid shopper with omnichannel marketing
In the evolving landscape of festive shopping, an omnichannel marketing approach prevails, seamlessly blending online and offline experiences. According to InMobi’s 2023 report, The Marketers Guide to India’s Festive Season, 84% of Indian festive shoppers have increased their budgets and 54% will indulge in hybrid shopping. This dynamic shift requires brands to orchestrate a smooth journey, guiding the hybrid shopper from awareness to conversion.
By connecting with high-intent audiences early and effectively through a multi-channel full-funnel approach, brands can maximize their presence across the customer journey instead of focusing on just the final stage of purchase/sale. This will enable you to connect with your audience at any touchpoint and provide a richer customer experience.
Brands can tailor messages, real-time offers, and seamless transitions that cater to the unique needs of the hybrid shopper. This enables an efficient flow, where awareness effortlessly navigates into conversion, making the festive shopping experience truly exceptional.
Foster festive harmony by building trust
Festivities are when shoppers can easily turn to a plethora of brands, intrigued by offers and interesting features. For brands to stand out trust will be key. According to Microsoft’s Marketing with Purpose Playbook, the correlation between trust and brand loyalty is 76%. By presenting accurate and relevant information during product search and discovery, brands can establish credibility and reliability. This will ensure that they not only stay with the shopper during their festive shopping journey but also make an impact that lasts beyond the festivities.
This lasting impact can be achieved beyond the realm of the search engine. In-market audiences offer advertisers a unique opportunity to connect with users based on their desires and intent, extending beyond search engine interactions. This powerful feature enables brands to engage with potential customers precisely when they’re exploring various online content, enabling targeted advertising that resonates with users’ interests and needs, not only when they’re searching for something specific.
It's time to light up your campaigns
With pre-festive engagement, seamless hybrid shopping experiences, and an omnichannel marketing approach, your brand can master the art of building trust with the enthusiastic festive shopper.
We hope to see your brand and shoppers dance in festive harmony, craft cherished memories, and illuminate every connection. To learn more about the Indian festive shopping trends, check out the latest report. And if you’re interested in making the best of Microsoft’s offerings in India, be sure to get in touch with the team at InMobi.