Pandemic has changed consumer habits for the better

by Rajan Gungiah. There is an upside to changed consumer behaviour post-pandemic. Brands need to adapt, but vigilance is key.

by Rajan Gungiah. It is a fact COVID-19 has had a negative impact on society. After the various waves, lockdowns, and restrictions, there is this collective longing for that bygone era. However, instead of focusing on what the virus has taken away, it is time we as individuals and a collective look at what the past two years have given us. This has been a lot, too. Fact is that while Covid will be with us for the near future, we need to make most of this present-day situation.

One of the most positive societal changes since the pandemic is that people spend more time at home, for both work and play. This so-called Age of Nesting, which allows people to spend quality time with loved ones while saving money, is driven by the pandemic, and kept in place by increased demand for convenience. Why would you conquer the elements if you could have the same meal delivered to your home or, better yet, cook it yourself? Why would you voluntarily immerse yourself in a traffic jam to get your daily groceries?

Home sweet home

The Age of Nesting has gone hand in hand with a growing demand for better hygiene and more durable goods at competitive prices, posing a massive opportunity for large and small companies alike. People have seen their incomes shrink and are less willing to go out, but that doesn’t mean they won’t spend money. The global online food delivery market, which was worth US$107 billion in 2019 is now expected to grow by 11.5% to reach US$154.3 billion by 2023, partly attributed to the pandemic.

Besides ordering meals via an app, many people are cooking more at home. Market research by Arçelik, the parent company to Defy, Grundig and Beko in South Africa, shows that among South African consumers, 83% of respondents said their cooking behaviour has changed for the better. Another 76% indicated they are eating more homemade meals than before the pandemic, and 70% spend more time in the kitchen.

Consumers have also shifted their bank cards’ focus from holidays, hotels, and gym memberships to durable purchases, including home goods and appliances. Data by Deloitte shows this category has seen an 18% jump compared to pre-pandemic times. More cooking at home, after all, requires the right utensils and appliances – from fridges that keep produce fresh for longer, to range cookers that allow you to prepare multiple dishes at once.

Then there is cleaning. Because people spend more time at home due to the pandemic, they also spend more time and money on cleaning and hygiene. The above-mentioned market research by Arçelik shows that 77% of South African respondents clean their living space more frequently; while 80% regard cleaning as an essential skill, just 1% higher than cooking.

Prepare for disruption

While the pandemic will continue to ease up – thanks to vaccines and people taking responsibility for protecting themselves and others, it doesn’t mean companies should move back into the past. It is a matter of time before a new disruptive element presents itself, whether it is a new variant, a new COVID-19 wave, or an entirely new challenge such as an economic crisis.

If there is one thing the past two years should have taught brands and organisations, it is that they must be and remain prepared for whatever comes their way. Their task is, after all, to ensure they can continue making humankind feel happy, safe, supported, and inspired, to make the best of a challenging situation. Companies that fail to do so will risk becoming casualties of present and future paradigm shifts in terms of how their customers juggle life, work, play, and money.


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Rajan Gungiah is Beko Regional Marketing Director for sub-Saharan Africa. He is responsible for brand and business development across 35 countries, expanding brands like Defy, Beko and Grundig to Sub-Saharan Africa.



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