Graphically Speaking

Consuming with a viral difference

As COVID-19 continues to remake our world, it is changing our buying behaviours

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Published 4 months ago on Apr 09, 2021 2 minutes Read

India’s consumption was growing at a steady pace, and was expected to triple by 2030. We were getting richer as people, smaller as families, and spending without a care as newly employed. Then the pandemic came crashing in, and all calculations went haywire. Today we are living with a new normal and that includes our consumption patterns.

One surprising trend is that, despite the government’s focus on ‘Vocal for Local’, we are spending more on imported brands in personal gadgets. According to a joint survey-report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Retailers Association of India (RAI), in the mobile phones category, the market share lost by Indian brands has been captured by Chinese and other videsi brands. Post pandemic, these phone purchases — of 97% of people earning less than Rs 150,000 and of 50% of those making one million to two million rupees a year — have been driven by functional need, which is when a phone has to be replaced or repaired.

In another trend, the country’s retail sector declined for the first time in decades by 3%  because it wasn’t easy to get around, and we have begun to worry about our health and income. We now care less for ‘touching and seeing’ a product before bagging it, and instead we are willing to place our trust in a brand. We are eating healthier and dressing more comfortably. The survey says, at least 34% of Indian consumers shifted to chemical-free and health-promoting products after COVID-19, from the pre-pandemic 8%. With work-from-home widely accepted, the market for athleisure wear is growing faster than any other category and is expected to expand at 20-25% CAGR over the next four to five years.

The role of traditional media is diminished, with only 22% of the respondents claiming to be influenced by them, which is much lesser than the 30% pre-pandemic. Social media apps and websites are now rapidly emerging as opinion leaders.

Overall, we seem to be turning into individualistic beings, more comfortable with a digital world than a social one.