Lockdowns, social distancing norms, personal hygiene, and immunity building took over people's lives globally and this has been reflecting in their buying decisions. The needs have evolved, individuals no longer  flash the most trending apparel or the new model of SUV, instead, they want to get hold of a dealer who can help them get the most efficient dishwasher and vacuum cleaner. Apart from this, the healthcare and disinfectant market  witnessed tremendous growth. Masks and alcohol-based hand sanitizers have witnessed demand like never before and will continue to do so for the next couple of years. Let’s understand what impacted the buying decisions during the pandemic.

The factors that shaped consumer behaviour during the year 2020-2021

Focus on health and hygiene-The consumer buying focussed on adhering to health and safety related purchases that involved , building immunity, and maintaining good health. Cosmetics, apparel and automobile have hardly been on the cards.

Focus on local suppliers- The pandemic brought to the forefront, the local suppliers, farmers, and shops on the forefront. When series of lockdowns impacted the e-com logistics, it was the local stores and farmers who quickly adapted to the door-to-door delivery mode to support the consumer. Even though online retail is gaining pace, the local suppliers will continue to retain and sustain for many years to come. 

Focus on conscious buying- Today, consumers have become extremely conscious in terms of spending. Not only the quality and the price, the durability of the product matter too. This has resulted from the economic distress that has plunged the world into depths of despair. Consumers are willing to sacrifice their brand preference for more sustainable options. 

Focus on homebody economy- The term “homebody economy” emerged during the pandemic where people have been faced to stay at home and work from home. Industries across the globe not only responded to this new situation by adapting their business model to it but also innovative designing campaigns, services, and products to cater to the needs and also 'create' a new need. For example- many brands across the apparel industry introduced a 'work-from-home comfortable clothing range to entice a major chunk of people working from home. 

Focus on digital payments- The year 2020 saw a surge in the fintech segment with many players vying to grab the space in e-commerce payment options space. Right from local farmers bringing in fresh produce to gated communities to e-commerce digitals, cash on delivery as a payment option is gradually becoming obsolete. As per a report published by Statista, the digital payments in India climbed up to a staggering evaluation of 35.6 billion Indian rupees as of December 2020. 

Focus on omnichannel buying approach- Today buyers prefer buying through various channels- it's not only the product website that has the greatest footfall. Today retailers are reaching the customer through social media sites, payment gateway shopping e-malls, and e-commerce sites too. There is no time to reinvent the wheel and hence, innovation comes into play. 

So, what does it imply for the Sales and Marketing function? 

The key learning points revolve around the classic theory of ‘stepping into the shoes of the customer’. Sales and marketing are functions that have the first brush with customer needs and feedback. This makes it almost imperative that they understand the market from the data perspective but also a humane point of view. There is a multitude of factors that influence consumer decisions. Right from psychological factors to economic conditions to marketing mix, every factor works with each other in unique permutation and combination. The best way to understand this by enrolling in the Executive Programme in Sales and Marketing by IIM Calcutta. Academic handholding is essential when it comes to understanding customer and market orientation. The professional academic courses are meticulously crafted to empower executives to identify and solve challenges in today's marketplace.