Culturally Relevant Marketing for Diwali
First, what exactly is Diwali?
Diwali, or Deepavali, is known as the festival of lights or celebration of light over darkness. It is celebrated worldwide, largely by Hindus followed by Jains and Buddhists. To celebrate, people throw parties, light their homes with candles or diyas, set fireworks or sparklers, make art with sand called rangoli, and many other traditions and rituals like clean homes and meditate.
Recently, with the growth of South Asian spending power in America along with the steady increase of South Asian immigrants, more American brands are launching Diwali campaigns and products in hopes of catching the eye of South Asian Americans. However, authentic and respectful marketing is imperative to that boost in revenue, and here’s how to do it.
For brands hoping to market products for Diwali, authenticity and relevance is key. Labelling products with a “Diwali collection” sticker is simply not enough for brands today. For instance, the concept behind this Edible Arrangements product would be ideal for anyone looking to gift something to one who celebrates Diwali; however, the product doesn’t draw on any traditional or authentic Diwali elements and doesn’t differentiate itself from other product offerings on the Edible Arrangements website.
Brands must carry out proper research on the holiday and the rituals surrounding it in order to authentically market it. This can be seen through highlighting other languages, traditional clothing, or rituals that allow for a genuine portrayal of the holiday and your product’s significance to it. For example, this commercial by British Airways uses Hindi familial names with English captions as well as portrays an authentically Diwali-decorated home exterior. These small details allow for South Asians to see themselves in advertisements and connect with the marketing, and ultimately a brand.
A great option to ensure a meaningful launch is collaborating or partnering with South Asians. For example, Ananya Panday’s 2023 Diwali Capsule with Jimmy Choo exemplifies the benefits of a popular designer brand choosing to collaborate with a South Asian actor. The collection features a variety of products such as handbags and shoes in colors known to suit brown skin tones, with fun names relating to the holiday and traditional South Asian terms. This collection showcases what Diwali means to Panday and is a great example of how collaboration can significantly improve a campaign and its authenticity.
Respect and true inclusivity
Making sure that a brand has researched what Diwali means, the traditions surrounding it, and its significance, is critical to authentic marketing. Additionally, not shying away from highlighting other languages, traditional clothing, or rituals allow for a genuine portrayal of the holiday and your product’s significance to it. For example, this commercial by British Airways uses Hindi familial names with English captions as well as portrays an authentically Diwali-decorated home exterior. These small details allow for South Asians to see themselves in advertisements and connect with the marketing, and ultimately a brand.
So what are some examples?
This campaign by Lego offers “Diwali sets,” which are marketed as the perfect gift for Diwali. Though they are mostly generic Lego creations, the brand did do something unique with a tutorial for making one’s own “Lego rangoli” at home with pieces people are likely to already have. This stands out as it highlights a well-loved Diwali tradition, is in line with the brand's values of creativity and play, and is an active effort to make an activity truly accessible in a very genuine way.
Kitchenware brand Our Place, known for their “Always Pan,” released a Diwali collection that featured glassware, dishes, mugs, and a limited edition “fry set” that included kitchenware specifically used for making fried dishes like samosas and jalebis. Additionally, they released three limited edition colors which they dubbed saffron, coriander, and turmeric. A product like the “fry set” enables further accessibility for those who cook South Asian food and may not always find what they need in a regular kitchenware store. The newly released colors, though one could argue unnecessary, also adds a touch of nostalgia and acknowledgment that showcases the brand’s attention to detail. The seasonal “limited edition” products also allow for additional benefits for the brand.
Tesco, a popular European supermarket store chain, released a limited edition Diwali range that included traditional sweets, chocolates, nuts, fruits, and other ready-made treats. This is a great example of a brand that is knowledgeable about traditional Indian food and has genuinely helpful products to those throwing Diwali celebrations and want to pick up food, enabling further accessibility.
Though these are some examples of bigger brands, shopping small businesses, particularly South Asian businesses, are important to support during the holiday season and can offer authentic and hand-made products. Etsy is a great option for supporting small businesses.