Tough to survive in post COVID world as customers will rethink buying decisions; here’s what brands must do

June 22, 2020 11:25 AM

As India steps into a recessionary phase, unemployment will surge even further and Indians will be careful to consume, it would be prudent for brands to strategize their design thinking in order for them to remain relevant.

Indians’ consumption pattern in the post-covid era will be a function of the level of uncertainty and economic independence that they continue to hold.

India welcomed 2020 with rising prices and followed that with falling growth estimates by the latter half of Q4 FY20. Just as onions were allowed to step-down from their position of luxury, we were staring at stagflation from a myopic lens. Between these economic tensions, India’s social fabric was facing testing times and their collective union gave rise to a series of democratic voices that were playing as a background score. Amidst this chaos, the stock exchange was having its own party — only to reflect the sentiment of the nation a little after Valentine’s Day. They say love is bittersweet — well markets experienced that with pain and agony. The COVID-19 outbreak intensified the domino effect.

Behavioural perspective that were driving brands in Before Corona Era:

You must be wondering which domino effect I am referring to. Well, it’s a domino effect guided by the socio-economic and political disposition India currently is in and impacts the cultural idiosyncrasies and changing tastes that insurgent brands have been trying to cater to. Is it the avocado toast and kombuchas catering to Instagram hungry millennials? Or is it the fact that their consumption patterns have boosted the rental economy (Another reason for this growth is the millennials have tastes that they can’t afford and they use renting as a medium to live these experiences vicariously)? Or is it that sustainability is driving consumption and is heading towards a minimalist approach? A communion of these encapsulate the design thinking guiding Indians in Before Corona Era (B.C.). Furthermore, as India steps into a recessionary phase, unemployment will surge even further and Indians will be careful to consume, it would be prudent for brands to strategize their design thinking in order for them to remain relevant for the consumers in the After Corona Era (A.C.).

How we design our lives in the After Corona Era will redefine the consumption story for India

As we transition from B.C. to A.C., technology as an enabler will redefine supply chains and business models. As business models will be rewired over the course of next few months and India will adapt to creative financing solutions going forward, I feel the words of William Gibson “The future is here. It is just unevenly distributed” resonates the unspoken reality of India in today’s time. A spark of this can be
sensed in a few sectors that I believe have the potential to grow in the post-covid era in India. In the post
covid era India will see a surge of businesses that are tech-enabled; Big data and AI will find a space in product design; sectors like e-retail, health-tech, gaming and digital learning will surge and we will witness the rise of neobanking in India.

How to thrive in the post-corona era?

Furthermore, Indians’ consumption pattern in the post-covid era will be a function of the level of
uncertainty and economic independence that they continue to hold. The India that people experience once the lockdown opens will see a correction in demand from Indian consumers — largely guided by their need to reprioritise expenses in the short-term. Brands and products that do not cater to immediate needs of consumers or are unable address the new societal problems that are sprouting in India, will find it increasing difficult to raise institutional funding or even sustain themselves going forward. Ergo, at a time when firms are trying maintain excess liquidity and cash positions – in addition to adapting to sustainable models I believe that India Inc. and startups will slowly shift towards innovative financing solutions like structured financing solutions, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending, Intellectual Property Rights financing, and venture philanthropy for fundraising by the eve of 2021.

  • Shahan Sud is an investment banker. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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