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How Consumers Will Change In Post-Covid Era?

Indian consumers have not gone through a deep traumatic pandemic. Our deaths per million are 83. This needs to be compared with the US (678), France (513), UK (642). So, our reality is different from these countries.

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No one ever thought that life can be subjected to a lockdown. Will it change our consumer behavior? To take a punt on the un-predictable future (clear lesson from 2020) let us see what we as consumers have gone through. 

No, Indian consumers have not gone through a deep traumatic pandemic. Our deaths per million are 83. This needs to be compared with the US (678), France (513), UK (642). So, our reality is different from these countries. 

But Indian consumer is shaken too. Sudden lockdown, urban job losses, salary cuts, migrant crisis, supply disruptions, school closures have been real shocks. There is real experiential learning that will go into our family folklore. First, we experienced the dependability of local grocer, sabjiwala, doodhwala etc all. Suddenly they were the only ones bringing essential goods to our homes. 

Second, we experienced the digital world. People started buying online, paying digital. It is said the coronavirus achieved for digital payments what demonetisation could not. 

Third, we discovered our homes. Suddenly, families were forced to cook meals at home, everyday. Hopefully, many Indian men pitched in. We went back to crafts; we (re)discovered that so many things could me made by hand. We realised that our homes need to be better; more ‘workstations’ are needed; and walls need paintings and decoration.

Fourth, we experienced our community. Obscure neighbours became chefs. WhatsApp groups came to our help on everything. People helped with medicines, medical aid, hobby tips, gardening tools and other things. Did you notice that by and large there was no steep price rise this time despite supply disruption? 

How are these experiences going to shape us as consumers and what will brands do? Few things are clear. Brands with a purpose will be in higher demand. It need not necessarily be a social purpose, but must have authenticity that comes out in conduct. This trend coupled with digitalisation of marketing and availability of capital may lead to niche brands challenging traditional champions. 

Consumers will want to engage with their brands a lot more. This may imply deeper experiences at stores and online. They will want to know how the brand makes a difference. Allowing consumers to co-create will deepen trust. Brands must have a digital face. You need to have your story in digital and accessible. This will also be a great equaliser. Differences in consumer behavior between Tier-1 and Tier-4 cities will shrink. 

We are trying to respond to our evolving consumers. Already, has grown 3x over last year since the unlock. Our digital footprint helped us to keep the conversations with consumers going. Our service culture, which has always been front and centre, is getting translated across all mediums – stores, phone, live video, website, personal shopping. Through new digital tools, such as creating a personalised selection of products, we can serve our consumers across all tiers at the same level. 

Consumers will be back and in a strong way. In November 1918, right in the middle of the Spanish flu pandemic, the London Palladium did great business. People could not resist their need for entertainment. Assured by ‘ozone ventilating system’ and spray of germ killers people filled the theatre. Remember, the coronavirus has been far less deadly.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Amit Pande

Brand Head, The Collection & International Brands, Aditya Birla Fashion

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