The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally impacted our lives and changed the world as we know it. People are living differently, buying differently and in many ways thinking differently. The paper studies the consumer perception towards buying groceries pre lockdown and during lockdown. The Indian economy is undergoing significant growth in the FMCG sector including food, beverages, grains, cosmetics, etc. the paper found that the consumer attitudes, behaviour and purchasing habits are changing. Many of these new ways will remain post pandemic. While purchases are currently centred on the most basic needs, people are shopping more consciously, buying local, believing in old traditional buying patterns and embracing digital commerce.
The Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector is the 4th largest sector of the Indian economy. It is characterized by high turnover consumer packaged goods, i.e. goods that are produced, distributed, marketed and consumed within a short span of time. The FMCG industry in India has been dynamic and was undergoing significant change in the years leading up to the pandemic. The sector had been seeing a slow-down since mid-2018, with growth rates steadily declining for the past 15-18 months from the midteens to around half of that by Jan- Feb 2020. In this scenario, FMCG players had been trying to compete by way of price cuts and greater offers to consumers in the hope of gaining market share. This is especially true for urban India. As Covid-19 ravages health systems and economies around the world, the lockdown and its accompanying preventive measures in India have deeply impacted the FMCG industry. Indian retailers suffered a significant 71 per cent drop in demand, with no orders received by 95 per cent outlets in the first week of lockdown according to a report by Retail Intelligence platform.
The FMCG sector has been largely driven by “single serve on the go consumption” so this is something which is likely to undergo change. The covid-19 pandemic has triggered the entire FMCG sector which has to reset the button instead of restart. There is massive change in consumer behaviour which is largely driven by the adoption of technology and is likely to be the key drivers in the change.
In spite of best efforts to minimise all limitations that might creep in during the course of the research,
were certain constraints within which the research was completed. Since we were not able to take this
survey personally due to pandemic, our research has less use of qualitative data which provides deeper
insight into consumer attitudes and perceptions towards buying groceries. While this research proves that
there is an effect on consumer attitude, it doesn’t further define what these effects are. These effects, which
could be positive or negative, can be explored in detail using focus groups or interviews. The research was
based on secondary as well as primary data. Since the research is made on the impact of covid-19, there
was less data available on the internet, newspapers etc
There were hardly any research papers on the following topic. It’s not possible to go out and ask people to give their views, so we mailed questionnaires to our contacts and took help from them for this research. We did ask them to share it to their contacts for a better idea. There is inefficient use of qualitative data and use of more qualitative data will provide a deeper insight into consumer attitudes and perceptions towards buying groceries. While this research proves that there is an effect on consumer attitude, it doesn’t further define what these effects are. These effects, which could be positive or negative, can be explored in detail using focus groups or interviews. The following research is done on micro level, the questionnaires were sent to the people living in Mumbai.
The final judgment is about the outcome of the forecast. In general, causal models are beneficial as
external factors are considered, however a much higher level of data is generally required. Furthermore,
qualitative methods consider the business environment, when generating a forecast, as an important
aspect for recognizing information related to specific events (e.g. promotions, customer feedback on new
products) and changes in demand pattern, which are not perceived by statistical models. The obvious and
popular forecasting techniques for causal models are multiple regression models, econometric models
and multivariate auto regressive integrated moving average (MARIMA) models (Kilger & Wagner, 2015,
p. 135) list eight products that integrate this service, either directly to the consumer or via Terracycle, a
company who facilitate recycling on behalf of partner FMCG companies.
However, in the unique case of Fujifilm, the photo development process counts as a take-back service both for recycling and reuse (Zeeuw van der Laan & Aurisicchio 2019; Grant & Banomyong, 2010). Nonetheless, the reality is that end users of FMCG companies, as large as Unilever, face frequent stockouts in the downstream supply chain. A study on demand forecasting system revealed that forecast accuracy varies with a skill level of individuals, and modifications by functional managers (Alvarado-Valencia, 64 Barrero, Önkal and Dennerlein, 2017). The research gap found in this study is that regarding the generation of awareness regarding the selected FMCG products in the rural areas by the retail marketers. There is a contradiction in the various studies done till now regarding the demographics, preference, major influencers, availability of the brand and the role of media in the preference for a brand in the villages.
There were very few studies on the rural consumers of Gujarat with respect to FMCG products. Thus it is in this study, the analysis on the awareness of the selected FMCG products in the rural areas with specific reference to the villages in the state of Gujarat. (Ali, Thumiki & Khan, 2010) Evaluates the impact of advertising on the market of consumer durables, it was found out that the friends are the major influence that was followed by the relatives and therefore they have to be provided while planning of the promotional strategies. (Bhanumathi and Hemameena 2006) The rural markets in India with the demand base and colossal size provide superior opportunities to the marketers. Two thirds of the consumers survive in the rural areas wherein almost one third of the overall income of the nation is produced. It is viewed as a profusion of chances, whether for the marketing textiles, durables and garments, financial services or personal care products. The advertisements and promotions have emerged as the key influencing component in the promotion factor. Therefore it is suggested that the greatest preference has to be provided to the promotional actions. (Mehta and Lalwani, 2000) The fake FMCGs could be categorized into two types, they are, second – pass – off products and the counterfeit products. The counterfeit product is a type of duplication in which even the unique producer would not be capable of discriminating among a fake and a genuine product. The customers are frequently uninformed that they purchase goods that look like what they desire. This creates worries to the companies since the fake products frequently ride to the victory of the original manufactured goods, eating into sales. Also it might in some cases, create harm to the health and safety of the consumers. This is only because they are of the lower price (Srivastava, 2006) Counterfeiting continues to increase globally because of the high margins achieved through counterfeiting by manufacturers and the demand for trade name goods at value prices by consumers (Amine and Magnusson, 2007). It is at the current rate of development, and growth, the rural market will soon outperform the urban market. He also said that the rural market will not be sleeping any longer. This clearly shows that the significance of the rural market at the current competition is to capture the consumer loyalty and the market share.
India consists mainly of villages and it is considered as the land of villages. It is even today; about 70 % of its overall population survives in villages. The private sector used to ignore this huge population because of the low literacy rate, low level of income and the greater cost due to the inappropriate infrastructure facilities. The unavailability of the appropriate distribution media and the channels and the low awareness makes the rural market to never view upon as the market of profit making. Though, as the development in the urban market began stagnating, the requirement for discovering the new market became apparent. Thus, the organizations began searching for forays into the rural market for development. Though, the consumers in the rural areas are divergent from that of the consumers in the urban market in terms of the attitudes, priorities, interests etc., they possess to be dealt in various ways (Dhumal, Tayade & Khandkar, 2008).
1. Sample size was 200 2. Questionnaire was sent through WhatsApp and using convenient sampling techniques.
For the study, both primary and secondary sources are explored. a) Primary Data: The primary source includes a well-developed questionnaire to collect the information from a sample of 200 people selected randomly. The questionnaires were distributed from the age of 20 and above through social media (WhatsApp) and mails. The people under study explained the purpose of our study to get their consent. b) Secondary Data: Apart from questionnaires, to serve the qualitative purposes, articles published in the newspapers about the FMCG companies stating how well they were at handling pandemic issues were used. Secondary sources also include research papers, case studies, articles and journals.
The questionnaire circulated included basic demographics, change in buying groceries pre-lockdown and during lockdown, on which segment did they spend the most, buying patterns, shop visits in a single trip, family’s overall consumption, did brands really mattered during the pandemic. The pattern used in the questionnaire was direct multiple choice questions. The language used was simple English so as to make it easy for all the respondents to give their consent.
MS EXCEL and Google Forms Spread sheet are the tools used to gather all the data; and therefore, to analyse it through graphs and give interpretations. In addition, the data processing and Analysis included statistical techniques. All the questions were framed keeping in mind the objectives behind this research.
1. Being the most and with the least falls between the age group of 40-45 years with 6%.
2. Though it is assumed that most of the grocery items are decided by the housewives, the decision on
the brand is taken by the male members of the family. Efforts were made to know gender wise
proportions of respondents. From the above table it is observed that the majority of respondents are
male with 65.5% (131), 34.5% (69) are female.
3. It is clear from the above table that people with no income are 31% (62) because they were students
and they don’t really earn. Respondents having income between 1,00,000 to 5,00,000 is 33.5% with
COVID-19 has impacted our lives from all the fronts. Businesses and global commerce will never be the
same once the world restarts post COVID-19. Based on the analysis of our framed questionnaire, our
findings have several implications. First, the consumer perception across India has changed rapidly. The
lockdown has resulted in panic buying and people hoarding essential items such rice, wheat, packaged
food, home care products, etc., it seen that people did not stock up much on confectionery or beverages
but instead rushed to stock up on essentials. People had a thought process of buying groceries only when
in need but the pandemic has fundamentally changed the buying pattern and also in thinking differently.
Second, COVID-19 has changed the way people think and has resulted in more consumers shopping online as personal hygiene and social distancing have emerged as top priorities. As a result, online shopping has become not only a necessity but more of a lifestyle change as we adjust to the new normal.
It is seen that the impacts of COVID-19 will take a considerable time to erode from the markets and consumer’s
minds. The FMCG companies need to take it as a challenge and turn it into opportunities for better business
the introduction of automation, digital innovation and supply-chain reinvention to rise as the leaders of a new
India post COVID-19. Panic buying is crunching the FMCG companies to restock the stores and mitigate consumer
demands. New hiring and product baskets can steer FMCG companies towards gains post lockdown. Many companies
experienced a shortage of skilled labour with migration.
New hiring’s can help pace-up the manufacturing speeds for companies offering food items like packaged snacks with an attractive valuation. On the consumer’s side, companies need to enhance their trust in their brand, keep their panic in check by offering critical information regarding products, stores, and stocks, and stimulate their purchase intentions by employing digital innovation. They should create a safer and more supportive customer experience by stating the safety measures and upgrading what they have done. Though the current FMCG sector has seen volume gains, the future has a lot of uncertainty.
FMCG companies will make a comeback after lock down ends if they strengthen their use of digital
technology around customers, employees and business operations. FMCG companies can use Social
Media for digital marketing, online services and e-commerce, as well as acquiring new customers and
opening new businesses as in the coming days we will have more people present on online sites.
Spend percentage of FMCG companies for online promotions and advertising on social media sites is going to increase during and after lockdown. FMCG companies must and will adopt new technology and processes to bounce back. Use of digital applications for remote work, online recruitment, online sales, eprocurement and workflow management can enhance the ability of FMCG companies to cope with the pandemic. FMCG companies, especially the ones with strong brands and distribution, are expected to bounce back as the goods reach across India.