Do you remember ever having mangoes in winter or kesar doodh in summer or receiving boxes of soan papdi (which, of course, we promptly re-gift) anytime other than Diwali?
It’s not that these aren’t available at other times of the year, it’s just that the average Indian isn’t tuned to buying it at any other time. In India, seasonality of consumption trends have as much to do with cultural traditions and festivals as they do with changes in weather.
Here we look at some insights about the “seasons” that impact FMCG sales in India.

KEY SEASONS FOR CONSUMER GOODS IN INDIA

1. IPL season

Cricket unites (and divides) us like nothing else. Like sports fans around the world, we’re passionate and opinionated about our favorite sport, never mind our own limited capacities of playing! What this does though is that it encourages us to reach out and meet friends and family to enjoy these moments together.

Consumer goods brands — snack and beverage brands, in particular — recognize this and aim to leverage this bonding to drive sales. Every year, they spend crores of rupees on advertising and marketing in the weeks before and during the IPL. IPL ads have become what Super Bowl ads are in the US market; brands save their best efforts and big budgets for this season. And the impact shows.

2. The Big Fat Festivals: Navaratri/Durga Pujo/Diwali/Ramzan/Eid!

This list is irrelevant unless it includes the most popular spending season of the year — late September to late November, a period that sees back-to-back festivals including Navaratri, Durga Pujo, Diwali, Ramzan and Eid, and then again during Christmas and New Year. During these months even the most frugal consumers open their hearts and their wallets and meet up with family & friends over food and drinks and exchange gifts.
Of late, many brands have woken up to the potential of leveraging the demand in this season for unique gifting options by positioning their products — cookies, juices, chocolates, chips, namkeens — as modern gifts for today’s consumer.
Cadbury was one of the first to attempt changing consumers’ mindsets about the traditional Diwali gift/mithai of choice with the launch of its festive Cadbury Celebration packages way back in 2002, backed by an aggressive ad campaign starring Amitabh Bachchan.

Today, come Diwali season, many categories of brands bundle their top-selling products into attractive gift packages. Brands as diverse as Coke, Haldiram’s, Elite (cakes), Unibic, and Paper Boat have launched gift packages in 2017. And, if the numbers are to be believed, the strategy is a resounding success.
Our report on consumption trends of middle-class and affluent FMCG consumers had highlighted the increasing popularity of gift packs – about 12% of total sales in the snacks division in modern urban snack brands was from combos & gift packs! Here’s another chart that shows the sales trends of gift packs through the year. As you can see, the sales for gift packs hits the stratosphere during the festive season. Note that there’s a smaller peak right before the Navratri-Diwali peak. That’s for late August when Janmashtami and Ganesh Chaturthi come around.

3. Small but strong: Regional New Years
Our data shows that sales of many FMCG products — food products, in particular — increases sharply in April and May. This period coincides with important regional festivals such as Ugadi, Vishu, Bihu, and Tamil and Bengali new year (Rama Navami too).

For instance, the sale of ghee — the key ingredient in most Indian sweets — spikes during the this period to almost match the surge in Navratri/Diwali season. Considering this, should ghee brands and others consider a more aggressive advertising push during these months too?

ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS

The data shows clear, strong demand surges for many food and beverage products during specific times of the year and brands that fail to leverage these will lose out on wallet share and revenues. Here are some steps every FMCG brand should be taking to make the most of the seasons in FMCG sales.
1. Collect reliable data on the seasonality factor in your segment: Right now most brands rely on heuristics — a combination of wisdom handed down generations and gut feeling — to come up with seasonality factors. This has worked well in the past when the retail landscape was slow to change. However, in the current dynamic scenario, this strategy will leave your brand shooting in the dark.
The good news is that valuable holistic data on seasonal demand for your brand is usually sitting at arm’s length — in the primary, secondary and tertiary sales numbers buried in your sales force automation tool. Your distributors and retailers can also give you this data. The best sales network automation tools can also give you a steady stream of reports on your competitor’s shelf. Check to see if your sales and distribution automation solution offers you the capability to pull relevant reports easily.
2. Predict demand: If you’ve done the first step well, this should be easy to do. Again, your sales automation tool should help you predict demand for your products and suggest orders so that order fulfillment happens seamlessly during peak seasons and wastage is kept to a minimum when the cycle reverts to non-peak demand.
3. Devise a suitable advertising and promotion strategy for each season that’s relevant to your brand: Ensure that your brand capitalizes on peak seasons by rolling out attractive promotion schemes and advertising campaigns. An aggressive push during high demand seasons can reap benefits for the brand through the year as this is a time when consumers are more likely to sample a wide range of products as gifts and at the homes of friends and family, so do everything you can to make it into your consumers’ Diwali/Ugadi/Eid shopping list.

How do the trends highlighted in this article compare to your brand’s experience? What are your product’s peak seasons? What steps do you take to maximize your sales during peak season? We would love to hear from you in the comments section.
Don’t have enough visibility and insights on seasonality in your segment? Book a free consulting session with our sales team at sales@bizom.in. 

Akshay heads the marketing division at Mobisy. He is a marketing veteran with several years of experience in the telecom sector. He is passionate about using insights to help Bizom’s customers reach their growth goals.