Facebook India, in association with Boston Consulting Group, has released a new report titled ‘Turn the Tide’ that focuses on how Covid-19 has dramatically changed consumer behaviour and altered the path-to-purchase. The report shares actionable guidance for brands to build for the new consumer journeys in times of Covid-19 and beyond.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have caused significant disruption for people, communities and businesses. In order to guide brands to adapt to this rapid transition, and enable them to ensure business continuity in this crucial time, Facebook India and Boston Consulting Group came together to understand consumer behaviour shifts and outline the opportunity for businesses around the altered path-to-purchase.
The report delves into key consumer-shifts based on three societal-truths that emerged as a result of the pandemic — social distancing, increasing focus on health and hygiene, and increasing income uncertainty. Within each of these shifts, the report says three kinds of behaviour change movements are being observed — a reversal of past trends, acceleration of existing trends, and formation of new habits.
The reports especially calls out the massive acceleration in digital led by social media, the emergence of micro-market opportunities, an increase in value consciousness leading to more utility-led shopping, consumers embracing digital even in historically offline categories such as education, health, and fitness, the increase in spend on e-commerce in the coming months even for traditionally offline categories, a definite increase in spends on health, hygiene and wellness, and a rise in do-it-yourself (DIY) trends.
The Facebook-Boston Consulting Group recommendations to help brands surge in the new normal:
Based on the report, here are some steps brands can take right now to win in the new normal
 Build social connect in social distancing: Engage with consumers in their context
People, creators, and celebrities are on social media platforms in an unprecedented way, and brands have an opportunity to leverage this massive engagement to build stronger dialogues and deeper connect with users.
 Focus on hyper-localisation: Connect with consumers where they are
Micro-targeting can help brands get the first-mover advantage with the country being divided into different zones with distinct restrictions.
 Bring alive experiences with digital access: Virtual launches and product demos
As people turn to virtual experiences for every facet of their life, it becomes important for brands to build for this new customer journey. We are already seeing more brands explore Facebook and Instagram ‘Live’ to connect with their followers and customers. Brands are also thinking about using social media platforms for new product launches.
 Optimise portfolio for value creation: Segmenting consumers to drive differential value
With the consumer becoming more value-conscious, it becomes important for brands to segment in order to optimise and offer what is relevant for the segment.
 Relook at media mix models to drive growth: Align with the new media landscape
As brands, and especially those with traditional product categories, start spending more online, they would feel the urgent need to understand truly incremental outcomes by the platform as well as cross-platform efficiency. This would increase the need for industry-leading digital measurement standards such as custom mix modelling (CMM) by Nielsen that Facebook had piloted last year.
 Build your online presence: Own platforms and influencing marketplaces
The study revealed that Indian consumers may spend higher on e-commerce, even for traditionally offline categories. The surge in preference for the online channel is sharper in India than in China, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines. This is the right time to build your online presence.
 Strengthen CRM solutions: Messaging for post-sales communication and other digital CRM tools
It’s essential to seamlessly solve for customer needs to eliminate friction in the path-to-purchase. Conversational digital solutions such as messenger/chatbots and other digital CRM tools can prove to be beneficial right now.
Sandeep Bhushan, Director and Head, Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook India, said, “As business after business joins the dots to understand consumer shifts in both mindsets and behaviours as a result of Covid-19, we have invested in studying the new paths to purchase in continuing our commitment to enabling growth for businesses both large and small. The ‘Turn the Tide’ report outlines the opportunities that businesses need to embrace in the context of new consumer journeys and category needs. In response to consumers embracing the digital medium, brands need to focus on solutions that are relevant for the new normal such as hyper-localisation, creating virtual experiences, re-looking at the media-mix to build efficiency, or building messaging around new habits such as DIY and the increased focus on health and hygiene.”
Nimisha Jain, Managing Director and Partner, Boston Consulting Group, said, “We are experiencing unprecedented shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviours, 80%+ consumers will continue to practice social distancing and are bringing the outside inside, over 40% of consumers are dialling up on health and wellness spends, e-commerce adoption has already advanced by 2-3 years. These aren’t just temporary surges, and many will last longer and become more defining traits. Our analysis reveals that only one in six companies emerged stronger in past crises — players who show the agility to reinvent their value propositions, go-to-market plans and business models to address these demand shifts will be the ones that set themselves apart from the pack”
The findings in this report are based on primary and secondary research conducted by BCG India.
The report leverages BCG’s extensive primary and secondary research on consumer behaviour trends. BCG conducted a Consumer Sentiment survey covering top 100 cities in India, with an online panel of consumers across different demographic profiles (Gender: Male, Female; Age Group: 18-65 Yrs; Income Segment: 5-10 Lakh, 10-20 Lakh, 20 lakh+; Geography: Metro, Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities; Socio-economic classification: SEC A, SEC B). The research was conducted in 3 waves:
Wave 1 - March 23-26, 2020 (N = 2,106)
Wave 2 - April 17-20, 2020 (N = 2,324)
Wave 3 - April 30-May 03 2020 (N = 1,327)