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Changing Indian consumer behavior and sentiment: An overview

COVID-19 staggered the lockdown approach in the world, which eventually forced industries to adopt new strategies. Let's look at how the current situation has affected people's outlook and changed Indian consumer needs.

COVID-19 has kept Indian households across the country confined inside their homes with little help and has changed the Indian middle-class families’ lifestyle. With no domestic help, all household chores had to be done by the family members. Everyone was forced to make a new schedule and had to lend their hand in the kitchen and the home’s daily cleaning processes. The lockdown state made people aware of the unseen potential of the means available to them and changing Indian consumer needs became a norm. 

Continuous information on the Coronavirus crisis had engulfed the Indian families and, with regular expert views through various media, on tackling the same. It helped increase awareness among the Indian consumers regarding immunity, the primary body fighter against the virus. The Indian consumer during this period have been actively seeking information on the ways and means to improve and increase their immunity.  

Post the Lockdown period, Indian Consumers understood the need to have a good diet and food rich in proteins (vegan, dairy, and non-veg), Vitamin A & C, and minerals consisting of Zinc and Iron. Eventually, experts such as Dietitians, health, meditation, self-help, ancillary health, motivational and yoga practitioners received good exposure. 

Hygiene became an essential part of their daily lives through frequent hand wash, keeping their clothes, homes, and surroundings clean. This has also changed consumers buying behavior of various products, usage, and others. New media & reading habits have started to evolve and change with digital media dominating the consumer habit. Social media has become the new norm, and the Audio-Visual media has become the newly dominant social media. 

With work from home becoming the new norm, it is useful in industries such as software & allied, and even in industries that require office presence, there will be staggered office timings with working from home. Sales and Marketing personnel may have to operate partly from their homes. This is advantageous for the organizations as this will require less costly real estate office space, its maintenance, and office operational costs. For individuals, the to and from office travel costs and travel time, especially in metro cities, will be saved and cause lesser pollution in cities.  

Also, lesser meetings in office and meeting customers are done through online and virtual meetings. The FMCG, Pharma and other sales personnel visits to the retailers, doctors, and B2B customers have drastically reduced and the regular reordering of material from retailers/wholesalers will not be dependent on the Sales personnel visits.  

During the initial lockdown period, there was a disruption of supplies of essential goods such as milk, dairy products, and many daily essential goods. The packaged food manufacturers and the retail supply chain was primarily affected by the changes in consumer preference for essential food and personal care products and no sales of furnishings and apparel. As industries start to pick up their sales, Indian consumers’ needs will continue to evolve at a rapid pace, and retailers and packaged food manufacturers will have to turn to new and creative ways to grow alongside consumers. 

Next door grocery stores (General Trade) came to the rescue of the nearby lockdown residents as they have been able to replenish various brands of packaged food products. The enterprising GT stores were able to source from the nearby wholesalers and distributors. Modern stores located in the residential catchment areas could only offer the left-over stocks and only the private label brands and slow-moving brands such as organic food products.  

Food delivery aggregators, cab and bike taxi aggregators, and non-essential e-commerce firms joined hands with retail chains and online grocers to supply groceries to consumers even post lockdown. Uber, Domino’s Pizza, Rapido, Swiggy, Zomato, and Scootsy have all ventured into grocery delivery in partnerships with retail chains such as Reliance, Big Bazaar, Spencer’s Retail, and Nature’s Basket. Online & mobile shopping becomes the new norm among the Indian Consumers with an increase in online shopping, including among many first-time adopters, there has been an imminent potential for acceleration of the growth of online sales. 

The COVID-19 has changed the world as we all know it. Everyone is forced to live and buy differently and, in many ways, think differently. The virus is reshaping Indian consumer’s habits and behavior, which is likely to contribute to what we value, how and where we shop, and how we live and work.

P.Rajan Mathews
P.Rajan Mathews
P. Rajan Mathews is a passionate Food & Beverage senior management professional involved in nurturing, growing, and developing the next generation of brands in the global packaged Food & Beverage industry. Presently, he is the Chief Brand Mentor at NEXT Food & Beverage Brands and runs a boutique brand consultancy firm focused on the packaged Food & Beverage industry.
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