As India continues to deal with the spread of COVID-19, and the number of cases continue to rise, the impact on consumer behaviour is set to last beyond the crisis. As consumers brace themselves for the challenges that lie ahead, the latest research from Mintel reveals that 85 percent of Indian consumers are worried about being exposed to the virus, including 84 percent of consumers aged 35-44 who are extremely worried than other cohorts.
Nidhi Sinha, Head of Content, Mintel Reports India, said: “The fear of becoming infected with the novel coronavirus is forcing consumers to adapt to a changing lifestyle. With ‘healthy living’ a top goal for the majority of consumers in India, the spread of the virus has led to consumers looking at health more seriously. This includes a focus on healthy eating, better hygiene, increased consumption of immunity-building foods, exercise, and financial planning for a health ailment.
The health wave, which has been a growing focus for consumers and brands even before the pandemic outbreak, will become essential as everyone takes health and wellness more seriously. It is important for brands to keep a close track of consumer sentiments in the current dynamic situation and be empathetic and help consumers focus on overall physical and mental well-being as consumers face tough times ahead.”
Hygiene and cleanliness are top of consumers’ minds
With over two-thirds of consumers (69 percent) extremely worried about exposure to infection, there has been an attempt to bring about changes in their lifestyles. Almost three in four Indian consumers (70 percent) have started wearing masks, increasing to 77 percent of those who live with elderly people—an indication that consumers are taking care of those most vulnerable to this infection.
A fear of the virus has led to consumers taking extra care when it comes to personal hygiene and cleanliness. Over half of Indians (52 percent) have increased their use of disinfectants and household cleaning agents in an attempt to achieve cleanliness. Whereas 64 percent of consumers are washing their hands more often and 65 percent are using hand sanitiser more often.
“Lifestyle changes triggered by COVID-19 are impacting consumer mindsets. Our research shows that increased handwashing, usage of masks, hand sanitisers, and household cleaning products indicates that consumers are actively taking steps to change their lifestyle as a result of the virus. In order to resonate with consumers, brands need to cater to the growing need of hygiene and holistic well-being. To further build equity and connect with consumers in this time of hardship it is important for companies to adapt their marketing communications and continue with awareness campaigns to reiterate the importance of hygiene and cleanliness. Another way brands can help consumers is by offering multi-functional products as consumers look to disinfect multiple things like mobile phones, surfaces, and shopping bags at once. They can also look to innovate in packaging and ingredients to make cleansing products feasible to carry anytime, anywhere.”
From online shopping to stock-piling
Mintel research reveals that almost half of Indian consumers (48 percent) say they are stocking up on daily essentials. This number is significantly higher compared to countries like Thailand (21 percent), South Korea (13 percent), Australia and New Zealand (30 percent) in the Asia-Pacific region and a close second to China which has the largest percentage of consumers who reported stocking up on essentials as a result of the pandemic (62 percent).
What’s more, amidst government-mandated lockdown, there has been a significant rise in online grocery shopping. Mintel research reveals that 44 percent of consumers have increased the amount of shopping they do online following the outbreak. This increase was higher among older consumers with 57 percent of those aged 35-54 increasing their online shopping, compared to 32 percent of those aged 18-34. In fact, the same consumer cohort – those aged 35-54 – are more likely to have stockpiled groceries (59 percent), compared to consumers overall.
“With supply chains impacted due to the lockdown, consumers are forced to shop online and adopt a minimalist approach as they struggle to procure essentials. Kirana stores have once again become the mainstay grocery providers for the virtue of being close to home and ensuring the availability of essentials. It is important for FMCG brands to ensure availability of products by collaborating with the right delivery partners and devise innovative strategies to better serve and offer convenient solutions to their consumers during and after the lockdown. Consumer loyalty earned during this period will continue to benefit brands for a long time.”