COVID impact on consumer behavior

The unprecedented pandemic has impacted the world in many ways. Over the last six months, we have seen measures to contain and limit the impact of a disease that has affected so many Indians. It has changed many things from an economic, social, and behavioral point of view. Social distancing, lockdown and other such terms are of common usage today.

One of the profound changes, has been the transformation of the home. No longer a place to simply come back to, it has transformed into an office, a classroom, and many more such places. Likewise, its denizens have also changed in many ways. One of them has been the according of priority to health and well-being by those staying in their homes as they look to defeat a pandemic the likes of which has not been seen in recent history.

Personal care and wellbeing are at the core of consumer’s decision-making journey

As the pandemic started gathering momentum with the subsequent announcement of a nationwide lockdown, Gulbahar Taurani outdoor activities grinded to a halt. In a paradigm shift, professionals started working from home, often juggling between household chores and deadlines. They were joined by entrepreneurs, students and many others from different work streams, who were now working remotely. Then there were the others – children, teenagers, housewives, and retirees. As containment measures were enforced, what was observed was that people wanted to stay healthy, stay occupied and keep their spirits high even as they were confined to their households. What are the options when they know they cannot step out, shop, or socialize? They learnt to cook a variety of dishes and picked up grooming skills overnight.  YouTube videos on DIY haircuts and Google searches seeking electronic devices that could replicate the salon-like experience at home, became popular. Consumers were now less dependent on the need to go out to look good, feel healthy or add some spice to their menus.

This led to an unprecedented demand for gadgets for use in the kitchen and for personal grooming. At a time when restrictions were the norm, Philips tools made lives easier, as they provide viability, comfort of use, and help in getting desired results within the safety of homes. If Do-It-Yourself was a popular trend, then recent times have made it a must have skill.

Brands have taken a consumer-centric approach to address this behavioral change 

Brands were quick to spot this behavioral change in consumers as they looked to stay healthy and maintain their personal wellbeing in the current backdrop. Taking a consumer-centric approach to develop deeper relationships, brands deployed a lot more innovation in a short period giving consumers the best possible experience and the highest levels of satisfaction. This resulted from investment in understanding consumer trends, building awareness, and creating positive conversations with consumers to drive after-sales experiences. For instance, noting a shift to virtual alternatives, brands created online experiences and engagements to help consumers build positive associations with their changed lifestyles. Brands then moved ahead and introduced innovative product solutions to help consumers constructively use their time and build new routines at home. This included a plethora of DIY product launches in the personal grooming, female beauty, and kitchen appliances categories.

At Philips, we recognized and affirmed this new social norm early on and we utilized this period to understand our consumers in a better way and spot insights that led us to come up with consumer-centric solutions.  We placed the practical and emotional needs of our consumers and focused on introducing innovations to help them maintain their personal well-being. To illustrate the prevalence of the behavior change and make consumers feel less conscious, we created campaigns to build a deeper connect with our consumers and make them a part of our journey.

New Ways in the New Normal

With the gradual re-opening of the economy, we are seeing a considerable improvement in consumer sentiments. We experienced an initial surge, as there was a pent-up demand for household appliances and personal grooming products. DIY has become ‘the new normal’ and a trend that will stay and will continue to drive demand across segments. While metros led the initial surge, we are now seeing an uptick across different regions of the country including Tier I & Tier II markets.

With the onset of the festive season, we expect the positive momentum to continue and increase multifold. Festive celebration is likely to become a stronger personal and family affair with a strong DIY trend that will fuel purchases in all product segments. At times like these, brands that are trustworthy and innovative will win the confidence of consumers as they look to spend their hard earned money on good quality products that add value to their lives.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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