Segments such as spices, salty snacks, noodles, talc, dishwasher, insecticides, toilet and bathroom cleaners, have seen penetration as the number of households buying the product increased 600-1,000 basis points since the pandemic started last year.
Nearly a dozen consumer goods categories have seen a massive surge in their post-pandemic penetration after increased demand forced companies to widen their reach, especially in rural markets, according to Kantar's latest report.
Many of these segments had gradual or stagnant penetration growth rate pre-covid, which was reversed as sudden demand for the products such as hygiene and packaged food took precedence during the initial months of lockdown.
"The pandemic caused a few clear changes in behaviour. The fundamental motivation for these could have been fear, caution or even boredom. Many of these seemed temporary. However, some behavioural themes seemed to have stuck even after, as we believe, we are in the safer end of the pandemic," said K Ramakrishnan, Managing Director, South Asia, Kantar Worldpanel Division.
Companies also said snacking became essential during the first wave when consumers hunkered down in their homes due to coronavirus-related restrictions, but now the habit is entrenched even after mobility improved.
"With online work and school, snacking occasions went up and consumers also have more time at their disposal. Just like binge-watching, we also see binge snacking, which also reflects in higher sales of larger packs," said Krishnarao Buddha, Senior Category Head, Parle Products.
There were also increased sales of other packaged food categories as consumers tried to offset out-of-home consumption with indulgent cooking, experts believe. While the high growth rate has tapered off after hotels and restaurants opened, the penetration has not fallen to the same extent yet.
Hindustan Unilever, the country’s top fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) maker, saw a decline in sales of hand sanitisers and hand wash in the last quarter but maintained people will stick to habits that will help check the spread of viruses even after the pandemic.
“The heightened awareness of hygiene will not border on obsessiveness like it did last year, but it will certainly become a very important behaviour point going forward,” said Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman, HUL.