Changing consumer behaviour a challenge for retail CEOs: FICCI-PwC report

The industry and government jointly have to find innovative solutions to satisfy consumer demand.

Backed by increasing household incomes, the younger profile of consumers and growing access to the internet, the Indian consumer behaviour is changing fast – which is posing a challenge for CEOs in the retail and consumer goods sector, said a joint report, titled ‘Shaping Consumer Trends’ by industry body FICCI and PwC.

“The shift in purchase behaviour towards online buying, dominated by mobile phones, has been very evident over the last few years. Preferences are now clearly extending beyond the original product categories of electronics and fashion to include food and grocery as well as local origin products,” it added.

Harish Bhat, Member GEC, Tata Sons, said that the march of digitalization was changing the consumer profile in the country as by 2020, close to 220 million consumers will be online shoppers, a six-fold increase from now. He added that the key consumer trends indicated that health and wellness were a major requirement of the consumers and digital connectivity was driving this demand. He suggested that industry and government come together to find innovative solutions to satisfy consumer demand.

Consumers are now seeking a clutter and trouble-free experience, enabled by technology and better quality sales people. “Cash-rich and time-starved consumers are seeking a new dimension in ‘convenience by knowledge’ to help them navigate to the right products and services that are relevant for them,” the report added.

Anurag Mathur, Partner and Leader – Consumer & Retail, PwC India, said, "India is in a strong position in the world where a growing consumption capacity, demographic shape and lifestyle changes will propel double digit growth for consumer business over the next decade. However, the Indian consumers’ selective participation in global consumption trends & concerns coupled with local infrastructure challenges will require a unique response from companies to win and leapfrog on the growth cycle.”

India has come a long way in regulating its policies and promoting ease of doing business, and has huge potential for growth in the sector.

Krish Iyer, Chairman, FICCI Retail and Internal Trade Committee said, “The continued focus on ease of doing business by the Government augurs very well for India’s industries across sectors. We’re seeing a lot of reforms by the government, not only related to FDI, but also for removing several structural & systemic bottlenecks.”

“So while India remains one of the most attractive markets for businesses worldwide due to its favorable demographics, size of the population, growing purchasing power and the growing consuming class, effective implementation of the progressive policy reforms will further boost the economy and create an ease of doing business environment in its true spirit,” he added.

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