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How consumer behavior is changing during Covid-19 pandemic

The customers themselves are adhering to norms that are gradually making the shopping and selling experience hassle free and more streamlined. The shift in the consumers’ attitude is a welcome change for sure.

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The Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented lockdown induced by it has brought about some phenomenal behavioral changes in our lifestyle. To start with, we no longer venture out of our homes without a mask on face and sanitizer in pocket. Over the past few months, we have spent most of our time inside our homes and markets have remained closed for the longest period at a stretch. This has also impacted our preferences with regard to shopping. We no longer have the leisure to throng the marketplaces and malls at our will and indulge in a shopping spree. In fact, the new consumer behaviors span all areas of life, from how we shop to how we work and how we entertain ourselves.

These rapid shifts have had significant implications for retailers as well as consumer packaged goods companies. The consumer behavior is basically settling into the new normal, and so is that of enterprises and business of all magnitude and scale.

Necessity-based buying

A number of people have either lost their jobs or are working on reduced salaries since the outbreak of the pandemic, and such developments have had a direct impact on the purchasing power of the consumers. Several people are left with no option but to spend only on essential commodities. Apart from the depleted purchasing power, it is also about the change in consumer behavior. For many, shopping used to be a great stress buster, but in the prevailing scenario, heading to the market itself is a matter of stress. All these factors have led to a growing phenomenon of necessity-based buying.

Dim Diwali sales

Diwali is a festival that’s celebrated with much fervor in India. It is also the time of the year when companies flood the markets with the best and latest offerings. Ahead of the festival of lights, we buy new clothes, gifts for near and dear ones, and also capitalize on the massive festive discounts being offered to buy appliances or stuff for home. However, this time it’s a dim Diwali as far as shopping is concerned. The sales across all segments, including the textile and apparel industry, are quite low as compared to the previous year.

Lesser parties, lesser party-wear

With thousands of Covid cases still being diagnosed each day, people are wary of hosting get-togethers and parties. A severe impact of it is being felt on one of the most popular segments of the T&A industry, i.e. partywears. Even as marriages are also being held with least possible number of guests, it has dealt a big blow to the industry. There’s no more shopping carnival-like situation in the market at present. The euphoria associated with shopping for parties and marriage-like occasions does not appear to exist as of now.

Changed expectations

Any consumer or buyer today is very particular about where they head for shopping. They make it a point that defined protocols such as sanitization and social distancing are being followed in the strictest possible manner. This has resulted in an increased expenditure for businesses and enterprises. A store owner today must ensure that his premise is repeatedly being sanitized and all necessary precautions are in place, thereby adding to the expenses. For instance, after each garment is kept aside after every trial and restored on its hanger only after proper sanitization.

The silver lining/Disciplined buying

While the cons are plenty, there are a few pros as well. The whole process has brought about some positive changes in the consumer behavior. The customers have become much more patient than earlier. For example on billing desks, they do not need to be reminded time and again for following cues. The customers themselves are adhering to norms that are gradually making the shopping and selling experience hassle free and more streamlined. The shift in the consumers’ attitude is a welcome change for sure.

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.


Tags assigned to this article:
consumerism consumer COVID-19

Surya Suri

The author is Director, Steele collection

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