The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially altered our erstwhile way of living and the steps taken to control the devastating virus have disrupted pretty much every individual and business, regardless of their orientation.
For companies, it resulted in challenges and changes across supply chain, consumer demand, manufacturing, etc., but at the same time has presented an opportunity to turn the tide in their favor in the marketplace by taking advantage of shifting consumer preferences.
Trends that have got us talking
Social distancing is the new norm today and it has changed the way we shop, work and socialize. As a result, new habits have emerged; some trends have reversed, while others have accelerated.
REVERSAL OF PAST TRENDS
- From willing to experiment with new brands to gravitating to brands they can trust
- From experiential living to frugal living
ACCELERATION OF EXISTING TRENDS
- From using traditional means of communication to adopting digital tools to stay connected
- From using cash transaction to digital payments
- From local “kirana stores” to e-grocers
- From free content to rise in premium subscriptions
- From binging to conscious consumption and wellness
- From being nonchalant on aspects related to hygiene to being conscious of personal care
- From education in campuses to online classes
The trends in consumer behavior have been detrimental to some industries while benefiting others. Tourism and hospitality have been severely hit as people avoid travel.
On the other hand, sales of used cars and two-wheelers show signs of growth, as commuters opt for personal mobility options. Companies in the digital domain such as social media, OTT, e-wallets, ecommerce, ed-tech are gaining the most as Indians get more comfortable and confident in going online.
Brands, be brave
This is a phase of extreme uncertainty and disruption for brands. Ones that can understand the user’s preferences and her renewed agenda along with potential implications, are likely to survive and emerge stronger through the pandemic. The following three strategies could provide some direction in this respect:
1. Organizations should focus on building brand equity as much as they focus on performance. Consumers have shown a preference for embracing brands that they can trust rather than experimenting with new options during this period.
2. Resilience at both the organizational and brand level can be built with greater adaptability and agility, which is a function of risk-taking abilities.
3. Brands should focus on analytics and leverage data driven marketing to segment audiences and measure brand and business outcomes.
The Impact of COVID-19 from a Socio-cultural Context
How are people braving the impact of COVID-19 crisis?
The COVID-19 crisis is forcing change in the way we live and work, broadly in 3 ways:
- Physical – hygiene, nutrition and fitness
- Rational – cautious spending and convenience
- Emotional – sense of community and social engagement.
The primary impact of COVID-19 is the impact on physical safety of individuals. While 85% of the people agree that they won’t feel safe until there is a vaccine.
More than 93% people are now more careful about hygiene. Masks saw a 380% surge in demand, sanitizer by 440% 3 but it seems to have been stabilized now.
Weekly Time Spent on Social Networking During lockdown, the time spent on social networking increased by 48% from 3.13 minutes to 4.46 minutes per week. While it has normalised over time, it was still 12% higher than pre COVID-19 levels.
Digital news apps and websites registered a 41% increase in time spent from 40 min per week in the week of 28th March to 3rd April 2020, up from 27 min in pre COVID-19.
Some trends which emerged and are likely to continue are
- Increased time spent on social
- Making it more real – increase in “Live”
- Social going beyond connections and entertainment – to creation and expression
- The rise of influencers