The coronavirus pandemic has taken the whole world by storm. India has been under long government-mandated lockdowns, with citizens being asked to stay indoors and avoid any unnecessary travel as the novel coronavirus spreads to more parts of the country. However, with the number of infected cases rising steadily and the Indian government trying to flatten the growth curve, the situation continues to be grim.
Consumers feel that the pandemic would cause major hurdles to employment and business growth in India. Consumer shopping habits are also changing over the course of the crisis. Some of these are as follows :
- Hoarding of Essential items – While people are caught up in the fear of contracting the virus, the nationwide lockdown, led to severe disruptions and widespread confusion among people. This resulted in panic buying and people hoarding essential items such as rice, wheat, packaged food, home care products, etc.
- Reducing expenses – With many people expecting COVID-19 to negatively affect their finances, consumers are being mindful about their spending and trading down to less expensive products. They intend to continue spending on essentials, such as grocery and household supplies and cutting back on most discretionary categories like apparels, shoes etc.
- Focus on Health and Hygiene – As information about the need for strong immunity to prevent infection goes viral, the consumption of ayurvedic and traditional foods to boost immunity like chyawanprash, vitamins, traditional supplements increased to help keep them safe. Awareness campaigns on the importance of washing hands with soap and using sanitiser/disinfectant have resulted in a spike in usage.
- Shift to Online shopping – The lockdown order effectively forced people to switch to online shopping because of movement restrictions and social-distancing norms even for bare necessities such as vegetables and groceries. Online grocery providers like Amazon, Supr, Daily, Grofers and Big Basket have witnessed huge surge in demand. Players in segments such as food delivery, online beauty retailers like Zomato and Nykaa respectively have started delivering essentials. Even Local Kirana shops started to deliver online.
- Increase in usage of Digital Platforms – Staying at home due to the lockdown has consumers spending more time on digital platforms. Social apps, Gaming apps, News apps and video editor apps have witnessed tremendous growth. OTT platforms and TV are the preferred choice for entertainment. This has also increased Data consumption by consumers in addition to WFH (Work from Home)
- Preference for small packs – In order to control their household expenses, consumers are preferring to buy small packs of FMCG products, especially in the rural areas. Companies have launched small packs in various product categories for the same.
- Negative impact on certain industries – Outbreak of novel corona virus has negatively impacted several industries like Restaurants, Food Delivery, Hospitality, Tourism, Retail, Multiplexes, Aviation Health/Fitness (spa, salons, gyms) and many more.
Business Organizations need to closely monitor the changes in Consumer Shopping habits and react proactively to transform themselves in order to face these challenges in the marketplace.
Dr. D K Sakore,
Associate Professor – IIMP