Q4 in India: Making the Most of Festivals and Holiday Shopping Events

Oct 5, 2021
Written by Tracel Fernandez

It all started with a big boom, but not the cosmic kind. The boom we’re talking about is the one that digitized India back in 2015.

The Digital India campaign united India with low cost, widely available smartphones and high-speed connectivity, making India one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing base of digital consumers with an expected value of $11.5B by 2025. This fast-paced adoption caused Indian traditions to seep into online purchase behavior, creating dramatic shopping peaks that coincide with Indian festivals and traditions.

Reporting from CJ Bangalore, India, the Publisher Development team brings you key holiday insights and tips for how to monetize your brand in India’s Q4!


Diwali, Dussehra, Navratri, Dhanteras, and Christmas

Similar to the US and other countries, October, November, and December culminate in the largest annual shopping season in India. Filled with festivals and fueled by the belief that it’s an auspicious time to shop, retailers respond by offering their best discounts—this season is a gift for ecommerce players. Additionally, companies may give employee bonuses during this time, leading to extra cash flow. According to a study by Google, Indian consumers go online to search for inspiration and to keep up with the latest fashion trends, peaking about two to three weeks before Diwali. In 2021, Flipkart's Big Billion Days and Amazon's Great Indian Festival Sale will build up shopping appetite in early October and expect to maintain the same pace through Q4. Clothes, shoes, and mobile phones are the most searched keywords. This is the best time for advertisers to up their game and ensure their brands are the answer to search queries.

Global shopping events like Black Friday and Christmas are for cross-border shopping, with consumers buying discounted products that aren’t available in India. Popular products include electronics and fashion brands. The cost of international shipping and local import duties are a consideration—freight forwarders are being introduced even more so in 2021. Local ecommerce players have adopted year-end sales that run pre-Christmas through New Year’s where apparel is shopped most often, and travel is picking up in Q4 as a large chunk of Indians are fully vaccinated and many countries are opening their borders.


Popular Shopping Categories

Apparel and accessories: Fashion is the highest-selling category due to the abundance of brands, size availability, and ease of delivery, and online returns. Myntra is the leading online shopping platform, however, foreign brands are taking the Indian market by storm and are growing significantly.

Electronics: High-ticket value items like home appliances, electronics, and mobile phones were huge in 2019, benefitting from the fact that the promotions for this category are usually doubled, i.e. a sale celebrating Diwali from the retailer layered with bank discounts or cashback.

Silver and gold: During Dhanteras, (the first day of Diwali) it’s auspicious to purchase silver and gold, which were traditionally bought offline. However, when payment apps like Paytm, PhonePe, Mobikwik, and Amazon offered online payment for the purchase of gold, Indians were quick to adapt. It’s important for jewelers to give out the same discounts online as they would in-store.

Gifts (both corporate and personal): With the rise of environmentally conscious millennials, gifts have drifted away from traditional fireworks and crackers to instead favor baskets filled with chocolates, sweets, home décor, gift cards, and more. If your brand falls into the digital services category, promoting gift cards and subscriptions with holiday gifting-themed messaging will bring you success.

Gaming: The Indian Premier League (IPL) started pre-Q4 and the craze is real! Gamification of offers on the publisher side is leading to fans buying everything from merchandise to electronics. During the cricket and football seasons, especially IPL and FIFA, Fantasy Leagues are huge. Data by Statista shows the Indian gaming market is valued at about $890M. “Freemium” is the sought-after game monetization model, where users get to play free but are charged on upgrades.

Lifestyle products like groceries and beauty: Whether shoppers are treating themselves or plan to gift someone else a self-care package, these categories are a big hit. In the beauty category, miniature versions of products are sought after, especially from brands that prove to be a good value. Groceries are a year-round staple and with consumer behavior shifting due to the pandemic, it is safe to say that celebratory meal prep and decorations will be purchased online now and in the years to come.


Tips for Approaching the Indian Market

With a market that’s this unique in culture, both global and local brands need an approach that’s highly tailored to fit the psyche and behavior of Indian consumers. Take a step back to assess your brand’s capabilities:

  • Do you offer shipping to India? And if you do, is it affordable?
  • What modes of payment do you support?
  • Can you display prices in Indian Rupees?
  • Are you able to offer Site to Store promotions?
  • Can you curate seasonal offers with a local flavor?

Indians prefer free shipping over fast delivery, a variety of payment capabilities, and when it comes to high-ticket or luxury products, Indian consumers prefer to purchase in-store to have the experience of touching and feeling the product in person. Cash on delivery is also in demand and it’s best to curate offers in Indian Rupees (INR).


Top Publishers in India

Raising awareness about your brand’s unique selling points and upcoming sales is highly crucial while setting yourself up for success in India. According to Google, people in India are relying heavily this year on "useful and authentic content" to help them make purchase decisions. Luckily, CJ works with the biggest media and content players in the market such as Times Internet Limited (5228227) which has more than 35 properties including India’s biggest tech site, GadgetsNow. We've also partnered with MSN (5312224) and more content partners that have captured Indian readers near and far and can bring in brand education with sponsored content in multiple Indian dialects. 

During this season, frugality plays a huge part in purchasing decisions, so it only makes sense to work with the top Indian loyalty and coupon publishers in the CJ network such as CashKaro (5374905), Vihaan (3564906), PaisaWapas (4646189), GoPaisa (5013485), Zoutons (5173576), GrabOn (4034681), CouponDunia (3778723), and more. Whether you have an extensive budget or a small one, Indian publishers have placement opportunities ranging from commission increases, TM+ opportunities, vanity codes, to flat fee branding within the range of $50-$10k, all up for grabs.

Site to Store

Take advantage of affiliate marketing to help generate more in-store sales with CJ's ability to track and reward publishers for offline transactions.

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