Gul Bagh cushions from Good Earth feature colourful sprays of flowers. Prices start at Rs 3,800

How Covid-19 has changed the tradition of gifting this festive season

Customary gifting has yielded space to home appliances, wellness products and hi-tech gizmos which make the bulk of presents one buys for oneself and for others

Namrata Kohli | New Delhi

It’s that time of the year when people fast and feast, give and get, spend and splurge. However, Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the world as we know it. People are living differently, buying differently and in many ways, thinking differently. Where are the people spending and what is on offer?

Says Arvind Singhal, Chairman & Managing Director, Technopak Advisors: “There are two kinds of gifting during the festive period–one is gifting for the self, or personal consumption driven purely by functional needs. The other is Diwali-oriented gifting for friends and family. During the past six months, thanks to the Covid-induced lockdown, people have preponed purchases of big-ticket items and have upgraded their home appliances to buy a better refrigerator, air conditioner or dishwasher. If they haven’t spent so far, they may plan a purchase now. The second category will put the thrust on home essentials such as kitchen appliances, bed linen, cooking and tableware. Home and health will be the star categories and some new food hamper ideas will surface over conventional sweets and savories.”

Large appliances

Brands have been launching bigger and better versions of their appliances. Lloyd, for instance, recently launched a 587-litre refrigerator and a 65-inch LED, the largest in the market. Priced at Rs 84,990, the side-by-side refrigerator caters to the underlying need of more storage as people work, live, cook out of home, whereas the standard 190-litre fridge costs Rs 10,000. In the television range, while the 80-cm (32-inch) costs around Rs 15,000, the recent 1.64-metre (65-inch) Lloyd ULED model is one of the biggest screen sizes in the market, available for Rs 2.4 lakh with enhanced video, sound, image quality of televisions, and a theatre-like experience at home.

Anything that adds on to efficiency in one’s lifestyle at home and makes it self-sustaining, is available in online and offline stores. The top products include washing machine brands such as Samsung 6.5-kg fully-automatic top load, new range of Bosch front loads, LG 6.5-kg fully-automatic top load as per Amazon India’s latest data which also reveals that vacuum cleaners grew 12X, water purifiers 2X. Washing machines are available in bigger capacities of 9-10 kg (as against standard 6-6.5 kg), with bestselling models such as Samsung, Siemens, Bosch even going out of stock.

As customers look for ways to D-I-Y (Do it Yourself), one category that is gaining traction in the new normal is dishwashers. Says a Voltas spokesperson: “We have been witnessing exponential growth in this category since March 2020, especially in the urban markets. We are mindful of market sentiment as consumers are looking at more value offerings and not mere discounts. We are offering dishwashers with differentiated features such as the dirt sensor, aqua-intense and corner-intense technology that effectively washes heavily soiled utensil, typical to the cooking and food habits of the Indian consumers.”

Whirlpool has especially curated festive sales on its e-commerce portal where consumers get up to 40 per cent off on refrigerators, washing machines, microwaves, air conditioners and water purifiers.


People have been buying smartphones in the Covid period, and this trend continues unabated, with bestsellers being iPhone 11, Redmi Note Series, Redmi 9A, OnePlus 8T, OnePlus Nord and Samsung M31 Prime Edition. While smartphones range from Rs 4,800-90,000, advanced versions are available between 30,000-40,000 under a ‘limited time deal’. What’s new are a set of new launches such as OnePlus 8T, Samsung M31 Prime Edition, OnePlus Nord (Gray Ash). In fact, total iPhones sold on Amazon India on Day-1 of their festive sale has been more than the total iPhones sold in the entire festive sale period of last year.

Says an Amazon India Spokesperson: “Smartphones, laptops, headphones, tablets, cameras and smartwatches are popular. We have scaled selection on security cameras, gaming laptops and drones with brands that include Mi, Lenovo, Dell, HP, Boat and Canon.” With rising interest in photography, their Nano Drone Cameras from DJI (12X from BAU) & Vlogging Cameras from Sony (10X over BAU), smart security cameras (Alexa-enabled) witnessed 30X units growth. Work-from-home and Vlogging essentials such as lapel, podcasting and shotgun microphones grew 118 per cent by volume. Leading brands in this segment include Maono, AKG and Sennheiser.

What are the most innovative tech products this Diwali? Giving the lowdown on much-awaited products for shopping this Diwali, Divyateja Kondeti, Co-founder and CEO, SmartDEN says, “I anticipate Philips HUE Smart Lights to generate demand this Diwali. Also the Apple watch series 6, which can detect oxygen levels is the most innovative product of 2020 to own. Besides for gamers it’s Playstation 5 and Samsung Fold mobile phone.”

Wireless audio technology is another big area where there is significant demand and supply. “The best audio technology brands cannot be considered without Apple and the company just announced Home Pod Mini for Rs 9,999 that will be available from November 16,” says Kondeti. “Another is JBL from truly wireless earbuds to 9.1 Dolby Atmos soundbar with woofer priced at Rs 75,000 and B&O (Bang & Olufsen) known for audio quality at Rs 24,900.”

Home, hobbies, health

There is a fair amount of demand for household goods and stuff to decorate the home. Says Rajnish Wahi of Snapdeal: “Decorative pieces, wall clocks, bedsheets, casserole sets, glass sets and kitchen wares are eliciting demand as people spend more time at home. Besides the festivities, it’s also the change of season to winter and people are buying quilts. Even planters and gardening tools are seeing uptake.”

Hobbies are a big gift idea and gardening is finding favour like never before. Ditching the usual flowers, sweets and savouries, Ferns N Petals is offering plant hampers for festive gifting in a price range from Rs 399 to Rs 2,800. Says Manish Saini, COO, e-commerce, Ferns N Petals, “People have become health conscious due to the pandemic and we have a range of 400-plus indoor plants in designer pots available in combination with gold plated coins, ethnic diyaas, candle holders, dry fruits, etc. Besides, we have launched health hampers consisting of immunity-boosting kits and savouries, health supplements in a price range of Rs 399 to Rs 5,000.”

Hobby related musical instruments such as portable keyboards grew 85 per cent by volume, compared to the first two days of last year’s sale at Amazon India. Casio’s mini keyboards and Indian keyboards were the biggest sellers. Says Kulbhushan Seth, Vice President, Casio India: “When it comes to music aficionados, we have the most sought-after keyboards, meant for young and old alike. We have a mega festive sale live on Casio India shop, across all channel partners and exclusive Casio stores with offers up to 40 per cent off.”

Fitness products are also on offer as customers look for ways to keep themselves healthy with most sold products being treadmills, dumb bells, exercise weights. In furniture, Work From Home chairs and desks, mattress in a box, solid wood beds and dining sets are available.

Its return of ancient wisdom in the kitchen, as people reclaim their love for metals such as brass, steel, copper. Premium serveware such as Good Earth’s copper jugs or Chumbak’s steel glass and jug set are finding a place in elite households. Says a spokesperson from Good Earth, “Consumers are re-evaluating priorities with mindful lifestyle choices that include opting for things that are natural, sensitively designed and preferably created by hand. Therefore, there is a demand for sustainable materials such as brass and copper in the kitchen due to its therapeutic properties. The Kansa collection draws from the Indian tradition of eating in ‘thaalis’ for a meal that is nutritionally balanced and portion-controlled by design. The serving bowls that can be used to store leftovers from your table, further the alkalinising benefits. Ayurveda recommends that water be stored in a pure copper jug for optimum health benefits like boosting immunity.”

Bed and bath hampers remain a popular Diwali gifting option. Bed linen in floral designs are available at Good Earth’s festive collection 2020 Puspanjali. According to Anita Lal, founder Good Earth- “At a time when so many of us are housebound, flowers in every form uplift the spirit and they are a delightful reminder of the joys of nature. Flowers are intrinsically seeped into the traditions of the Indian subcontinent.”

Handpainted, hand block printed and handmade décor objects are buzzing in the market. Even waste to wealth products such as papier-mâché décor and artistic trays with work such as Naqashi on them are being valued.

Counter-top appliances are a big segment this Diwali as home cooking becomes all important. Kitchen is abuzz with ideas of simplifying the pre-cooking chores with a whole range of items such as the dough kneader, whisker, beater, chopper, grater, sausage maker, juicer, mixer and blender are available such as Hafele Klara and Viola Kitchen Machines is for Rs 47,590. Slow blenders, cold pressed juicers, that retain micronutrients such as Magnus Cold Pressed Juicer or electric toaster like Amber Electric Toaster Machine which have seven browning levels are finding a new audience in the new normal.

Food hampers are seeing a radical change. Says Arvind Singhal, “Because of Covid induced lockdown, a significant number of product launches have happened in the last six months in ready-to-eat, ready-to-cook, some healthy, may be not so healthy but different from the conventional sweets and namkeens. Food hampers will see an uptake.” Permutations and combinations of superfoods such as ginger, ashwagandha, moringa, saffron are perking up the food segment, apart from exotic variants of dry fruits. For instance, Vadham has just launched turmeric tea tales and turmeric classic latte mix, hampers which break the chain of regular sweet boxes, with a claim to boost immunity.

For those looking for affordable options in gifting, Vistaprint offers a set of mugs, calendars, pens, photo albums with range starting from Rs 150 onwards. Says Bharath Sastry, CEO of Vistaprint India: “We have a wide range of products that can be used for Diwali gifting, and the ‘sparkle’ is the personalisation that we provide.”

Clean beauty hampers

“Back to nature” and “total well-being” trends are creating a demand for organic and natural products. Bundling a set of such products like red onion hair oil, apple cider vinegar organic shampoo is popular this Diwali and these beauty hampers come in a price range of Rs 700-7,000. Says beauty business entrepreneur Sahil Mehta, founder Emmbros Overseas who has St Botanica product range: “There has been a definite shift towards “natural” products that are free from mineral oil, parabens, sulphates, and synthetic colours. People are voluntarily looking for sustainable products for daily skincare and haircare routine.”

Body Shop has a range of skin, bath and body, hair, makeup and fragrances with festive hampers starting from Rs 695 such as British Rose, Strawberry and Banana hampers. Says Antara Kundu, Marketing Head, The Body Shop Asia South, “This year, more than any other, has taught us the importance of good health, of human connection and all our new launches are about holistic health such as our latest 100 per cent vegan collection.”

Kiko Milano has also come up with a line of makeup products, skincare treatments with only natural ingredients. Even the packaging comes in ecological paper, that is 30 per cent derived from organic residues. Juicy Chemistry has just launched organic sunscreen, burdock root hair rinse, prickly pear and sea buckthorn cleansing balm, pricing the products in the Rs 200-2,100 range.

Summing up: The spending sentiment

The general sentiment this festive season is one of cautious spending. People have been forced to prepone certain big ticket and other miscellaneous purchases be it related to consumer goods, WFH furniture or gadgets. Says Snapdeals’ spokesperson – “Overall, people will be conservative as they don’t want to overspend, what with uncertainty over the pandemic and economic headwind. They are going for value-based offerings.”

According to Technopak’s Arvind Singhal, “When you see destruction or decimation of incomes then in such cases even if you have the desire to spend money but where is the money going to come from. The saving grace is that in the last 6-7 months, a lot of usual expenditure has not been incurred (for example travel, fuel, commute). So, a bit more personal income available than may have been in the normal course. The trend of revenge buying, however, doesn’t work in India.” He says the share of e-commerce is still less than 3% and people will patronize traditional markets.

Overall, people are reprioritising their purchases and buying mostly whatever is need-based. However premiumisation is happening in segments that promote D-I-Y culture as consumers look for ways to simplify their life at home. If they are convinced about the value a product offers and feel it is worth a higher price tag, they opt for a high-quality variant.

Table: Festive gifting ideas

Product Price range (Rs)

Dishwasher (Siemens, Faber, LG, Whirlpool, Bosch)

Vacuum Cleaner (Dyson, Eureka Forbes, Milagrow, Roomba) 19,900-1,49,000
TV LED (Samsung, LG, Sony, Lloyd) 15,000-2,40,000
Refrigerator (Voltas, Whirlpool) 11,400 (single door) to 1,00,000 (three door)

Washing Machine (Bosch, Samsung, Toshiba, LG, Siemens- 6-10 kg capacity)

Premium Microwave (Samsung, IFB, Panasonic) 15,500-33,000

WFH Furniture Ergonomic Chairs

WFH Furniture Study Table 8,500-45,000
Smartphones 4,800-90,000
Bed Linen- Bedsheets, Cushions, Quilted bedcovers 1,500-7,500
Premium Serve ware Steel, Glass, Copper (Good Earth, Chumbak, Fab India, Westside, Home Centre) 2,500-5,500
Premium Wireless Audio Technology (JBL, Apple, B&O) 9,999-75,000
Fitness Equipment (Mats, Kettlebells, dumb bells, Tubes) 700-7,000

Gardening Tools & Planters (Ferns & Petals, Green Gardenia, Kraft, TrustBasket)

Food Hampers (Food Library, Haldiram, Sattviko ) 350-3,500
Organic and Natural skin, head, body care hampers (Forest Essentials, Kama Ayurveda, Khadi, The Body Shop, Biotique) 950-4,500

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