How the pandemic has changed our buying habits

man with trolley walking near fridge in supermarket
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Indians are more comfortable buying things the traditional way, where we can inspect everything with our eyes, nose and hands. Of course, and how can we forget our love for a good bargain! No shopping is complete without bargaining. While we’re still coming to terms with the ‘new normal’, the pandemic has changed Indian consumers’ purchasing habits and preferences.

The lockdown has affected many people economically especially through pay cuts. It has forced us to rethink our spending habits. We have become more vigilant and planned buyers. Unlike before, when we indulged in impulsive buying, today we are asking ourselves what to buy and when. A recent article published in The Indian Express shared that almost 91% of Indians have admitted that the pandemic has changed their buying habits with an increase in online spending up to 48%.

Amid the lockdown, e-commerce was thriving as more people have been opting for contactless deliveries and online payments due to safety concerns. More so, reduced travelling time, travel cost and of course, the convenience of items being delivered to our doorstep were other reasons too. This change in purchasing habits is going to remain post lockdown too. We have started to adopt and explore a whole new medium of experiences that we never thought of or rather feared.

In my research of our latest buying patterns, here’s what I have identified. Today, we as consumers are spending on these six categories:

  1. Essential Items – Groceries, Vegetables, Fruits, Dairy
  2. Health Products – Immunity boosters, Vitamins and Health Supplements
  3. Hygiene Products – Household Cleanser, Soap, Hand Sanitizers, Disinfectants, mask
  4. Appliances – Laptop, Home Entertainment Systems, Mobile
  5. Personal Care Products – Hair Colour, Trimmers
  6. Virtual World – Social Media, Streaming Subscriptions, Sopping, Online Classes, DIY activities
anonymous black female in mask and gloves shopping in supermarket
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Essential Items

During the lockdown, when everything shut down, it forced everyone to stay indoors. As most people are spending time indoors, it links directly to the increased groceries consumption. People have become more concerned about their health and what they are consuming. There has been an increase in spending on fresh vegetables, fruits and dairy products as people are shifting from unhealthy foods towards healthy eating.

Immunity Boosting Products

During the pandemic, the health industry has witnessed exemplary growth as people are spending more on health supplements and immunity-boosting products. One of the most loved and popular immunity boosters among Indians is ‘Chywanprash’. Did you know, that the sale of Chywanprash increased by 700% in June 2020 across India? It is believed that it is going to remain so even after the pandemic!

Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay 

Hygiene Products

Amid the crisis, people are concerned about their health but also trying to keep their surroundings sanitized, if not neat and clean due to fear of the virus. People are now prioritising hygiene and sanitiser products which are now on top of their shopping lists and spending much more than ever on household cleaners, soaps, hand sanitisers, masks and disinfectants. In March 2020, the sale of hand sanitisers shot up to 144%, followed by a 42% rise in the demand for liquid handwash.

Electronic Appliances

As we’re spending more time at home due to restricted movement, people are now moving to more indoor leisure activities such as cooking, baking, spending more time on laptops and mobiles. While electronic appliances sold quadruples during lockdown last year, the demand for laptops has doubled. The demand for household appliances such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines and dishwashers also shot up because the crisis kept domestics helpers away.

Personal Care Products

With saloon doors being shut during the pandemic, the demand for hair colouring products, hair trimmers, epilators that can be easily used at home also shot up. In fact, several beauty brands have noticed an almost 30% rise in their online sales during the lockdown.

boy in white long sleeve shirt playing computer game
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Virtual Classrooms & Meetings

People are using this tool for social media interaction, digital streaming, online classes, video conferencing, online shopping and payments. Strangely, the pandemic has led to digitising India more aggressively and the country has witnessed an increase in data consumption by rural India by 100% during the 2020 lockdown.

As said, when one door closes, there is always another open door that we need to discover. Similarly, when the outside world closes its door, people discovered a whole new virtual door. It helped to connect with everything while maintaining social distancing norms. People are using more virtual tools to find and interact with new businesses and experiences.

What’s more, India witnessed 70% new online streaming subscriptions which is much bigger than the global subscription of 47%. Not to forget, an increase in online mobile recharges by 50% in 2020 indicates the shift of consumer preferences.

The new behaviour adapted by the consumer is going to continue post-pandemic. People have become more mindful of what they are buying. The positive side of this crisis has in some way proved to be a blessing in disguise. People have started to see life in a completely new manner. It has made us more vigilant, opportunists, risk-takers and fast learners. This experience has made us ready to welcome a future much before time. What we would have learned and adopted probably 10 years down the line, we have learned today. We have started to embrace technology more than ever. With companies being able to understand the new consumer behaviour, they’re now willing to incorporate the change to meet consumer demands and be successful.

Sonal Srivastava

Contributor: Sonal Srivastava

About our Writing Program Student
A simple yet strong and emotional girl, Sonal a fitness enthusiast firmly believes in healthy living. She loves travelling and exploring new places and being a foodie, loves to cook! For her, spending time and energy reading, listening to music, watching movies with friends and family is a an investment of a lifetime.


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The Lifestyle Portal

Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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