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March 26, 2021 6:45 AM

Are pandemic-safe products here to stay?

Many industries have embraced the demand for pandemic-safe productsMany industries have embraced the demand for pandemic-safe products

By Raj Patel

Anti-bacterial, anti-viral, immunity-boosting, safety and hygiene: these are some of the most common pandemic-led words that ruled our vocabulary all through 2020, and continue to hold a firm place even in 2021. While many think this pandemic is here to stay, its longevity can only be speculated. It has affected the way we work, approach social issues, our mental and physical health, and so much more.

Evidently, it has also changed the general consumer psyche. Hygiene and safety are being incorporated in every retail and consumer product — from no-touch products to anti-bacterial fans. However, the question arises: will these pandemic products and restrictions continue as the world is slowly opening up to more in-person experiences? It is unlikely for the following reasons.

Viability factor

Most people are looking for products that are functional as well as aesthetic. However, this does not entail the ‘virus safe’ tag. For most consumers, it is about getting the job done. And if they think that conventional products are up to the mark, then the need for having pandemic-safe products goes down.

For instance, the aforementioned anti-bacterial fan is not something a usual purchaser would look for, while choosing a ceiling fan for her new home. Factors like aesthetics, installation and energy consumption, to name a few, will be considered. Consumers will continue to value performance before placement, and this will also affect the future of pandemic-safe products in the market.

Pandemic products require an extra layer of processing. They need different chemicals and manufacturing detail that entails additional resource, subject matter expertise, and, not to mention, cost. As a result, many manufacturers may not keep up with the pandemic product frenzy in the long term, and might end up shutting down this vertical altogether.

On the other hand, the rise in manufacturing cost of these products will also exponentially increase the selling price, which may not suit a regular consumer’s budget. When people are losing their economic viabilities and sources of income, selling high-priced pandemic products will not complement the consumer who is looking to optimise her budget.

Many industries have embraced the demand for pandemic-safe products. While the supply-demand equation is being attended to, it often plays adversely on the product’s objective. For example, the laminate industry is already creating virus-resistant products. However, the pandemic safety clause limits the creativity factor, which downplays custom decor for many. Different chemicals and processes undertaken for creating such specific products negate the pathway for product innovation and, hence, affect the purchasing experience.

Offline charm

The need for new experiences is intricately connected with the consumer’s purchase pattern. A lot was said about the life altering dynamics of the pandemic. For instance, a real-time shopping experience at the mall, grabbing a movie, travelling to international destinations, etc, would either cease to exist or take time to recover.

However, around 40 countries worldwide have already opened their borders for international tourists, while five countries, including India, will soon welcome tourists from across the seas.

On similar lines, consumers are already transitioning to the ‘old normal’ shopping experience, and want to move on from the limitations that the novel coronavirus poses. With safety precautions in place, theatres are witnessing a rise in people coming back for the authentic movie experience.

Humans are social animals, and while online experiences offer convenience, offline experiences tap into the consumer’s instinct of connecting. As a result, the old consumption patterns are slowly making their way back and reinforcing their claim in the market.

The author is director, Royale Touche

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