How the second wave of the pandemic is affecting consumer behaviour?

Lokendra Ranawat, co-founder & CEO, WoodenStreet, talks about changing consumer patterns in many sectors, and what businesses can do about it.
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The devastating second wave that has hit the country has had an impact on every sector, more so the healthcare industry. Subsequently, there is an exponential increase in rate of infectious cases reported every day, leading to the demand for oxygen supplies, and shortage of beds in hospitals.

On June 18th 2020, India had recorded 11,000 cases, and then on added 35,000 new cases on an average daily. Almost six months later, on February 11th, 2021 (the commence of the second wave), India was reporting 3,00,000 and more cases on an average every day.

After the first wave in 2020, and once the country gradually unlocked in June 2020, India’s had economy and business saw some growth. But, the second wave has turned around the trends of consumer preferences, and this time the impact on businesses is expected to be much more severe. 

On comparing the trends between the first and second wave, here are some key insights on consumer behaviour that are beginning to emerge through the second wave.

Adoption of digital services

“The evolving social and digital media platforms and highly innovative and relevant payment capabilities are causing seismic changes in consumer behaviour and creating equally disruptive opportunities for business.”

-        Howard Schultz

With this, there is a return of positive growth in digital business services in 2021, from shopping to entertainment and from fitness to educational sectors and many more. Whether it is about online sessions or watching videos on OTT platforms, an overall drift is observed. 

Undeniably, India has triggered massive digitisation during the first wave. “Marketing in the era of mobile” reports, India has recorded around 14 percent of the global mobile app installations in the last year. As a result, India is seeing one startup turning into a unicorn every 11 days. 

Purchasing behaviour

One notices considerable changes in the purchasing behaviour of consumers in India. A move to local brands is on the rise. There has also been a huge increase in groceries bought online. Research also suggests that Indian consumers are more likely to support local and small businesses as compared to their global counterparts.

Mobility patterns 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also driven changes in the mobility patterns of the consumers.

Reportedly, on January 6th 2020, there was 2.9 percent decrease in the flight frequency weekly but a year on, on 6th January 2021, 36.4 percent decrease has been seen in the flight frequency per week, according to Statista 2021. Consumers’ mobility patterns have also adversely impacted all modes of public transports like buses, railway lines, auto-rickshaws etc. 

Health awareness

This rapid rise of the second wave also raised awareness of health and safety regimes. More people tend to follow a healthy and organic lifestyle now than earlier. The most significant change in behaviour is seen with more people wearing masks. They are also staying home despite concerns of economic crises.

Being at home, many people are also experimenting with cooking different kinds of cuisines, as the option to go out and dine has come to a stand standstill. Restaurants are not giving up though, as they cater to home deliveries. Many restaurants have launched mini and smart packages to maintain their revenue.

In other industry news, and on a happier note, unemployment rate in India surged down to 6.53% in January 2021 from 9.06% in December 2020.

Attitude behavioural change in consumers 

The catastrophic state of affairs following the second wave of COVID-19 also shows us that we in India were not prepared. The constant gloom and doom surrounding the second wave has led to people experiencing mental health issues including depression, stress and anxiety, which in turn affects consumer behaviour.

Thanks to digitisation in India, a plethora of edtech platforms, ecommerce companies and other industrial management transformations have taken places. It is vital for businesses to understand customer preferences and stay relevant accordingly in this second wave.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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