Consumers may bid final adieu to pre-Covid ways of shopping

A survey has said that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to alter the consumer behaviour permanently and cause lasting structural changes to the consumer goods and retail industries.

The demand for local goods and brands is growing as consumers are hesitant to step out of their safety zones to resume previous consumption patterns, according to Accenture COVID-19 Consumer Pulse Research report.

The survey polled 2,500 consumers in India among 45,000 respondents globally, between March and June, it said.

"The India leg of the survey found that 90 per cent of consumers are making lasting changes to how they live, work and shop, and there is no going back to the pre-pandemic world for consumer brands," the report said.

The survey found that the pandemic is causing more people to shop for groceries online.

The demand for local products, digital commerce and omnichannel services such a home delivery, chat features and virtual consultations is surging, and is likely to endure beyond this crisis, it said.

Consumers are now focused on their most basic needs while cutting back on nonessentials, the report said.

"They are more mindful of what they are buying, striving to limit food waste, shopping more cost consciously and are making healthier and environmentally sustainable choices," it said.

As many as 85 per cent of the consumers in India said that they are shopping more health-consciously and are focusing more on limiting food waste.

While, 75 per cent of consumers said they are being more cost-conscious when shopping for products and 71 per cent feel that quality, safety and trust are the most considered brand attributes in purchase decisions.

A majority of respondents are now focusing on their personal health, it said.

"Staying-at-home and working from home are becoming the norm. The ways in which people spend their leisure time are changing because of the outbreak and related social distancing measures, and again, these habits are likely to continue," it said.

Entertainment, learning and DIY (do it yourself) have also seen a rise -- this trend is reflected in the types of apps that consumers are downloading and the devices they are purchasing, related to entertainment, news, healthcare and education, the survey said.

Anurag Gupta, Managing Director and Lead - Strategy & Consulting, Accenture in India, said: "The pandemic has taken a toll on brand loyalty and as consumers make more socially and environmentally sustainable and healthy choices, consumer goods companies must tailor their offerings accordingly and refresh their brand promise to meet these new requirements." Brands will also need to explore ways to rebuild consumer confidence frayed by the pandemic -- proof of good hygiene and safety is becoming a key part of brands 'ability to retain shoppers' trust.

"Brands also need to look at ways to tap into the opportunities resulting from the demand for local and the emergence of the home as the new hub," he said.

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