How COVID transformed India’s consumers

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic has ensured some transformative changes in the shopping behaviour of urban Indian households. They were seen to be shopping more online, purchasing more home-cleaning products, increasing consumption of alcohol and stockpiling groceries in 2020, according to findings of a global research conducted by YouGov across 17 markets.

The white paper – International FMCG report 2021 – is based on over 18,000 interviews. It reveals key trends and changes brought about by the pandemic on consumption habits across households in 2020. A total of 1,019 consumers were surveyed in urban India, and 81% of them admitted that the pandemic had changed their shopping habits. This was only bettered by Mexico, where 83% consumers agreed with the hypothesis.

In 2020, urban Indians purchased more dairy items (53%) while consumption of chilled ready meals remained stable. Two-thirds (66%) increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables while only 8% reported a decline. Consumption of alcohol increased for three in ten urban Indians (29%). Over a third (36%) of urban Indians reported a decrease in their purchase of personal care and cosmetics products.

More than 60% of the respondents said that they bought items in bulk in 2020 and more than 70% also agreed to buying more home-cleaning products.

YouGov India’s Deepa Bhatia commented, “The COVID-19 pandemic has created both challenges and opportunities for brands operating within the broad FMCG sector. The data highlights significant changes in consumer sentiment and behaviour. Notably, there is a shift to remote purchasing, as well as affinity towards local businesses among urban Indians because of the ongoing crisis.” However, she said it is yet to be seen whether these changes will be more permanent in nature.

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