- Sara Chandran
It's time for brands to see the light at Deepavali
All of the lights
Deepavali* is the most wonderful time of the year for me as a Hindu. I love how the streets where I grew up light up, the music blares and the sky explodes into an array of colours. It’s when the community comes together to celebrate one of the most beautiful occasions in the Hindu calendar - the festival of lights.
Deepavali is also celebrated by Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. Around 1 million people join in the festival in the UK, with Leicester being famously one of the biggest outside of India.
*Deepavali is the South Indian and Malaysian Tamil word I grew up with for the festival
Counting down the days
As I write this, I keep thinking about all the curry I’m preparing to eat, the words I’ll write in sparklers and the sugar rush I’ll be getting after hitting the ladoos. However, I can’t help but notice the lack of brands posting on social media about the festival and even those that do, it’s extremely underwhelming.
Queue the potato promotion...
I’m half Irish, so I love potatoes BUT there’s more to the festival of lights than spuds. We redecorate our homes, buy spectacular dresses, purchase gold jewellery and even get a brand new car if we’re feeling fancy. British Hindu’s had the highest rate of economic activity in 2011 and according to the British Sikh Report 2014, the value of the Sikh Pound is £7.63bn. And whilst you could buy a lot of potatoes, when we celebrate good triumph over evil, potatoes are often at the bottom of the list of things to buy.
In fact, The Royal Mint’s Precious Metals team recently reported a rise in the demand for gold, which the brand said is likely due to the upcoming festival. With so many people taking part in the event, and with clearly a lot of buying power, brands are missing a trick when trying to understand an audience that is spending a lot of money and we are seeing money left on the table.
Festival of likes
Creating an image saying ‘Happy Diwali’ with the caption of the latest BOGOF promotion isn’t enough for second and third generation British Hindus who want to connect with their heritage, while making the most of their disposable income. Rather than simple messages and posters in the lead up to the festival, brands could do more to build authentic relationships with consumers from diverse backgrounds.
One of the best examples we’ve seen is Clinique, a high-end luxury beauty brand that partnered with the model Simran to organise a Deepavali breakfast. The brand brought Hindus and Sikhs together who are all making waves in their industry to celebrate as a community which is what Deepavali is all about.
Influencer relations was a clever way to put a modern spin on how we traditionally celebrate the festival, and it targeted an audience in an authentic and empowering way.
Sparking new ideas
Targeting a previously unreachable audience can be an overwhelming task for brands as it’s not always clear where to begin, and can often feel tokenistic or disingenuous. Planning and working together with culturally diverse teams, and agencies like ours can help bring greater awareness and unlock new audiences for brands to expand their commercial opportunities. This has been proven with Pride in London, with marketers and brands successfully tapping into the Pink Pound’s purchasing power of £6bn a year.
In doing so, you unlock the ‘difference dividend’ and drive revenues from minority groups previously overlooked by marketers. Engaging with this audience can pay dividends if done right, and there is a unique opportunity to do this with the communities that celebrate Deepavali every single year.