From Rajat Wahi, Dheeraj SInha to Saurabh Uboweja, experts decode the post-lockdown consumer behaviour
The ongoing lockdown to combat Covid-19 has altered consumers’ purchase decisions — higher spends on health and hygiene products, adapting to limited product availability, and preferring home deliveries over store visits. Venkata Susmita Biswas asks three experts if there could be a decisive shift in consumer behaviour post lockdown.
Rajat Wahi, partner, Deloitte India
‘Out-of-home consumption will be slow’
As restrictions are eased on both offline and online retail, we are likely to follow what’s happening in markets like China and Germany, where life is slowly coming back to normal: focus on health and hygiene products is likely to sustain for the short to medium term; retaliatory or ‘revenge’ shopping across non-essential and premium categories that consumers have been starved of, focus on contactless deliveries and in-store pick-up; and social distancing in stores with fewer customers and footfall per store in the short term. This will likely put more pressure on retailers’ productivity and margins.
The role of offline stores may change to focus on experience and collection, as people choose to ‘buy online, pick up in store’. There could be an increase of online purchases across categories, including essentials and food products. The return to out-of-home consumption and restaurant dining is expected to be slow, with take-away and home delivery becoming a larger part of the restaurant business. As consumers look to stock up and reduce visits to outlets in the short term, we will see larger pack size consumption in urban areas. In rural areas, consumption will veer towards sachets and smaller sizes to conserve cash.
Dheeraj Sinha, MD & CSO, Leo Burnett South Asia
‘Rise in products that make us independent’
While this event will have an indelible impact on consumer behaviour, it is not that we would suddenly put a stop to leisure or indulgences and become a frugal society. However, there are a few clear indicators of what will influence our behaviour in the time to come. There will be heightened awareness on hygiene, and we would expect and be willing to pay for sanitation efforts in malls, cinema halls, airlines, shared transport, and so on.
A lot of us are realising the advantages of being independent — being able to stir up a meal, ride our own vehicle, and do our own laundry. As the shared economy services innovate to be compliant with the new world, there will be a rise in products and services that make us more independent. Personal transport, whether new or second hand, washing machines and dishwashers, and even cooking tutorials should be in demand. There is a rise in everything that gives us comfort — nostalgic content (Ramayan and Friends), comfort food recipes and games such as Ludo (albeit, online). Chances are that the souls frayed by the events of 2020 will continue to seek comfort.
Saurabh Uboweja, founder, BOD Consulting
‘New consumer will be frugal, more conscious’
Consumers have shifted from splurging on non-essential goods and services to preserving essentials and making them last longer. They are also reflecting on their consumption a lot more than earlier. The survivalist mentality will give way to the growth mindset in a few months. However, it is likely that even post the rebound, the per capita consumption will show muted growth in the next three to five years as people learn to live within their means and start valuing a less wasteful lifestyle.
Travel, commercial real estate and hospitality sectors, which have been set back by five-10 years in terms of industry size, will restart from a new base. The need for business travel and use of office spaces will see a dramatic decline as companies become comfortable and more productive operating from home at a much lower cost.
Personal and home care products focussed on hygiene and safety will create a larger market for themselves. Digital solutions that limit people movement, reduce cost and yet increase productivity, such as video conferencing, telemedicine and edtech, will become the norm. Post Covid-19, we are looking at the new consumer who is healthier, caring, frugal, more conscious, less mobile, and yet more productive.