In India, celebrating festivals and happy occasions can never be complete without buying new things, feasting and gifting. Every year, one can see the marketing frenzy pick up the pace with Independence Day sales in early to mid-August, followed by other festivals leading to Ganesh Chaturthi in September-October. The strong sales momentum continues with Onam in Kerala, followed by Durga Puja in the East, Navratri, Dussehra in the north and ends with Diwali in October-November.
Typically during the festive season, the FMCG industry sees an increase of around 30% in the sales of biscuits, cookies, chocolates, sweets, juices, dry fruits, electronics and small appliances. This year we’ve seen strong ‘revenge shopping’ trends, with an average 17% YoY rise in retail sales. Adani Wilmar expects sales volume to be higher by 15-20 per cent as rural India has largely witnessed good monsoon rains, and employment has picked up in urban areas. “After two years of the pandemic, people are out to enjoy, causing out-of-home consumption to increase. The festival mood has already begun, and it looks like this sentiment will continue till December,” Angshu Mallick, managing director and chief executive officer (MD & CEO) of Adani Wilmar.
So how do our FMCG partners ride through the festive rush without getting flustered?
The first is that they have a strong marketing strategy to promote their brand. As the competition gets fierce every passing day, all brands attempt to take an innovative approach to catch the attention of their customers. Like how Bikano, the packaged food products brand of Bikanervala Foods, advertised on radio for the first time to reach out to a wider consumer base. “This time we have activated our media, like radio, social media campaigns and advertising in newspapers too to get customers. We are campaigning on radio for the first time,” said Pankaj Agarwal, chief operating officer at Bikano.
The second is that they have an equally aggressive GTM strategy with a strong distribution game plan to anticipate and fulfil the festive demand.
How exactly FMCG companies ride the ‘rush months’ with ease
1. Using Historical Data For Today’s incisive strategies
To make sure they are able to a) meet the demand timely and b) meet it with the right products, companies need to have relevant information about customers, product attributes, historical buying behaviour and purchase context.
Automation tools like SFA ( Sales force Automation), DMS (Distributor management system) , retailer apps, modern trade or promoter apps etc capture all that with cutting-edge insights on historical data on things like
- How the sales were per month in the festive season in the previous year
- Which kind of products sell well for which festival
- How each region performs differently during the same festival
- What kind of assortment works for which kind of outlet category.
For e.g one of the biggest brands of chocolates and choco-pies in India saw an average increase of about 8.5% in order quantity in July to prep for the upcoming months. They also witnessed almost 1.5 hours of extra retailing time a day in October to ensure their products were visible to the customers in all retail outlets in peak season.
Another customer, the biggest namkeens and sweets company in India saw a 46% increase in average Total calls in Bihar and Jharkhand in the Aug-Sep period to get ready for the rush right from Durga Pooja to Chatt pooja that comes in October end.
The same festival gets celebrated differently in different parts of the country. For e.g., Ganesh Chaturthi is big in western and south India, while Holi is big in the north. Chatt pooja and Durga pooja are huge in eastern India while Onam is big in the south.
With the FieldAssist Analytics app, sales leaders can get granular information to generate an optimized campaign at a geographical or even a retailer category level. Since the festive season begins roughly from August onwards in India, brands try to ensure their sales teams spend a higher number of retailing hours in the field in July-August, achieve higher range selling, and maintain focus on the ‘must-sell’ SKUs during Aug-December.
2. Ensuring Inventory Visibility with Zero Stock-Outs
For our customers, automation has made inventory transparent and has eliminated the possibility of a last-minute stock outage. Hemant Malik, divisional chief executive, the foods division, ITC Ltd, shared how the company is witnessing a strong uptick in demand, after two years of subdued festive demand due to pandemic-led restrictions. “ITC’s agile supply chains and extensive distribution network are fully geared to ensure availability of a wide range of products across staples, snacks, noodles, frozen snacks across channels,” Malik said.
Distributors and retailers also take the help of data analytics from the Online Distributor Mangement System to identify buying patterns among consumers and benefit from the special schemes that brands run during the season. Real-time insights give them visibility on inventory counts on particular SKUs to ensure they never have stock-outs during the festive rush.
The FieldAssist SFA also assists companies in identifying lacunae or red flags so they can take preemptive decisions. For e.g. last year if the fulfilment rate was low for a particular in-demand category, then the sales head knows that this year they must have their production, as well as logistics, sorted weeks before the delivery date to ensure timely fulfilment.
3. Adding Advanced Route Planning Capabilities
The biggest challenge during the peak season is to optimize planned and on-demand orders concurrently. A solution like the FieldAssist Beat-o-meter helps the sales team understand which outlets need more attention or revival to shore in the expected sales. Our brand partners use this feature to run special schemes and promotions to retain Active Outlets and convert Dormant Outlets to Active to achieve higher traction. Like our biggest namkeens customer did to record a 50% increase in the number of new outlets during the festive season.
Another challenge is the timely fulfilment of the received orders. During these weeks of hyper shopping, drivers are pushed to meet multiple delivery deadlines and requirements. A small delay in a few deliveries can negatively impact the whole day’s deliveries. Therefore, efficient route planning is essential to ensure that the distributors receive orders on time during peak seasons.
Our DMS and Rural DMS apps allow distributors to collate all direct orders as well as SFA orders into a single window, making it easier and faster for orders to flow to the company. With the Van Sales app, it becomes a breeze for companies to drive product assortment and improve drop size with the ‘Must Sell’ and “Fast Selling’ features.
4. Tracking Planogram and Share of Shelf To Maximise Festive Sales
During festivals, all brands go all out to catch the eye of the customer and entice them with exciting offers and discounts. To make sure their brand literally shines on the shelf, sales managers need an effective planogram to execute their store layout strategies. Mid-managers can compare the sales and space analysis report generated by planograms to know how much sales a product brings compared to the shelf space it takes up.
With FieldAssist MODmart, our customers get sharp visibility on the regular availability of key products /categories or new product launches on every shelf and get stock-out alerts for immediate action. The app also ensures that designated SKUs are available at specified outlets for maximum off-take.
Festive season comes with lot of excitement but its normally assumed to be tizzy for the sales teams because of all the planning and prepping they had to do. Today a top-drawer technology platform can completely transform the route-to-market capabilities of CPG companies, especially during the festival madness.
You too can relax, sit back and watch our platform works hard to help your team have a bumper festive season! Reach us.