The Mela Melee: why advertisers should fight for attention at India’s traditional gatherings
September 16, 2011 2 Comments
In India, festivals mean celebration, gatherings ….and discounts! In a country where close to 222 festivals are annually celebrated, marketers and advertisers find themselves a mélange of opportunities to introduce innovative marketing schemes to reconnect with customers and lure them to spend that extra buck. The same festive cheer reverberates throughout India in the form of melas which are popular cultural gatherings held across the country trypically during harvest seasons or to mark the significance of festivals which present an equally lucrative option to advertisers to penetrate the rural market.
The rural melas attract crowds from all across the country and are a very ancient part of the Indian Heritage. As with urban events, these melas require little or no publicity as they are associated with a religious festival and are form of expression of celebration for the villager who is emotionally driven to attend the event. Most fairs are expressions of local need to celebrate. A villager, who has attended a mela since his childhood looks forward to it months in advance. A majority of the melas are held during October-November and January-April. This coincides with the Kharif and Rabi harvests when the farmer’s purchasing power is high. With both money and leisure at hand, he is inclined to indulge his family with a day out at the mela. He also looks forward to updating himself on the latest farming practices and on consumer goods. Visitors to fairs are thus highly receptive to try out new products and also come with enough money to do so.
According to the research done by Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) around 25,000 melas are held in rural India every year and can last from anywhere between one day to 45 days. Among the most famous melas is the mighty Kumbh Mela at Allahabad (Triveni Sangam), Pushkar mela in Rajasthan, Kullu Dusshera mela in Himachala Pradesh, Sonepur mela in Bihar, Makar Vilakku in Kerala and Pandharpur Yatra in Maharashtra. Drawing close to 7.6 lakh visitors, with daily spends of Rs. 5000 to Rs. 50,000 a day these melas present the perfect battleground for brands to fight for consumer recall and sales.
As the purse strings loosen in the rural consumer’s grip and they are faced with a variety of options, it becomes essential for brands to apply a unique methodology to leave their mark with the rural consumers. While event sponsorships, on ground activation and hoardings have been popular with advertisers, changing dynamics of the market will see advertisers look for technology based advertising options which are cost effective and suited to cater to the advertisers needs. It will be interesting to observe how rural event management as a specialty will gain importance in the coming years and the strategy that will be adopted by advertisers to emerge winners of the Mela Melee.