The global pandemic had an adverse impact on the Indian economy and the entire business ecosystem along with online sales. On 1 September 2020, the Ministry of Statistics released the GDP figures for Q1 (April to June) FY21, which showed a contraction of 24% as compared to the same period the year before. The pandemic impact on select segments in the consumer markets is tabulated below.
Businesses have suffered on various fronts like stressed supply chains, shortage of workers, steep fall in consumer demand, and drop in online sales. Post phase 4 of unlocking although the stress seemed to have relatively reduced, what will the upcoming festive season have in store for the business? This article tries to capture some insights on the consumer demand trend for the upcoming festive season for various industries.
Consumer demand recovery
Consumer demand recovery has been steady and has reached to pre-COVID levels in most of the industries. FMCG demand in rural India has recovered to 85% of its pre-COVID average sales. In packaged food categories catering to habits like Biscuits, snacks there has not been much of an impact due to COVID as quoted by MR R S Sodhi, MD, AMUL. Nestle India has a similar opinion on consumer food demand.
Home appliances and other consumer durables too have recovered significantly and consumer demand in this segment has reached its pre COVID levels. Although most of this demand is dominantly evident on the online sales front whereas consumer intent to purchase offline still remains low. A buyer behavior analysis by Nielsen reveals that consumers’ intent to buy durables has significantly increased. The convenience and safety of shopping from the comfort of home have led to a significant increase in online sales in this sector.
Personal care demand has not just recovered but has significantly increased relative to the Pre COVID levels. Although the product mix that consumers are inclining towards has undergone a significant transformation in this segment. COVID has resulted in some new irreversible consumer habits and this behavior is expected to stay even post the Pandemic. The following data captures the increase in consumer demand in the personal care and well-being segment and also throws some light on the changing consumer habits due to the pandemic.
Changing consumer buying habits
The pandemic has impacted consumer buying behavior. Some of these changes are temporary but experts identified habits that are irreversible and will stick on even post the pandemic phase. Changes in the consumer shopping journey before, during, and after the pandemic are captured in the following matrix. The stronger touchpoints that brands should focus on to ride the demand recovery wave are presented in green in the matrix.
Key takeaways for brands
An objective view at the recovering consumer demand in various consumer segments and the rising online queries point towards positive festive sale revenues. This festive season, for many consumer segments, can be even more lucrative given the pend up the void in consumer purchases due to lockdown. The majority of shoppers have been spending on necessities and have not been spending on impulse/good to have products during the lockdown phase and during Unlock 1 and 2. With Unlock 4, there has been a significant spike in user queries for non-essentials categories.
This festive season, consumer demand is not going to be a challenge and it can reach or even be more than the demand during the festive season last year. The challenge now is to effectively tap all the new touchpoints of a buyer’s journey that has been transformed by the pandemic. Being actively present on the new channels of engagement for your consumers will play a key role in your effectiveness of grabbing a share of the festive sale. Forerunner among the list of channels for this still remains a brand’s D2C eCommerce store. Brands gearing up for the festival should run a thorough health check of their D2C channel and actively start engaging users to grab a place in their festive Wishlist.
- The Business Standard
- The Hindu
- The Economic Times