The shift in consumer behaviour and preferences due to the economic impact is going through a sea change. As many consumers are living on reduced incomes or no incomes, they most likely restrict consumption to essential purchases.
By Amrinder Singh
The Covid-19 pandemic will come to an end at some point. As the government is planning to gradually lift restrictions after weeks of lock-down, the worry is now how to have a normal life once again without significantly raising the risk of disease spread. Now, people are living differently buying differently and in many ways, thinking differently too. The shift in consumer behaviour and preferences due to the economic impact is going through a sea change. As many consumers are living on reduced incomes or no incomes, they most likely restrict consumption to essential purchases.
The social distancing norms have shifted the minds of many customers towards e-commerce, and digital-led experiences and these options have become people’s long term or even permanent options. Therefore, in order to cater to the consumer’s demand businesses need to be innovative and craft their offers and propositions in a manner that allows them to make savings without sacrificing affordability and quality of service experience in the face of this transition. Business leaders should aim to have a clear picture of their customer journey beyond the pandemic period.
Focusing on service innovations tailored at giving a well differentiated service experience should be at the core of their strategic planning. Major COVID-19 announcements such as public health and government press conferences with consumer spending on items such as hand sanitizers and essential foods, reveals a series of recurring patterns. These patterns (though still evolving), when reviewed across impacted countries, help provide a set of leading indicators for packaged goods manufacturers and retailers faced with supply issues as they race to meet record levels of demand and changing purchase habits. We have listed out few more changing consumer consumption pattern following the deadly corona-virus pandemic and these new patterns will endure beyond this crisis, permanently changing what we value, how and where we shop, and how we live and work.
Productive health-minded buying
Corona-virus pandemic has once again shifted the focus to have a good health as the top priority. And, that’s why consumer’s focus have shifted towards the most basic needs, sending demand for hygiene, cleaning and staples products soaring, while non-essential categories slump. Personal health is the top priority for the consumers followed by the health of friends and family. Food and medical security, financial security and personal safety were other leading priorities.
Reactive Health Management
People have started prioritizing their needs and are spending in such categories only. They are avoiding to spend on leisure buying. Consumers across the globe are looking at products and brands through a new and highly thoughtful perspective. People soon will be stepping out to resume their college, office or school but will operate with a new consciousness. Hygiene products will always be their top priority.
Quarantined Living Preparation
The COVID-19 outbreak has slowed the pace and changed daily life for many consumers, and this is having a profound impact on the way we view personal hygiene, health and how we engage with our communities, friends and families. People are embracing technology more than ever to support all aspects and consequences of isolation. Even the older generation have become used to the online shopping now. The sales of online grocery orders placed by people born in the 1960s were four times higher than normal.
Living a new Normal
As people have become health conscious, the more focus is on health and maintaining social distance and hygiene. The ways in which people spend their leisure time have changed because of the outbreak and related social distancing measures. People are working from home as businesses close doors and encourage remote work. Many employees who have not worked remotely before—or not often—plan to do so more frequently in the future.
Growing love for local
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to become aatmanirbhar and go local, consumers are preferring local products over international ones. The desire to shop local is reflected in both the products consumer buy and the way they shop. Consumer goods brands also need to explore ways to connect locally – be it through highlighting local provenance, customizing for local needs, focusing more on local ingredients or engaging in locally relevant ways. This will also enable to generate employment locally with many people, whose business might have impacted due to the corona-virus.
- Amrinder Singh is Director, Bonn Group of Industries. Views expressed are the author’s own.