Covid-forced behavioural changes to stay for long: Report

Uncertainty has become the norm for brands and businesses across sectors


The radical behavioural changes that Covid-19 pandemic has forced on people as well as organisations following the lockdowns are here to stay for long-term, and will impact consumption patterns for a host of goods and services, according to a report.

The most visible changes are in the media and information space that has seen massive adoption of digital format, said the report by domestic arm of the French advertising powerhouse Publicis Groupe.

The findings of the report mark the "profound shifts in the wake of the Covid lockdowns and the resultant changes in the way consumer react and many of these behavioural changes are not transient but are likely to stay longer," the report noted.

Titled 'Reboot to a new normal', the study highlights the changes on the consumption patterns when it comes to media usage, purchase behaviour and overall marketing and brand trends following the outbreak and resultant lockdown enforced by the government between March 24 and April 15, which has since been extended up to May 3.

Moreover, the study examines the impact of the changing consumer on businesses, consumer sentiment and their behaviour towards brands and the response of the brands to these changes.

According to Anupriya Acharya, the head of Publicis Groupe India & South Asia, the impact of the pandemic has meant that uncertainty has become the norm for brands and businesses across sectors and geographies.

"Most certainly, only the ones who imbibe this change, and more importantly, lead it, will emerge stronger. We look forward to and promise sharing the quest for the new normal, evolving businesses and robust communities," she said.

"Online is clearly the new norm as companies embrace remote work and rapidly digitise operations to ensure business continuity," the study said, adding unfortunately many brands still struggle to operationalise work-from-home initiatives due to their cumbersome compliance requirements.

The study finds that consumers are single-mindedly focusing on essentials, sidestepping discretionary purchases like apparel, electronics and watches.

Underscoring the importance of the digital delivery channels, restaurants and food delivery apps have seen surge in demand and also contactless delivery options.

At the start of the outbreak, ecommerce saw huge momentum with people instinctively turning to online channels but lost momentum after the lockdown, which now is being boosted by online grocery deliveries as the crisis accelerated.

The lockdown boosted online retail with demand for fresh food, personal hygiene items and food delivery growing.

Another winner in this otherwise all-losing situation is the rising viewership of television channels, which has been on the decline over the past year.

TV ratings has seen an exponential jump because of Coronavirus related news. The trend is in line with other Asian markets such as China and Korea, the report noted.

Between March 1 and 21, gaming has seen a 41 per cent increase in time spent, while entertainment and OTT platforms have seen 34 per cent growth, making it third winner.

Similarly, while print publications are gasping for breath, their online version has become the de facto source of information with digital editions of mainline publications, seeing huge increase in traffic.

"Between March 16 and 22, there has been a full 61 per cent rise online traffic to newspaper websites and mobile apps over the previous month," according to the report.

Regional publications have also seen huge online demand with traffic jumping by 50 per cent, which is significantly higher than that of English publications.

"Publishers may need to shift focus on to digital operations as it remains uncertain whether consumers will continue subscriptions of physical copies," the report said.

Publicis Groupe is a global leader in communication and is present in over 100 markets offering advertising media, data and technology services.