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Indian Consumers Experience A Fundamental Change In Behavior Driven By Health, Privacy & Hyper-localization: EY Report

As the country moves to the next and beyond horizon of the pandemic, the study cites that a large part of the population will continue to remain cautious, with most transactional activities like shopping in a mall, travelling, eating out, going to the theatre etc. continuing to be at halt.

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Indian consumers experience a fundamental change in behavior driven by health, privacy and hyper-localization, according to the latest EY study “Life in a pandemic”. The study explores areas where a major shift has occurred in the general behavior of consumers and has transformed the way we work, study, live and play which includes digital acceleration, hyperlocal and online communities, healthy living, digital content consumption and privacy & safety.  

According to the survey, 80% of respondents stated they are eating healthier and strictly eating only home-cooked meals; about 94.5% of respondents have accepted work from home (WFH) as the new normal, with 55% stating that they are likely to advocate for WFH post the pandemic; and about 80% students have shifted to online education and 46% are open to continuing with online learning post the pandemic. 

The findings are based on the survey responses of 2,033 Indian consumers across the urban, adult population across India. Social interactions have undergone a sea change with widespread adoption of digital apps with 78% respondents using video conferencing platforms to stay connected with friends and family. The findings indicate that consumers are experiencing positive changes in their physical and mental health as a result of new behaviors adopted during the pandemic. 65% respondents stated that increased family time has strengthened their relationships. Majority continue to feel overwhelmed by uncertainties clouding the future. Nevertheless, they indicate an intention to continue their newly adopted behaviors post COVID-19.   

Shashank Shwet, Partner - Customer Experience and Design Thinking, EY India, said, “There is a clear paradigm shift in consumer behavior towards online, even in traditionally offline categories. Consumers are ‘cocooning’ at home to keep themselves safe from the pandemic. To win in adversity, companies need to tailor strategies to today’s unique context. Brands that will be nimble enough to capture the pulse of these changes, make timely alterations to their modus operandi and add digital and convenience as a service will thrive in these unprecedented scenarios” 

According to the report, the lockdown has brought in a slew of changes in consumer’s behavior: 

  1. Sensitivity to anxiety caused by the pandemic is the need of the hour: 70% of the population continues to grapple with fear and anxiety. Therefore, brands must exercise caution and practice empathy while serving customers. 
  2. Health and fitness are top of mind: With mental wellbeing becoming a major priority, there was a steep uptick in consumption of online fitness and health programs. Online doctor consultations gained momentum too, with 32% respondents having availed these services. 80% of the population continues to focus on improving their eating habits with 56% engaging in housework and 32% are participating in home workouts. 
  3. Interactions with local community: While consumers are leveraging digital tools to stay connected, it was observed that 55% of the respondents encouraged each other to adhere to the lockdown. Local communities are back in spotlight with 1/5th wanting to be more connected to their neighbours. 
  4. Consumers are postponing big-ticket expenses: Around 43% of respondents stated that they will reduce big ticket spends across categories like automobile, travel and consumer durables.  
  5. Consumers are concerned about their online safety: 79% respondents reported that they avoid visiting unknown websites and services. Further, to protect their identity, they refrain from sharing personal data and frequently delete cookies. 


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marketing world COVID-19 EY Report Shashank Shwet