The Changed Indian Consumer

2020 was a standpoint that will be influencing many things over the next 10 years. Last year has led people to introspect about how they earn, spend and live. Bedrooms have turned into offices, couches revamped into home theaters, entrepreneurs are getting productive and creative using conventional things, and so did the consumers. There have been tremendous changes in various sectors with regards to preferences, buying behaviour and consumption patterns of an Indian consumer.

The changes observed in consumer behaviour are:

Food:

The emergence of the pandemic has affected the eating habits of Indian consumers in tremendous ways. Indians have become more aware of what they are putting into their bodies. During the pandemic, people resorted to having basic healthy food for survival due to the lack of availability of fancy raw materials. Though people do miss having Indian street food and the dining experience. Dining out was the most common activity which everyone resorted to connecting with their friends, family, colleagues etc. The demand and expectation of Indian consumers seem to be changed now:

  • The food industry is hugely affected as people are now more conscious about the COVID-19 dining etiquettes. For the first time, the discount seeking Indian customer has put something above price consideration. They are more focused on hygiene check and prefer paying extra for restaurants that have arrangements for social distancing, restricted entry allowances and contactless deliveries. Street food culture seems to have taken a backseat due to changed hygiene preferences.
  • There has been increased awareness about food intake and shifting onto healthy alternatives. Many people have resorted to try and experiment new dishes, learnt cooking from various online sources, moved to organic food and online grocery shopping. Buying grocery online with huge discounts is like a one-stop solution for Indian consumers to purchase their monthly requirements. Technology is booming in this sector in terms of providing customization, subscription for their daily needs, reminders etc so that they don’t lose on customers.

There has been an unexpected upsurge in the food delivery service. People see it as an alternative opportunity instead of dining out. Indian consumers are looking forward to bringing a restaurant like an experience at home which seems to be the new normal now. People now resort to packed food. This has led to new and creative ways to experience dining at home.

Shopping:

As the pandemic affected the routine lifestyle, there is a huge change seen in consumer’s buying behaviour. During the pandemic, consumers were restricted to buying only essential goods for their survival due to lack of money supply. The changed perception of the Indian consumer has led to changed buying behaviour in the following ways:

  • Brick and Mortar stores seem to have a hard hit in 2020. People are still afraid, so health and hygiene of a store is the most important deciding factor.
  • Some people are not comfortable with using trial rooms, visiting malls due to crowd, weekend sales. Thus, many businesses have shifted to digital platforms where they provide their product/services online and there is no retail store required. This has put a large hit on the booming E-Commerce industry.
  • After COVID-19 freeze, people have started shopping in vengeance. They resort to “revenge buying” or shopping out of desperation. This means buying not just essentials but also apparel, jewellery, crockery, home décor, gourmet food, clothing etc. Rise in this behaviour is especially seen during the festive season.
  • Out of every 5 people, 2 have done online shopping. People find it very convenient, hassle-free to shop online.

Customers seem to get a better experience when they do online shopping because of the large variety, detailed product description, reviews, personalized recommendation according to previous orders, user-friendly navigation, online payment, easy return policy etc. Thus, digital presence allows brand/company as a source of revenue for their product/service. Thus, entrepreneurs need to adopt a new business model that ensures these changing trends in consumer behaviour.

Remote Working and Learning:

Working patterns and learning behaviours have changed immensely due to the emergence of the pandemic. Indians who always preferred to work from the office with colleagues now had to work remotely from their home. Chasing the new trend of work from home seems to have its outcomes and setbacks as follows:

  • People preferred work from home because it saved on travelling time, free from the trouble of carrying lunch boxes, can do work in their comfortable home clothes, spend more time with families, flexible working hours etc.
  • Maintaining work-life balance seemed to have a better shape. Apparently, Indians have started missing the social presence of working in the office.

Remote learning provided with a scope for a continual learning experience with the ease of technology. Following are the trends seen in e-learning:

  • It provides versatility in time, making it famous during the process of learning. Owing to the rise in demand during the pandemic, many platforms have started offering their courses for free, where learners are happy to spend up to Rs. 1000 in their online classes.
  • The biggest obstacle people face is with seeking reliable and productive courses. Although e-learning is the future, students still urge for the essence of classroom learning over e-learning. 
  • Traditional classroom schooling is still the norm in India and it is equally important. The 4 per cent, which is not e-learning, is necessary to consider. To offer more and better courses, e-learning platforms must step up to an increase in this demand which is the need of the hour.
  • This is why, through video conferences, effective e-learning will have to go beyond replicating the experience of the classroom, but also provide resources that enable cooperation and engagement. Online course personalization would also help grow its success and attract a wider audience.

Thus, the Indian consumer has changed so quickly like never before. They have become more conscious and aware of everything. Advancements in technology for ease of wellness and adapting new trends of hygiene have glued the varied consumption patterns and buying behaviour of Indian consumers.

Author Name – Khyati Henia

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