It’s an old, time-tested, and proven adage, “bigger the challenges, larger the opportunities and hidden rewards are”, and “bigger and deeper the crisis, more vibrant, divergent, and life-changing the ensuing ecosystem becomes”.
The post Covid19 world is slated to or is at least widely expected to change the way people think, believe, act, and live. The big question is- why should it change, and what should actually change, for better, off course! Some habits will change, and some new habits will be acquired, and this would be subject to elaborate research after a few months to identify new trends.
In the context of Marketing, we will have to very specifically observe and monitor if there have been stimuli to change certain consumer behaviour. The way we perceive, react and act, decide how we are going to take decisions and what changes we accept in our daily lives. Changes occur when we decide to let go of some long ingrained beliefs and behaviour.
In our area of work that we focus on, there are three key players or rather three ecosystem- Seller, Buyer, and Media, and within which there are various other supporting actors such as influencer, peer network, and technology that the stakeholders make use of to facilitate a decision that leads to buying a product or service.
I believe if Marketers can analyse the data from various sources for online and offline purchases made during the lockdown period in a particular geographical area, there would be many interesting insights to identify any strong or prominent shift from what the buying and consumption pattern were in the pre-lockdown period.
What we clearly see is that there would be more online purchases and more use of digital wallets even for physical in-shop purchases, as we have definitely observed reduced use of Bank ATMs. Within the online purchases, we see clearly two prominent services that have been in consistent demand; E-learning, and online physical workout and Yoga sessions – these two clearly point out towards a third segment, and that’s the enhanced acceptance to Nutrition and wellness products.
It also suggests without doubt that people are inherently tuned to react fast when they are subjected to any perceived or clear negative consequences of any pandemic or epidemic or of any crisis in general, which may affect their job, business or source of earning. Thus they acquire knowledge and upgrade their skills that can keep them competitive and in reckoning for new jobs or independent businesses.
As for the health enthusiasts, the current pandemic has further strengthened their motivation to keep continuing with the fitness regime that builds up their immunity and strength. We have also seen many new clients, even first movers to any fitness program, who have subscribed to online health and fitness sessions. And here comes another product category that seems definitely to become more acceptable by all, and this is of food & health supplements.
We know there are many companies promoting food & health supplements through local pharmacies, hypermarket stores, and also through online ecommerce platforms. Many companies also promote some high-end supplements and miracle foods through their Network marketers. This category, for sure, is going to fly high in months and years to come, and we can expect their cost to reduce as off-take grows.
So there are these triggers for long term benefits, through health and skill enrichment that would drive online purchase. And then there are online purchases driven by convenience that it offers. Traditional consumers who used to stress on physically seeing and feeling the product before buying will shift to online purchases for many products in consumer utility categories, be it groceries, and meat products, and even related to personal hygiene.
Another business area that this lockdown has been kind enough to promote is entertainment & gaming, and this has given boost to home entertainment in a big way. There is no doubt that most of us will throng to Multiplexes, and Malls once they open and are declared safe, because the charm and lure of that lifestyle is very difficult to substitute. Family and kids enjoying their favourite pizza, pastas and burgers in the food court after an entertaining movie is a simple and satisfying experience that can’t be replicated at home. But it’s also true that platforms such as Netflix, and Smule are bound to grow and some new entrants may also be expected. Socialising with gaming and fun are the buzzwords now, and present a theme hugely compelling with a great value proposition.
On the idea of people coming closer and bonding like never before, we see a great lot of emotionally driven actions that people are going to take. Community and society clubs facilitating kids’ engagement through learning and sports activities are supposed to rise. Another area that this pandemic has again highlighted is that of care of elderly people and adults within our homes and in society. We must be more loving and affectionate to them as they bring immense value and joy in our lives. And we can expect housewives engaging themselves in suggesting their great recipe for a delicious dish on YouTube, which is already a great platform to showcase your hidden talent.
Finally some not so great news for restaurants, as we see more take-away and home delivery of food rising, giving thrust to cloud kitchens. Restaurant business is going to be badly hit as they have already been stressed due to high real estate costs, and it would be very difficult to get people to eat out.
Overall, we must expect some healthy trend to appear, though it’s a little too early to predict anything. But the marketers must keep their eyes, ears and nose open and be mindfully active to decipher and decode a new business idea.