How COVID-19 changed consumers behaviour?

Consumers expect reduced income, intend to spend more on health products: Facebook-BCG report

Even though a large section of people in India expect their household income to reduce in the next six months, many are looking at higher spends on health and hygiene products in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a report by Facebook and BCG said on Thursday.

These factors, along with social distancing, are accelerating trends like e-commerce adoption and purchase triggers being more functional, the report said.

The report found 54 per cent respondents saying they expect their overall household income to reduce in the next six months.

About 49 per cent said they intend to buy more vitamins, herbs and supplements in the coming times.

"We are experiencing unprecedented shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviours - over 80 per cent consumers will continue to practice social distancing and are bringing the outside inside, over 40 per cent of consumers are dialling up on health and wellness spends, e-commerce adoption has already advanced by 2-3 years - to name a few," Nimisha Jain, Managing Director and Partner at Boston Consulting Group, said.

She added that these aren't just temporary surges, and many will last longer and become more defining traits.

"Our analysis reveals that only 1 in 6 companies emerged stronger in past crises - players who show the agility to reinvent their value propositions, go-to-market plans and business models to address these demand shifts will be the ones that set themselves apart from the pack," she said.

The report titled 'Turn the Tide' focused on how COVID-19 has changed consumer behaviour and altered the path-to-purchase. It is based on insights from primary and secondary research covering the top 100 cities in India (SEC A and B) and was done in three phases.

As per the report, 43 per cent consumers anticipate a decrease in overall spend in the next six months, and purchase triggers are expected to become more functional. Also, consumers are focusing on the origin of the product and brand's response to the crisis with 63 per cent consumers saying they are paying more attention to the origin of the product.

While 43 per cent are expecting to reduce overall spends in the next six months, more than half of those who reduce spends will still buy a cheaper brand/variant.

This period has also accelerated digital adoption. About 51 per cent consumers said they saw an increase in payment via digital wallets, while about 50 per cent said they expect to increase e-commerce spend in the next month.

The report said India has seen a 1.3-1.7X increase in the number of online shoppers for essentials, and the surge in preference for the online channel is sharper in India than in China, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

"As business after business joins the dots to understand consumer shifts in both mindsets and behaviours as a result of COVID-19, we have invested in studying the new paths to purchase in continuing our commitment to enabling growth for businesses both large and small. The report outlines the opportunities that businesses need to embrace in the context of new consumer journeys and category needs," Facebook India Director and Head (Global Marketing Solutions) Sandeep Bhushan said.

He added that in response to consumers embracing the digital medium, brands need to focus on solutions that are relevant for the new normal such as hyper-localisation, creating virtual experiences, re-looking at the media-mix to build efficiency, or building messaging around new habits such as do-it-yourself (DIY) and the increased focus on health and hygiene.

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