Home / News / India /  Brands to go slow on Kumbh Mela 2021

Known for frenetic marketing exercise and outreach efforts by brands, the 2021 edition of the Kumbh mela will see a muted participation by companies owing to restricted footfalls and smaller venue.

Being held in Haridwar, according to media buyers' estimates, Kumbh is expected to see both devotee footfall and media spends come down to 50-60% of the previous pre-corona edition of the religious carnival held at Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh at a much bigger scale in 2019.

"The interest of brands to invest in marketing promotions during Kumbh Mela has definitely gone down with media spends expected to be impacted by over 50%, said Shekhar Banerjee, chief client officer and head (west) at media agency Wavemaker India.

"Brands are still in the recovery mode therefore there will be a trade off in terms of above-the-line (ATL) and below-the-line (BTL) investments depending on best return on investments (RoI). Sampling remains one of the biggest focus areas for brands at Kumbh Mela. I expect sanitisers and mask brands to leverage this edition of Kumbh in a big way," he added.

Rajesh Radhakrishnan, CMO at Vritti Solutions, a BTL and outdoor advertising agency said that both in terms of crowds and the spends companies are earmarking for the event--it could be 60-70% of the Prayagraj Kumbh. However, brands with a strong rural focus are likely to plan greater participation.

“Brands focused on small-town and rural India, would not miss Kumbh. It’s one of the largest congregations—brands have a lot of purpose to achieve at Kumbh as it is one of the most sought-after property when it comes to rural," he said.

This year especially extensive rural migration has helped markets in India’s hinterland perform well for large consumer goods companies. For fast moving consumer goods makers such as Marico, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Jyothy Labs etc rural markets continue to grow at a much faster clip than urban.

Brands, this year, may not invest very heavily just on below the line or on-ground activations, but look at a combination of BTL and digital. Digital could be used to amplify campaigns, said Radhakrishnan.

A section of brands said that they are going with on-ground activations as the religious property remains relevant to connect with consumers especially from smaller towns on a one-on-one basis.

A Kumbh Mela regular, fast moving consumer goods firm Dabur India, for instance, has planned multiple campaigns this year. It will set up Dabur Red Paste Dant Snan Zone inside the mela premises to help spread the message of oral hygiene amongst the lakhs of devotees using a unique toothpaste dispenser. In partnership with the mela organizers, the company has planned a unique campaign with Dabur Amla Hair Oil to help lost children and elderly to reunite with their families by issuing unique identity tags to both the parties while entering the mela grounds. Devotees will also be given Dabur Amla branded face masks and women will get the facility of portable changing rooms called ‘Lajja Kavach’ at the ghat area.

"At Dabur, we feel direct engagement with consumers during such traditional melas and haats helps us strengthen our bond with consumers. They in turn get the opportunity to touch, feel and experience our products. However, given the covid situation, we will ensure we follow all the government mandated protocols pertaining to safety, hygiene, social distancing and all other prescribed precautions," said Rajat Mathur, head-consumer marketing, Dabur India Ltd.

Footwear company Bata India said that it will be setting up Bata Store on Wheels across different locations to ensure the availability of comfortable range of sneakers, casuals and sandals for pilgrims.

"Our staff at these mobile stores has undergone extensive training and are equipped to follow all Covid-related safety protocols like sanitization, wearing masks and offering digital payments for the safety and convenience of the pilgrims," said a Bata spokesperson.

An ITC spokesperson did not reply to e-mailed queries.

Meanwhile, automobile dealers said that since the Kumbh period is not known for big ticket purchases as not much discount schemes are offered during this period.

"For entry level two- wheelers some initiatives are being taken at a sub-dealer level. But that doesn't yield much in terms of sales. This year, discounts are less since vehicle prices have gone up due to new emission and safety regulations. Additionally, none of the automakers are financially in a position to offer deep discounts," said a two and four-wheeler dealer requesting anonymity.

(Malyaban Ghosh contributed to this story)

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