While consumers were quick to move online, it created unexpected demand for many FMCG companies
By Murtaza Bakir
Covid-19 is changing consumer habits globally as well as in India — everything from how we shop for groceries and cook, to how we consume food. For consumers, health is now a priority. Google searches featuring the term ‘immunity’ have surged. As information about the need for strong immunity to prevent infection goes viral, the consumption of ayurvedic and traditional foods to boost immunity is getting a boost.
A few Indian brands have responded. For instance, Dabur has launched its ‘immunity boosting’ Tulsi drops, while Nourish Organics is promoting immunity booster packs. As consumers face tough times ahead, brands that can help them achieve holistic wellbeing, including mental wellbeing, will gain importance. Brands that seize opportunities, and are agile in bringing innovative offerings to the market are likely to win big.
The speed with which digital services and platforms are being adopted by consumers during the lockdown, indicates how consumers are set to rely more on digital services in the long term. While consumers were quick to move online, it created an unexpected demand for many FMCG companies.
Consumer expectations with regards to deliveries through apps and social media, be it food or non-essentials, will continue to grow in the future. It is pertinent for FMCG brands to collaborate with the right partners to leverage their strengths, and serve consumers better by enabling seamless last-mile delivery. Such collaborative partnerships will continue to benefit brands in the long term.
Brands need to take a more holistic, multi-category approach to homecare. Only a few have developed outreach and education programmes to help consumers cut through the confusion, and define the best homecare routine. For example: when should consumers be cleaning versus disinfecting, or when should clothing be laundered — immediately after a run or only after a shopping trip?
In the personal care space, the hand sanitiser segment has long been one that is associated with being dry on the skin. However, its high usage now will drive demand for products with a better sensorial profile. For example, in the US, Touchland, a hand sanitiser company, has products that claim to ‘make your skin happy’; whereas Body Natur, a Spain-based vegan beauty brand has recently launched a hand cream which claims to protect against bacteria and microorganisms, but at the same time providing 24-hour hydration.
Opportunities exist for premiumisation in the beauty and personal care space, as there will be a demand for products that offer benefits beyond sanitisation, such as moisturising and fragrance. Products that mitigate risks of contamination by utilising touchless formats and offer extended shelf-life to consumers rationing supplies and/or unable to obtain alternatives will stand out as being safe and dependable.
In the foreground of this pandemic, brands that quickly pivot and offer the best consumer experience even under exceptional circumstances will find themselves with a greater market share in the long run. It is important to connect with consumers in a personal way to deepen trust and loyalty, which will set the tone for how consumers view and interact with them, moving forward.
In conclusion, businesses need to be quick and flexible in adapting to the changes in market conditions, to become less vulnerable to risks. Brands need to pay more attention to shifts in values in the long term, as the social impact will be longer lasting than the economic impact. Instead of a quick V-shaped rebound, businesses need to prepare for a longer period of economic recovery, as consumer spending will become more prudent due to increasing financial stress.
The author is country head, Mintel India and Sri Lanka