25 March 2020: A day every Indian will remember during their lifetime. This date marks the beginning of the lockdown period due to the coronavirus pandemic. When the news of upcoming lockdown started to spread, everyone went out and started hoarding all the essential items so that they can survive for at least a month without stepping out. Since the lockdown began, consumption patterns are being influenced by government orders, community rules and regulations and self-care. People who are habitual newspaper readers have given up reading newspapers since newspaper vendors have been banned from entering into most of the gated communities. In fact, domestic help, food and other delivery staffs, all are forbidden. Hence ordering food online is also not possible.
People have started becoming self-dependent. We still celebrate weekends, but with homemade foods. We can keep our houses clean by ourselves, we have realized it is much better to use washing machines and dishwashers rather than depending on domestic help. Ready to eat packaged and canned foods are a blessing in disguise. If we take a look at this bar diagram below, which shows the buying pattern of the consumers on a week wise basis, we will see that the demand for essential commodities is the highest:
During this period, we have realized it is better to buy our own cars, even if it is a second hand, rather than taking Ola and Uber cabs, since they can be potential sources of coronavirus. Women have found out various ways to groom themselves, since visiting parlours and salons even after lockdown can be a significant threat.
As the world fights the rapid spread of coronavirus, the confinement of people within their homes has led to some permanent changes in consumption pattern, which may have a long-lasting impact on specific industries. It is altering consumer behaviour on a massive scale. It is changing the way each of us reads, thinks, works and relax on a daily basis.
Some of the noteworthy consumer behaviour changes, according to a survey by NRF:
- 9 out of 10 consumers have upgraded their traditional shopping habits.
- Over 50% of consumers have ordered products online that they would typically buy at a store
- About 6 in 10 consumers say that they are worried about going to the store due to fear of being infected
People are expected to spend higher on health and hygiene products, rather than focussing on luxury jewellery, clothes or perfumes. The return to out-of-home consumption, dining out will definitely be slow after the lockdown; focus will be more on online deliveries like Swiggy and Zomato. There will invariably be a rise in the consumption of products and services that make us independent. Online tutorials, online classroom lessons, online movie portals like Amazon Prime, Netflix, eCommerce, video conferencing apps, telemedicine will gain popularity now. There will be a rise in everything that gives us comfort — nostalgic content (Ramayan and Mahabharat), comfort food recipes and games such as Ludo (online). There are high chances that the souls affected by the events of 2020 will continue to seek comfort even after the lockdown ends.
Will this change be permanent? Will shopping malls and multiplexes be mere show windows? It is too early to comment if this will be permanent or not, but one thing we can safely assume is that personal hygiene will play a vital role. People will not be unarmed before venturing out; a bottle of sanitizer, a mask and a pair of gloves will be a permanent companion. If demonetization promoted the growth of online payments and digital banking, it is safe to say that COVID-19 will mutate consumer behaviour to a great extent. Hygiene will be customer attracter everywhere. Companies advertising in bus shelters having hands free sanitizer dispenser, masks and gloves vending machines, thermal scanners will attract consumers and will definitely help the brand to occupy a significant space in their minds. Consumers are likely to notice the steps taken by different corporate during this pandemic, and this will help them to build brand perception. Corporate houses can use OOH medium for advertising their CSR activities in this tough time and getting closer to the consumers. Brands must think about what can be done to bring optimism and positivity among the consumers. It will always be better to prove as a caring brand during this pandemic, if a brand puts profit above people, those people will remember the betrayal. New consumers will be more conscious, rather than buying non-essential and luxury goods and services they are likely to splurge on essential commodities. The need for business travel and the use of commercial office spaces will see a decline as realization starts to set in that it is more comfortable and productive working from home at a much less overhead cost.
Post COVID-19, we are looking at consumers who are healthier, more caring, more focussed on personal hygiene, values a less wasteful lifestyle, more conscious, less mobile yet more productive. Probably the “New Normal” will be a bit different from the usual normal we always knew, or perhaps not. Nobody is clear enough to predict this today; all of us can understand the actual scenario only when we experience it for real. But it can be assured that the world will not be the same again.
Assistant Sales Manager
SKYRAMS OUTDOOR ADVERTISINGS INDIA PVT LTD.