The havoc brought in by the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our style of living. If we look around us, there has been an evolution in almost every sphere. The pandemic has not only changed consumer attitudes but there has been a drastic shift in their purchasing habit patterns. The experts feel that the changes will sustain in the post-pandemic era also.
Consumer behavior shuffled overnight as health and safety concerns suddenly became a purchase driver. We saw technological adoption taking place at a rapid pace which would have normally taken years. COVID-19’s continued effects will be felt even after the pandemic subsides. The new behavior isn’t limited to high-income households or consumers in India’s biggest, most sophisticated cities. Indeed, people who live in India’s smaller tier II and tier III cities are almost as likely to exhibit the behavior as those in the country’s tier I cities and metros.
In every country, consumer behavior differs due to the varying internal and external factors forming the basis. A lot has been talked about how the pandemic has changed the decision-making process among customers. Today, people have become very attentive and they prefer to explore online before making their minds. This transformation has not only been confined to urban or metropolitan cities but in Tier markets also people prefer to gain knowledge first and then buy the product.
Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 has created a new or revived behavioral understanding of buying, indicating a conscious shift towards quality and value-based products. Another aspect of the pandemic is, there is fear and disgust among people, and in response to these emotions, people are generally looking for trusted products of familiar brands. This clearly showcases how different emotions influence consumer choices which have become a key in developing an effective marketing and sales strategy - during the pandemic and beyond.
So, the economic downturn that the pandemic has brought has made most of the consumers wary about their shopping expenditures, particularly their ‘discretionary’ spending. This phenomenon has resulted that consumers have become enough cautious while spending or purchasing something. The decision is more value-conscious rather than price-conscious.
The need and aspiration among classes for the product purchase cycle are changing rapidly. At a time when people look for price-based products, there is a shift where customers are giving equal importance to the quality content of the product they will buy. This has compelled them to pay more for good-quality products. In principle, consumers have become significantly more conscious and willing to search for the best prices and deals.
There is an increased demand for quality-based goods (and preferably looks for local products also) as consumers seek out products they feel they can trust. There is also a growing preference for sustainable and healthy products. Hence, COVID-19 has led consumers to shop mindfully.
Apart from this, consumer durable appliances have become an intrinsic part of their lives. Consumers are no longer willing to compromise on the quality of products they buy as they cannot afford constant malfunctions and repairs. The trend being witnessed is the inclination of consumers towards multi-purpose, timesaving, high-quality, value-additive products.
The lifecycle of a consumer durable is generally assumed to be five to 10 years or more; people prefer to spend a good amount of money so the product has a good life span. This is implying on brands have a robust service network.
As per GFK Consumer Insights Engine, 21 percent of Indians have shown a greater propensity to buying a newer or better product even before the existing one becomes obsolete. With the significant rise in disposable income and middle-class aspirational spending, it is exciting to note that first-time purchasers are spending more on products like consumer durables, technology-driven gadgets, etc. This emerging category of customers is not only a reflection of evolving lifestyles and preferences but the deepening penetration of consumer durables and computing devices category beyond metros.
The term value is not just defined by price, but also the benefits to the consumer - does the product solve a problem, or what health and ethical attributes does the product have?
The pandemic has made consumers take a step back, think about how we are living, and realize how we can do better. The acceleration of social and environmental concerns, protecting the health and well-being of the family and society will be the new normal. Consumers are thinking carefully about their purchases and the money they spend.