Coming back from dismal sales last year and coping with factors such as the risk of rain and growing costs, cracker dealers this year have turned to the age old trade trump card of freebies to woo customers. Incentivising the products with surprise prizes and gifts focused at maximising sales on costlier merchandises, dealers say that more focus has gone into packaging the products to make sure they are imbued with the flavour of Deepavali this time around.
Many dealers across the city say that this year’s sales have been crisp and considerably better than last year. The weekend crowd at the city’s premier firecracker destination stood testimony to this, say dealers.
“This year’s run-up to Deepavali has been met with stiff problems for many dealers especially the ones with stalls on Island Grounds. A number of concerns such as the HC ruling restricting sales to only Island Grounds for several dealers along the NSC Bose Road and Parrys, the looming threat of rains and concerns of poor preparations on the Island Grounds have seriously affected their livelihood,” says Balakumaran, a dealer.
Sales this year have been focused on freebies such as toys for kids, vessels, utensils and other useful and Deepavali-themed items along with crackers. This has got customers excited, say dealers. A measure of the innovative sales tactics used by dealers is evident from the fact that on purchase of certain colour-based crackers, customers can avail of 3D glasses.
“The idea is to maximise the Deepavali experience for buyers. Through the 3D glasses, which are a new addition this year, customers can avail the night time cracker bursting experience even during day time and the colours too are brighter,” explains Saravanan, a city-based cracker dealer.
This year, like in the past few years, aerial crackers have scored big among buyers. Dealers say that the trend this year seems to be ‘lighter on the ears and brighter on the eyes’. Shantaram, a dealer from Ashok Nagar says, “For the past few years, cracker sales have stagnated, that is why manufacturers have attempted to provide new age buyers with a different experience. Another popular product are the aerial shots that create animated cartoon characters in the sky. These are popular in foreign countries and they are what the younger generation want.”
The story in suburban areas however, is a different one. Ashok, a seller from Tambaram says, “Getting a cracker licence in the suburbs has been tough this year. The authorities have tightened the norms. We undergo scrutiny from the municipality, fire department and the police before we get a licence and many have failed to obtain a licence this year which has seriously affected livelihoods.”
Another new trend this year is the fact that cracker sales have also invaded the virtual world with a number of manufacturers such as Standard and Peacock opening their own internet sales portals. A representative of Standard fireworks said, “Internet sales have been very good this year and the best thing is that the investment is negligible in setting up internet portals when compared to conventional stalls. The tech savvy youth have really taken to this innovation and have welcomed it.”