Last month, an advertisement caught my attention. It showed a couple deliberating on a new purchase for their house. Girl asks guy if they should buy a brand new table for the living room, to which the guy instinctively responds by asking how long away Diwali was and wouldn’t it be prudent to wait till then in order to get the best deal. Angry, the girl gives him dirty looks, obviously pissed off at the guy’s lack of urgency and alleged cheapness.
But there’s a deeper lesson here – haven’t we all put off our prized gadget purchases until Diwali on more than a few occasions? Our naive heart wants to cling onto eternal hope that sellers will open the floodgates of bottled up benevolence for a five-day festival associated with wanton money spending? That they’d all truly offer us a discount that’s worth the many month-long wait?
Pfft! Come on, give me a break.
There was a time not too long ago where entire households used to postpone buying anything until Diwali – from new clothes to school bags, washing machine, home appliance to furniture – in perennial hope of saving a buck. When I was little, beyond the auspiciousness of gold purchase, I used to often question the absurdity of divine providence that made people postpone their mundane shopping to one heralded week of the year. Later I realized how Diwali and Shopping coalesced as part of an ingenious industry-wide marketing ploy, forcing people to buy without them realizing it. All this for what? Saving a few bucks here and there? Are we all really that money-conscious? Doesn’t relevance, timely need, convenience and trust matter?
Maybe this tradition of holiday shopping spree was a lot more resonant in the pre-online era, where Diwali discounts actually mattered. Like the American tradition of Black Friday-inspired buying spree, where people actually lined up outside brick and mortar stores, hoping to get in early and have the chance to score the sweetest deals. But even Black Friday isn’t the biggest consumer retail spending day in America anymore, with the rise of e-commerce and daily discount culture. And for similar reasons, Diwali shouldn’t be the only time of the year you decide to spend big on gadgets or tech product purchases, because the bang that Diwali shopping bonanza makes has been diminishing with each passing year.
It’s 2016 and e-commerce is an accepted reality of our lives. Digital natives don’t suffer from the burden of tradition the same way elders in their families do. Individualised buying and spur-of-the-moment purchase trends are rising across all consumer goods verticals in our country, including tech. People don’t want to wait, they want everything instantly – I’m guilty of similar tendencies whenever I see something enticing on an e-commerce portal or when I place an order and keep checking its delivery details every single day. Less and less people are willing to wait for Diwali to come around so they could save money on purchases.
But Diwali shopping continues to be a force to be reckoned with, and even e-commerce portals bend over backwards to entice customers. While most discounts do seem attractive, make sure you don’t lose your head in the heat of the moment and make ill-informed buying decisions. For unbelievable Diwali discounts often come with unbelievable asterisk-marked ‘conditions apply’ disclaimers in barely legible font size. Don’t get swayed in, always be sceptical.
Having said that, online shopping keeps getting bigger every year, which means every month is pretty much Diwali from the customer’s perspective. Eager to woo customers by offering them the latest and greatest tech gadget and appliance, e-commerce portals leave no stone left unturned to have exclusive product deals, pre-orders, flash sales, end-of-season sales, clearance sale, app-only discounts, lucrative giveaways, additional discounts on preferred credit card purchases, week-long discounts on certain category of products, and much more, to keep customers salivating for more. Always, all the time. Everything our heart ever desired ordered with a few clicks. Done. No time to waste, right?
Therefore, why wait till Diwali?
This article was first published in October 2016 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit's articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit e-magazine app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit's previous issues here.