01 June 2020

Published also in Business Mirror

Internet-enabled products and services worldwide are seeing massive spikes in demand particularly from consumers in countries under lockdowns due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The pandemic is also seen likely to transform global consumer attitudes and behavior, and the way companies across a range of industries do business.

A Hodgson, head of income and expenditure research at Euromonitor International, said food and nonalcoholic beverages will be the fastest-growing category in 2020, as consumers stock up in response to lockdowns.

But she said hotels and catering, leisure and recreation, and transport will be among categories with real negative growth, while transport is expected to be particularly hard hit, as consumers stay home and cancel all their summer travel plans.

Being cooped up at home for a long period of time, consumers will buy and do more things online—from learning and exercising, socializing and even partying.

“Older consumers, previously reticent to e-commerce but now homebound, will have to resort to online grocery shopping and would likely continue to embrace e-commerce in the future,” she added.

Hodgson identified home cleaning, hygiene, and healthy living will be “high on the agenda,” noting more consumers will prioritize self-care and self-prevention in the aftermath of the pandemic.

She said Covid-19 will be a catalyst for the permanent shift to a cashless world, adding retailers and consumers opt to go cashless and contactless due to concerns over infection.

“Brands and businesses successfully emerging out of this pandemic will most likely be those which are prepared for the ‘new normal’ of digital consumer engagement, e-commerce, and at-home consumption,” she added.

Media Eghbal, countries and consumers editor at Euromonitor International, said at home wellness trends are accelerating, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many to remain at home for protracted periods, and “cocooning” being further strengthened by quarantines and lockdowns.

“Many of today’s home well-being trends, from using digital appliances to researching wellness trends online and ordering goods via Internet retailers, are a result of digitization,” she said in a separate report.

Eghbal said more consumers are turning toward goods that can help with mental well lbeing amid rising anxiety levels during the pandemic.

This is creating demand for home-based over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aid devices, especially as many health-conscious consumers are avoiding sleep aids, she said.

“Nutrition has become a major influencing factor across household kitchens as consumer concerns over obesity and health rise throughout the pandemic. In particular, demand for immunity boosting foods and vitamins to ward off pandemic symptoms is on the rise,” she added.

Eghbal also underscored the growing market for a variety of health focused sites, apps, and wearable’s, as older consumers particularly at-risk to the impact of Covid-19 turn to remote health care to gain health and diet information from their homes.

“These markets are lucrative due to the rapid growth of household heads aged over 60 years, set to account for around one-third of all household heads by 2040,” she added.

Eghbal also sees the transfer into long-term adoption across numerous wellness markets of quarantine measures being implemented due to coronavirus. She identified some segments, such as digital fitness and remote health devices, will receive the necessary push to move them from an early-adoption phase to mass-market appeal. Eghbal said products deemed as luxury, such as high-end supplements, expensive superfoods and home decor, will suffer amid expected global recession in 2020 as household purchasing power decreases.