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The new sari sales pitch


How marketing the six yards through choreographed moves on Instagram Reels has helped homegrown brands widen their reach

Young women doing backflips, somersaults and hoop dancing, all while draped in a sari. Maybe not the most comfortable of garments, you say? Tell that to international yoga gold medallist Mili Sarkar, national gold medallist Parul Arora, and hoop dancer Eshna Kutty, whose videos went viral over the last few months as they showcased their skills in their six yards. Drawing from this trend, several homegrown brands are now promoting their products through ‘dance marketing’.

Interestingly, the people driving the phenomenon [across the brands we are featuring] have several things in common: a background in dance, working directly with artisans, selling handcrafted products, and roping in friends and family [for the most part] for the dance videos instead of professional models. The relatability of the videos have boosted sales, they say. Here are four brands leading the trend:

Indian Ethnic Co., Mumbai

Hetal Desai started the brand in 2016 but it was her daughter Lekhinee — the company’s co-founder and marketing head — who created their first dance marketing Instagram Reel last October. Featuring Lekhinee, her sister and their friends, the quartet [all of whom have learnt Odissi] danced to ‘Kangna Re’ from Paheli, wearing ajrakh Kota doria and mul saris. “The drapes [from the brand’s first sari collection] are so light and comfortable that you can do something as simple as walk in the park, or dance in them,” says Lekhinee, adding that the Reel got a million views. Another one, where they danced to ‘Main Albeli’ from Zubeidaa, was featured by Instagram’s official account on Women’s Day, and its views are about to hit 20 million, says the MBA graduate. While the brand’s turnover increased from ₹30 lakh in March to ₹65 lakh last June, this year, they have already done business close to ₹95 lakh. Lekhinee attributes the success to several things falling into place at the right time, one being the launch of Instagram Reels in 2020.

Details: theindianethnicco.com, @theindianethnicco

Geetanjali Boutique, Darbhanga

Dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Bihar’s Madhubani art through hand-painted products — saris, kurtas, home décor and the like — Sunanda Biswas runs the 26-year-old store with her daughter Geeti, and works with 100 women artisans. Geeti, an MBA graduate and Kathak dancer, had created a successful solo dance IGTV video during lockdown. “So when we were launching a sari collection [sourced from our weavers in Banaras] this January, I thought we should do it through dance marketing on Reels,” she says, because she felt people could relate more when they saw ‘real’ people dancing. Since then, she’s created two solo IGTV videos and two Reels featuring her friends who are dancers. “With there being so much saturation in digital marketing, people don’t want to look at photos. If it is dance or something in motion, it catches attention.” The engagement has led to more sales and more customers visiting their site, which launched last September.

Big brand speaking

  • “Taneira has always been keen to promote the various activities that women do while wearing a sari,” says Raghuvar Seth, Head of Marketing, Taneira, the Titan brand which sells handwoven saris sourced from over 65 weaving clusters around the country. “This new dance video trend is one of the instances where we see that there are no bounds to the woman of today doing what she wants to do,” he says, adding that they are “looking forward to collaborating with various dancers, who bring out the beauty of a sari with every move”.

Details: geetanjaliboutique.com,@geetanjali_boutique

Khoj City, Noida

An online platform that sells everything from handmade saris to stationery, two-year-old Khoj City was started to support artisans, says Sujata Adhikari, head of marketing. All products — their signature is hand-painted jewellery — are crafted in-house and artisans can also list their creations on the site.

While they have been doing marketing collaborations from the beginning, Adhikari says the brand started dance Instagram Reels recently. “People are more comfortable doing video content now. I have been dancing since my college days and I knew other dancers whom I roped in. And people engaged really well with the videos [sales went up by 15% to 20%],” she says, adding, “People have also shown interest in collaborating with us; we provide the product and they wear it and create the content. We have collaborated with singers, actors, yoga practitioners like Priyanka Moze and dancers like Deepika Das.”

Details: khoj.city, @ekhojcity

Kancheevaram, Kakkanad

Since 2018, this store has been retailing handwoven saris — block printed Jaipur cottons, kanjeevarams, Uppada saris from Andhra Pradesh, and more. “When it came to marketing, we wanted our audience to see something they could recognise. We usually don’t do high-profile photo shoots where there is no connection between the model, the products, and the audience,” says partner Shermeen Siyad, who has been experimenting with other marketing platforms too [includes contests and giveaways] They had done an IGTV video for Women’s Day two years ago that got around 15k views, so when Instagram launched Reels, they decided to give it a shot. “We have about 10 ‘dance marketing’ videos [with the most popular clocking nearly 70 lakh views], mostly featuring my friends and colleagues. We also collaborated with a Bengaluru-based singer, Geetanjali Kelath, who performed while wearing one of our Chanderi silks,” says Siyad, adding that sales have gone up by 20% to 30% thanks to the new marketing trend.

Details: @kancheevaram

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