Retailers Hoping for a Rewarding Onam this Year

Kochi: An old saying in Kerala, which sums up the significance of Onam festival in the life of Malayalis, literally translates as, ‘the Onam feast should be relished even if one were to sell one’s own land for it.’ This time also, the harvest festival will be celebrated by households all over Kerala in the highest spirit of festivities – as exhorted by the saying – despite torrential rains playing spoilsport, causing inundation of houses and untold misery in many parts of Kerala in the run-up to the festival.

With the complexities of GST simplified and the ‘demonentisation bomb’ defused, the retailers in Kerala hope for the revival of the market this Onam, fetching them bountiful returns

And for the retailers in Kerala, who were literally battered by the imposition of Goods and Services Tax (GST) last year and the effects of ‘demonetisation bomb’ the year before that, this Onam season is one which gives them hope of a revival by fetching them bountiful returns.

From automobiles to white goods to textiles to jewellery, every brand is hoping to achieve their Onam sales target this year as well.

LG Electronics India has launched its Onam promotion with the theme ‘Celebrating health and happiness’ in Kerala promising attractive offers ahead of the festival. This season, LG targets to do business worth Rs. 600 crore in Kerala.

“The ‘health and happiness’ promotion is also a reflection of our commitment to Kerala which has been a key market for us for the last 21 years,” said P Sudheer, Regional Business Head – Tamil Nadu and Kerala, LG Electronics India. Consumers can win 100 LG products through lucky draw on purchase of a select range. The other offers include ‘cash back’ through scratch-and-win and prizes worth Rs. 2.2 crore on buying a select range of products.

As part of the festival season, Tata Motors has rolled out a special festive offer for its customers in Kerala from July 17 onwards. The company also launched the latest AMT version of Tata Nexon XMA in its best-selling mid-variant. It is offering benefits up to Rs. 1,07,000 on select models. Special discounts of up to Rs. 5000 will also be offered to government and corporate employees across all dealerships in Kerala.

“Our plan is to double our network coverage from the current 38 sales touch points to 92 in the State,’’ said Mayank Pareek, President, Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors.

Sony India has announced promotional offers across its product categories. It has set itself an aggressive target of 35 per cent growth in BRAVIA television business in Kerala market from May to September, 2018. “With a wide range of innovative and premium products across categories, festive offers, easy finance schemes and promotional activities in Kerala, we are confident of making the Onam celebration a grand one for all our customers,” said Sunil Nayyar, MD, Sony India. Riding on the back of its premium product line-up, exciting festive offers, finance schemes and marketing promotion activities involving actor Manju Warrier, Sony plans to achieve Rs. 170-crore sales from July to September alone.

Godrej Appliances, one of India’s leading players in the home appliances segment, marked the beginning of the Onam festive season by launching a wide range of innovative and premium appliances, including washing machines, refrigerators, microwave ovens and chest freezers. The brand also gives an impetus to the upcoming festive celebrations through attractive offers under which Godrej customers stand a chance to win gold worth up to Rs. 1 lakh every day.

Over the past few years, Godrej Appliances has been focusing on premiumisation of its offers and now added another feather in its cap with the launch of yet another high-end refrigerator under its premium sub brand Godrej NXW. A whole new range of 11 models of microwave ovens were also launched, strengthening its portfolio in the category. In the washing machine segment, the new Allure series of Fully Automatic Top Load washing machines with a unique Roller Coaster Wash Technology was launched. The brand also announced the expansion of its chest freezer portfolio with the launch of ‘Freezer-Cooler Convert’ range that offers the flexibility to switch from freezer to cooler and back.

Sanjeev Jain, National Sales Head, Godrej Appliances, said: “Kerala contributes a large share of our revenue and continues to be an important market. With new launches and offers, we are confident of achieving 30 per cent growth (Rs. 200 crore) this Onam.”

Panasonic India – a leader in innovation and technology – has also announced special Onam offers for the Kerala market. Panasonic has set a revenue target of Rs. 250 crore this season, while also targeting a 31 per cent Y-o-Y growth in the State.

Ajay Seth, Head Channel Operations, Panasonic India said, “This Onam is extra special for Panasonic as we complete our centenary year in 2018. Kerala is very special for us and 8 per cent of the revenue comes from Kerala. We keep a tab on consumers’ preferred product choices which allow us to come out with curated offers that will help us not only achieve our target figure of Rs. 250 crore sales in Kerala but also add to the celebratory wave in the State.”

PROSPECTS LOOK BLEAK

However, sceptics feel many factors have dampened the spirit of the shopping season. “The market is in a bad shape, which is the reason why you see stores giving discounts right now, particularly on branded goods. Earlier, these discounts used to be for a maximum of 10 to 15 days, but now they are extending it for a full month. Ahead of Onam, dealers are attempting to clear old stocks so that some newer products can be showcased,” says Deepak L Aswani, Chairman & MD, Aswani Lachmandas Group and Co-Chair of FICCI Kerala Chapter.

With monsoon season coming to an end, life in flood-hit areas returning to normal and wedding season arriving ahead of Onam, the market is expected to witness a revival that favours retailers, he adds.

C E Chakunny, State President, All-Kerala Consumer Goods Distributors Association, however, painted a grim picture of the retail segment this festive season. “I have been in this field for the past 56 years and I have never seen the retail sector face such a crisis. Moreover, there is still lack of clarity regarding GST,” he said.

V Abdul Rasheed, Director, VKC, pointed out that the Kerala market has been far from vibrant in the past two years with people refraining from taking risks. Seasonal purchases have become unpredictable owing to the difficulties caused by the monsoon.

On the other hand, Jose J Ponnezhathu, MD, Panazan Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., Angel Agencies & Home Care Group, voiced a contrarian view. “Onam is early this time and customers are looking forward to make purchases since there is a double discount, both because of the reduced tax and the willingness of companies to give discounts. We are expecting a very good shopping season ahead. Compared to last year, there will be a definite growth, no doubt about it,” he said.