MUMBAI: Facebook is reported to be launching an online shopping event at the end of next month as it looks to exploit the continued growth of this channel in India.

The Tied Together festival is slated for August 29, coinciding with Raksha Bandhan, the festival where brothers traditionally give gifts to their sisters and promise to protect them.

The social media giant may be later than its rivals in entering this market – Google launched its Great Online Shopping Festival in December 2012 – but its user numbers have grown substantially in the past couple of years.

The Economic Times revealed that Facebook is working with GroupM, the media agency, to set up a website and would be using its 110m-strong subscriber base and social networking platform to drive traffic to the shopping site.

While ecommerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart are able to host online festivals on their own websites, companies like Google and Facebook need to create a new one to host a shopping festival, a media planner pointed out.

"The idea is to create online intellectual properties and to make them annual events," he explained.

The autumn festival of Diwali has traditionally been a time for buying expensive items when many categories have offered deals, but this tradition is under threat from the everyday discounting of online retailers and the emergence of new online shopping events such as Tied Together.

Aakriti Goel, senior planning manager at Grey Group India, has drawn attention to the changing nature of Indian festivals, which are increasingly absorbing global influences in line with other areas of Indian society.

Navratras, for example, is now less about dedicating nine nights to celebrating the divine Goddess than about nine nights of partying.

She suggested there are opportunities for brands, both international and local, to tap into these developments and "own" a festival rather than simply following the usual route of sales days.

In addition to the discounts they will need to offer on such days, they will also have to pay the likes of Facebook and Google which will charge a fee for sponsoring festivals such as Tied Together and the Great Online Shopping Festival

"For media agencies that associate with such events there are no immediate financial returns and it is a long-term plan," one planner observed.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff