From Ramadan and Chinese New Year, to Singles’ Day and Songkran, each year brings multiple holidays, religious festivals, and events that give people cause for celebration — and a greater inclination to shop. In fact, transactions on Valentine’s Day soared by 74% in the last three years, with consumers in China and Taiwan willing to spend an average of almost US$300 each.
For advertisers, increased purchasing power around calendar events presents a prime opportunity to boost sales if they can capture consumer interest with targeted seasonal offers. And, thanks to the additional leisure time special events create, they can do so by leveraging the influence of both online and offline media.
TV reach across the Asia Pacific region is impressively high. India boasts more than 780 million viewers, and 94% and 85% of consumers in Indonesia and Vietnam respectively tune in daily. And TV viewing during holiday periods is even greater.
A higher proportion of leisure time means more hours at home with the family watching event-centric programming, fuelling engagement with digital and linear TV content. Analysis shows video consumption increases up to 15% in festive times, and broadcasters enjoy some of the strongest viewing figures globally. The Spring Festival Gala — a four-hour New Year variety show in China — draws in nearly 500 million viewers, making it the world’s most-watched television programme.
But it’s not just TV screens that seize consumer attention. Regional video consumption on digital devices, especially mobile, is the highest globally and set to increase rapidly. In 2017, there were 1.1 billion digital video viewers in the Asia Pacific region and revenue from over-the-top (OTT) viewing in the area is predicted to reach US$24.41 billion by 2022.
Online video audiences are already vast and during celebrations, when daily routines are altered, they become even larger. For instance, prime viewing time for those observing Ramadan will shift to sunset when fasting is broken, causing a spike in use of video-on demand (VOD) services: good news for advertisers who want to connect with specific demographics. Not to mention the fact consumers are highly receptive to ads served around VOD content.
As well as driving the need for entertainment, events bring an increase in spending on gifts for others and personal purchases. The average consumer in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia spends between US$800-$1900 over the Lunar New Year holiday season, for example, while total spending during Thailand’s Songkran was expected to exceed US$3 billion this year. Studies also show travel, charity, jewellery, clothing, and food expenditure spikes across Malaysia and Indonesia in the weeks before the end of Ramadan. Consequently, seasonal events not only enable advertisers to reach a more extensive viewing audience, but also one that is actively looking to spend.
The final question then, is how can advertisers use celebratory dates to their advantage?
First, advertisers must choose events carefully. Effective campaigns around seasonal events engage viewers by aligning with the themes and emotions related to the occasion, such as family and togetherness for New Year or Ramadan, and individuality and uniqueness for Singles’ Day. But brands must also stay true to their core values to create authentic associations with celebrations. Ad inventory prices rise during holiday periods so choosing a few events where symbolic themes align with the brand’s positioning is more effective than chasing every celebration and stretching both brand values and budgets too far.
Second, advertisers should consider the timing and frequency of campaigns. Short events such as Singles’ Day offer a small yet valuable window of opportunity – with last year’s event seeing retail sales grow 40% to reach a massive US$25.3 billion – but brands should launch TV and video campaigns at least a week before to build awareness.. They can then use programmatic technology to serve highly targeted ads with specific offers on the day itself or on other peak shopping days, such as 11th of February, identified as the optimal regional time for Valentine’s Day purchases.
For longer celebrations such as Chinese New Year or Ramadan, advertisers must be careful not to bombard consumers with repetitive ads.. Applying frequency caps and sequencing ads so they tell an evolving story that reflects key moments in the celebrations, such as popular dates for travel or family gatherings will engage viewers more deeply. To get their message heard first, advertisers could launch festive campaigns early; Nike released its Nike Kyrie 4 CNY sneaker ads a full month before this year’s Chinese New Year to ensure early association with the event.
Finally, advertisers should bear in mind the most effective holiday advertising extends the benefits of the campaign beyond the event itself, influencing purchase decisions in the long term. Ads need to be enjoyable with enough of a novelty factor for consumers to want to watch, share, and discuss in the short term, but deeper brand associations must be enduring enough to outlive the holiday season.
With holidays and events occurring on an annual basis, there are many dates advertisers should be saving in their diaries as key opportunities to reach audiences at scale and harness considerable spending. As long as they choose events that align with brand values, address the timing of campaigns, and ensure ads are engaging enough to create long term influence, advertisers will have cause to join the party, whatever they are celebrating.
Rashmi Paul is APAC commercial director at FreeWheel, the Comcast-owned company that helps brands and agencies access TV and digital video inventory and technology solutions.