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Coronavirus lockdown: Hygiene items top essentials list

High demand for e-commerce platforms

By Sambit Saha in Calcutta
  • Published 27.03.20, 12:41 AM
  • Updated 27.03.20, 12:41 AM
  • 2 mins read
People maintain social distance as they stand in a queue to buy vegetables and other essentials during a nationwide lockdown in Calcutta on Thursday. (PTI)

Consumers prioritised stocking up on personal hygiene and cleaning products over groceries and staples in the run-up to the nationwide lockdown announced on March 24, a survey conducted by data analytics firm Nielsen has found.

Expectedly, hand sanitisers and liquid hand wash — items prescribed by the health officials in the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak to keep the contagion at bay — topped the list of consumer requirement, leading to sales of these products to zoom. They were closely followed by antiseptic liquids and floor and toilet cleaners.

The Nielsen survey also threw up an odd behaviour pattern among the respondents of the survey — while at least four of the five people were aware of what needed to be done to avoid contracting the virus, only three of them were actually practising it in daily life.

The first flush of how the fear economy is playing out backs the anecdotal evidences that sales of cough syrup and protective gears such as masks and gloves jumped with every passing week of March and at least two of the five chemists who participated in the Nielsen survey divulged that prices have doubled or more, for some of these items.

The survey also pointed out how e-commerce platforms, which assure doorstep delivery to enable consumers avoid stepping out and jostle at the markets, experienced high demand.

Nielsen came out with this report specific to Covid-19 and its impact on consumers’ purchase behaviour, tracking the purchases made in the traditional, modern and e-commerce channels.

While it did not mention if the panic buying along with the initial breakdown of the logistics chain linked to the indiscriminate implementation of lockdown by various states can lead to stocks drying up, Nielsen analysts did not rule out some pain in the short term.

“In some places, constraints in the short term will happen, but the governments have been proactive to maintain the movement of essential services. Let’s not panic,” Prasun Basu, south Asia zone president, Nielsen Global Connect, said.

Going forward, Nielsen suggested that consumer behaviour would change and FMCG companies need to quickly adapt to the new trend.

When the lockdown is lifted and the population goes back to a normal routine, there would be an increased consciousness about health and that may get reflected in a change in the behaviour pattern. They also predicted the e-commerce platform to gain traction.

“Category shift will happen because of the pressure on the wallet (due to the economic fallout of the Covid pandemic). While some categories will see high growth, others may experience lower demand,” Sameer Shukla, west market lead (south Asia), Nielsen Global Connect, added.