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A ‘never-before’ focus on health and safety, rise in spends on fresh food in India: Report

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By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |

Published: June 24, 2020 6:20:28 pm


cleaning, disinfecting The pandemic has led to a significant change in consumer behaviour, with people embracing digital services and experiences more, giving rise to a “smart shopper”. (Source: getty images)

A new report by Facebook India in association with Boston Consulting Group has traced how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted consumers’ behaviour and purchase pathways.

Titled ‘Turn the Tide’, the study showed how the pandemic has created a “never-before focus on health and safety”. A spike of almost 120 per cent has been recorded in online searches on health and immunity in India post COVID-19, as 40 per cent consumers intend to buy more vitamins, herbs and supplements in the coming days, as per BCG COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Survey between April 30-May 3, 2020.

Meanwhile, India has observed a stark drop in the number of visits across public spaces. There has been 85 per cent reduction in the number of visits to retail and recreation spaces, and 65 per cent reduction in visits to workplaces.

Read| Office-goers battle the fear of COVID-19: ‘It’s scary, wish we could work from home’

Essentials like fresh food, staple and home care have witnessed “positive spending sentiment” over the period of the lockdown, packaged food has seen “neutral sentiment” while cosmetics witnessed “pure discretionary spends” or “weaker consumer sentiment”. As per the report, 44 per cent of people plan to increase online spend on fresh food, 52 per cent on staples and 47 per cent on packaged food in the coming six months.

About 48 per cent couples without children, and 67 per cent of those with children are looking to either increase or retain spends on fresh food in the next six months. As for spending on staples, 71 per cent couples without child, and 85 percent of families with children intend to continue spending. About 54 per cent of those with children, and 53 of those without, would retain spends on packaged foods in the next six months.

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With more focus on “at home” consumption, a similar pattern was noticed across different age groups between 18-45 years of age. As per the findings, 85 per cent of youngsters between 18-25 years, 83 percent of people between 26-35 years and 72 per cent of those between 36-45 years intend to increase or retain spends on fresh food for the next six months while 62 per cent, 68 per cent and 62 per cent of the above categories respectively would spend on packaged food.

The pandemic has led to a significant change in consumer behaviour, with people embracing digital services and experiences more, giving rise to a “smart shopper”. New habits like “remote way of living”, “do it yourself” and “superior hygiene and clean living” are gradually picking up as the new normal. As per the report, there has been a 2.7 times rise in viewership of cooking recipes, a 2.8 times rise in the duration spent on self-help and personal grooming videos, and a 100 per cent spike in “how to” trends. About 52 per cent consumers have increased use of social media.

Besides, 47 per cent of Indian household claim to have increased home and toilet cleaning while 91 per cent of those are washing hands more often. Online sales of personal products like sanitiser between February and March 2020 has increased by 14 times. Online search on health and immunity have increased by 1.2 times, with more demand on immunity building food products.

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“Consumers will look for buying avenues which provide contact-less convenience while fulfilling their core needs of familiarity and immediacy,” the report mentioned.

In case of home and personal care, “consumers will trade up in home care, trade down in cosmetics, and selectively trade up /down in personal care owing to a more value conscious, yet quality focused mindset”. About 20-25 per cent urban consumers for non-food categories (home care, personal care and cosmetics) are expected to be digitally influenced while 30-40 per cent of them will start or increase online search. New online buyers for home care, personal care and cosmetics have increased by 1.45, 1.3, and 1.35 times respectively. About 51 per cent of consumers are planning to increase online spend in the next six months on home care, 46 per cent on personal care and 43 per cent on cosmetics.

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