How retailers can launch an irresistible Holi special offer

9 min read
Brian Pereira

Holi is one of the most auspicious festivals celebrated throughout India. It brings different communities and family members together, and marks the formal end of the winter season and the coming of spring. But Holi is best known as the festival of colour, as Indians celebrate by throwing coloured powders and water-filled balloons on each other — all in the spirit of fun and cheer! Retailers (online and offline) respond by offering massive discounts through Holi special offers.

Create a buzz this Holi — follow these 4 tips

Whether you sell clothing, mobile phones, appliances or something else, start thinking now about how you may attract more people to your store in the days leading up to Holi. These tips might help:

  1. Festive look in advertisements.
  2. Use catchy local phrases in ‘Hinglish.’
  3. Store within a store.
  4. A page for Pooja items and Holi special gifts.

Before we explain how even small shops can carry out each of these strategies, let us look at how the retail giants approach the Holi season.

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How the retail giants do it

As we approach the festival of Holi, online retailers like Amazon and Flipkart as well as offline retailers like Big Bazaar book full-page ads in the local newspapers, announcing their Holi offers. Holi store

Last year, Amazon India set up a special ‘Holi Store’ on its website to offer discounts on smartphones (up to 40% off), summer appliances (50% off) and Holi-related 'Pooja items' (80% off).

In addition, Amazon India offered up to Rs 3,000 cashbacks if shoppers chose Amazon Pay as their payment mode and purchased Holi gift cards.

Flipkart Colours of Joy

Last Holi, Flipkart set up a Holi store and branded it ‘Colours of Joy.’ It offered up to 80% off plus 9 percent cashback under its ‘FreeKaaMaal’ cashback Holi special offer. The lucky few got 100% cashback through ‘FreeKaaMaal.’

The range of discounted merchandise included mobile phones, electronics, furniture, fashion and Holi gifts.

Big Bazaar

Holi Special People Amid Shower of Colour
Last year, Big Bazaar gamified their sale, luring shoppers with a fun challenge.
Photo: Dharmesh Patel on Unsplash

Big Bazaar decided to gamify the shopping experience. Under the Big Bazaar Holi Game Offer, the retail giant offered shoppers a free voucher for Rs 1,000.

To win a Rs. 1,000 voucher for this Holi offer, one had to play an easy game.

The game required shoppers to walk through a street and dodge coloured powder thrown at them! They also had to avoid the cars on the busy street.

The top 300 scorers won the gift voucher. Other participants got a special discount coupon of Rs 200 for their next purchase at Big Bazaar.

What you can offer in your online or offline store

You don’t need to be a giant like Amazon, Flipkart or Big Bazaar to use these techniques. Here’s how you can make your store more appealing to attract shoppers next Holi.

1. Festive look in advertisements

Your newspaper advertisements, web pages or decorations in your physical store should all have a festive look to reflect the colourful themes of Holi. The offers should be clearly visible, supported by clever catch phrases.

2. Use catchy local phrases in ‘Hinglish’

Most Indians use a mix of English and Hindi (Hinglish) when they speak. Regional languages are widely spoken in smaller towns. Using local words and phrases in your advertisements and banners — such as Holi Dhamaka, Paisa Vasool, Maast Offer—is sure to attract attention.

3. Store within a store

The large brands often want their own space within a store as they want to stand out in a crowded store.

It’s typical for some consumer electronics companies to have their own store pages on

This concept is also applicable to physical stores. For instance, Bose has a separate section for its products in Croma, a famous electronics store. And Yamaha has an enclosed listening room within the same store for its home theatre products. An appliance maker selling food processors will have a section in one corner of the store where salesmen give live demos of their products in action.

This concept works well in India, as Indian consumers like to interact with salesmen, touch the product and ask questions about features. Store owners can charge the manufacturer a premium for these exclusive storefronts.

To do this in a small shop, approach the manufacturers of your most popular products to see if they are willing to participate.

4. A page for Pooja items and Holi special gifts

As they prepare for the religious ceremonies that occur on the eve of Holi, some shoppers, especially senior citizens, look only for Pooja items. Make it easier for them to find these items, as they usually shop closer to the festival and have little time for shopping.

Set up a special page on your eCommerce website or create a Pooja section in your physical retail store.

Holi Special Pooja

Offer a lot of variety. For instance, incense sticks holders could be made of wood, plastic, brass or silver. Thalis could be made from stainless steel or pure silver and come in various sizes.

Some pricing strategies to follow

Indian shoppers are price-aware and seek value. Merchants use every trick in the book to make their customers feel they are getting a bargain or value.

Sales days

Hold special sales days you announce in advance through newspaper ads, signs or flyers. Special offers, discounts, bundling offers, cashbacks — all the pricing strategies we describe next — should be part of the shopping experience on sales days.

Create a special name for your sales day. For instance, Flipkart calls theirs ‘Big Billion Days.’

Cashbacks in partnership with banks

Cashback schemes are very popular in India and can result in a further price reduction on items. Retailers offer cashbacks on selective credit cards in partnership with banks. The credit card companies also pitch this as one of the benefits.

You will need to work out an arrangement for this with the bank well in advance.

EMI and financing options

Equated monthly installment (EMI) is a way to pay for items without feeling a drain on one’s finances.

This payment option is highly favoured by the salaried class.

Depending on the scheme, there may be a ‘zero down payment’ or the consumer will have to pay a small amount up-front. The financing is taken care of by a financing company like Bajaj Allianz or a bank. Zero interest financing makes this payment option more attractive.

Again, you will need to work directly with the financing company to plan in advance of the festival.

Discounts on popular items

Electronic items, especially mobile phones, are heavily discounted. While it may seem like the manufacturer will run at a loss because of heavy discounting, they can make it up by selling at high volumes.

Exchange schemes

Many multi-brand retail stores such as Vijay Sales have exchange schemes and a price reduction against the old item. They will send their van to pick up your old TV or refrigerator.

Exchange schemes are highly favoured by Indian housewives, especially for home appliances.

Retailers will need to work out an arrangement for this with the appliance manufacturer.

Coupon codes for discounts on partner apps

More Indians are buying smartphones and consuming services through apps. A few popular examples:

  • Food delivery services
  • Entertainment (movie tickets)
  • Cab aggregator
  • Mobile recharges

Retailers can partner with these app-driven services to offer scratch cards and coupon codes for discounts. This creates an incentive to shop at your store, rather than another. The key here is to partner with a company your customers favor.

Loyalty points

Retailers may offer loyalty cards and points to shoppers who frequent their stores. This comes with membership and loyalty benefits. Every time a purchase is made, a certain number of points are credited. Accumulated points can later be redeemed for price reductions.

This can be as simple as offering punch cards to shoppers with the offer of “Buy # and get the 10th free.” Every time they buy one of that item, you punch their card.

Bundling offers

Buy a TV and get a free soundbar. Buy a double toothpaste pack and get a free toothbrush.

This pricing strategy draws consumers to a particular brand, only because of the free item that’s bundled in. A free soundbar, for instance, is great value, as the consumer need not postpone the purchase of the soundbar — or spend extra on it.

The catch is, the price for the soundbar is absorbed in the cost of the TV, which is likely to be a premium brand!

Manufacturers also use bundling offers to introduce shoppers to other items that they make. For instance, a washing machine detergent maker might also bundle in a soap bar that they manufacture.

Think about how this might work with the products you sell. Are there any that go together?

Buy two get one free

This pricing strategy works really well for fast-moving consumer goods and for clothing items like shirts.

Holi Special Woman Looking at Clothing

For instance, a certain razor brand offers the fourth razor free, thereby selling three in one go. You’ll see five and six pack items in supermarkets.

It’s common to see offers for men’s shirts wherein the third shirt is free. These kinds of offers can also reduce a retailer’s daily inventory quickly — and help it sell more items for a particular brand.

Purchase commitment

Some multi-brand retailers like Pantaloons offer schemes wherein if you commit to spending a certain amount (say, Rs 6,000), then you would be entitled to a certain reduction on the final bill amount.

Such schemes work well for families who buy in bulk.

Indians usually shop for their entire family including their parents during their shopping trip, and their bill amounts often exceed Rs 5,000.

Craft your own Holi special this year

There’s a lot you can do to prepare your online or offline store for the Holi season. As you have read in this article, it’s all about projecting value and making the shopper feel that they got a good bargain.

It’s also about the shopping experience — make shopping fun for the whole family!

Get your customers into the festive mood, with your colourful ads, catchy slogans and of course, your irresistible Holi special offers.

Happy Holi festival!

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