Onam to fuel growth of Kerala’s retail market

Segments including e-commerce, real estate, the auto industry have seen a surge.

NEW DELHI: Onam celebrations in Kerala are about to begin and it is indeed a great time for brands and retailers to go big on promotional offers and campaigns. However, this year, the Covid2019 pandemic has brought the whole world to a standstill. The lockdown has impacted the brands, advertising and consumers spend alike. To talk about this and more, organised The Comeback of Kerala: Onam returns virtual conclave.

In the third session, panelists spoke on whether retail and local brands are ready to open and are consumers excited to spend. The panel was moderated by Star regional business EVP Ad Sales Dev Shenoy and the panel saw Seematti CEO Beena Kannan, Maitri Advertising Works (P) Ltd Raju Menon, MPlan Media CEO and founder Parag Masteh, Pittapillil agencies MD Peter Paul Pittapillil and Popular motors World Pvt Ltd CEO Sujith Chandran.

Shenoy asked the panelists about the challenges and consumer behaviour change due to the pandemic. To which Kannan said, “The challenges faced by retail business today is that the mobility is still stuck even with Unlock 3.0. The market is slow and customers are not willing to spend. Although the government is managing the pandemic well there needs to more awareness so that the customers' sentiments are unleashed. There is a lot of fear amongst the customers currently. If one follows all the norms by the government then customers can also come to the store and buy their favourite outfit.”

Kannan further added that due to the onset of festivities, they are expecting a 20-30 per cent growth.

“There are limitations for everyone, for everything. People are facing issues adjusting to the current conditions due the the pandemic,” Menon responded.

Consumers in Kerala spend significantly during Onam, especially on consumer durables. Talking about his outlook, Pittapillil said, “We used to get 35-40 per cent of retail during Onam season, but this year we are not expecting that kind of growth because of the current circumstances.  

Chandran said, “Due to COVID2019, a lot of tweaking has happened. Print has come down in the last three to four months, TV has also seen a drastic drop. Digital has been extensively used by the auto industry. But on digital platforms, we have seen a lot of conversations. Around 25-30 per cent leads are coming through digital.”

“In July, we have seen the auto industry come back to normal. Month-on-month, we have seen 20-30 per cent growth over the previous month and as of now, we have 18 per cent of retail value, the after-sale is almost 90 per cent. That’s the kind of traction we have been able to generate over the last few months. We are looking forward to Onam, during the festivity, as it gains momentum and traction,” he added.

Chandran also highlighted that consumers are looking for personal transport rather than a shared vehicle. Two-wheeler vehicles have seen a great surge during the pandemic. There has been an inclination for used cars as well as new cars.

To reach out to consumers, retailers are finding new ways. Kannan shared, “We are reaching out to them through TV or digital medium.”

Retailers are also providing help to their consumers with virtual shopping and home deliveries too.

Talking about whether advertisers should change their brand communications, Masteh said brands need to stick to their core values. “Many brands have realigned their communication to COVID2019 but brands need to stick to their core values. Lately, we are seeing healthcare brands who are using COVID2019 to sell their respective products.”

Have advertisers come back? According to Masteh, e-commerce is booming and gaining traction, especially consumer electronics. There is good momentum for the apparel segment too.

Whereas Menon says that real estate is showing movement. There is a higher level of demand for middle-level and lower-level flats.

“B2B and B2C sectors have seen a surge, the aggregators model is doing extremely well. The entertainment space has garnered heavily during these times,” Chandran emphasised.

The panelists concluded saying that they are expecting to bounce back in a span of four months and festivities will fuel the growth.

Follow Tellychakkar for the consumer facing news & entertainment

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