Immunity boosters to comfort food: How Indians are spending during coronavirus pandemic

NEW DEHLI: The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the spending habits of millions in India and most other countries across the globe. The deadly virus has not only altered how people spend but has also impacted preferences, with many now buying products dedicated to boosting health and immunity. The number of cleanliness products on household shelves have also increased significantly.
Since eating out does not seem a viable option at the moment, comfort food has witnessed a sharp demand in India. Spending more time at home has also resulted in increased spending on digital services.
The changed spending patterns may continue for the long haul as the pandemic worsens in the absence of a vaccine.
Now, let’s move on and find out how Indians have been spending on during the pandemic.
Indians rush to boost immunity & health
Since the coronavirus started spreading in India, consumers have shown keen interest in safeguarding their health and boosting their immunity.
According to a report published in Bloomberg, companies such as Dabur India Limited and The Himalaya Drug Co. are witnessing high demand for traditional products like chyawanprash, which is a cooked containing honey, sugar, ghee, herbs and spices. Proprietary supplements like Septilin which combines Ayurvedic ingredients like liquorice and guduchi are also in demand.
Chyawanprash sales across the industry grew a staggering 283 per cent in June and branded honey rose 39 per cent, according to Nielsen Holdings.
Dabur India said its chyawanprash sales surged a mammoth 700 per cent from April to June.
Sameer Shukla, west market leader at Nielsen South Asia, told Bloomberg that the surge in spending is likely to continue for the next few months.
“We saw very clear trends in terms of consumer ask — people would like to spend more on immunity boosters, health hygiene and stuff like that,” Shukla said. “This kind of ask is not a short-term one,” said Shukla.
Demand for protective equipment like facemasks, gloves, sanitisers also surged sharply due to the pandemic.
Packaged food
Since eating out no longer remains a safe option in the country due to rising Covid-19 cases — more than 60,000 cases were reported in the country today — people are now spending more on packaged food. Sales of such foods have surged since March.
From breakfast cereals to instant noodles and rice, there has been a sharp demand for packaged food products. Nestle India, the maker of the popular Maggi noodles, saw revenue grow by over 10 per cent in the quarter ended March. Nestle’s KitKat and Munch chocolates also saw an impressive rise in sales during the pandemic, added the report citing data provided Heating Securities Co analysts Gaurang Kakkad and Premal Kamdar.
And who can forget the family-favourite Parle-G? The iconic biscuit brand registered record sales during April and May.
Another iconic product for Indian families, Parle Products Pvt.’s Parle-G biscuits, logged record sales during April-May. Britannia Industries, too, has emerged as a major gainer amid the ongoing pandemic.
Experts who spoke to Bloomberg fell that the shift from unorganised/street food to packaged foods shows how Indians have drastically changed their spending habits.
Digital life
Life has truly become digital during the coronavirus pandemic. From work to studies and even entertainment, it is almost impossible to leave the “digital” aspect aside.
And since face-to-face interaction seems to be off the table — at least till the vaccine is out — it is not surprising that most India’s are now relying on digital services and products.
It has come to light that the number of new students using the online education startup Byju’s grew at three times the usual pace between April and June. The company is formulating plans for retaining new users including launching courses in vernacular languages and launching more subjects.
Online marketplace Flipkart said there has been an exponential search for laptops on its website and app since March. High-performance laptops emerged as the most popular search.
OTT platforms like Netflix, ZEE5, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Hotstar have also witnessed good business during the lockdown.
Consumer appliances & grooming products
Indians who still have the money to spend on excesses during the pandemic are likely to contribute to higher sales of consumer appliances, shows data.
Searches for white goods such as juicers, mixers, microwaves and toasters quadrupled in July, according to Flipkart. Demand for hygiene-based appliances like vacuum cleaners was almost four times higher than pre-covid levels.
The coronavirus pandemic has also made it extremely risky for individuals to go for a haircut or a beard trim. There has been a sharp rise in demand for trimmers including men’s grooming kits.

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