COVID-19 Compels Food & Grocery Industry to Re-Imagine Innovation
Progressive Grocer|November 2020
IN THE WAKE OF THIS CHANGE IN CONSUMER BEHAVIOR AND LIFESTYLE, BUSINESSES OPERATING IN THE FMCG INDUSTRY ARE COMPELLED TO STREAMLINED THEIR BRAND PORTFOLIO, AND CONTINUALLY INNOVATE IN ALL ASPECTS OF THEIR OPERATIONS - RIGHT FROM PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, IN-STORE SERVICES TO MARKETING STRATEGIES TO APPEAL TO CONSUMERS WHO HAVE NOW BECOME MORE DISCERNING THAN EVER BEFORE…

It’s been exactly one year since the first Coronavirus case was reported in China, yet the pandemic continues to impact both industries and consumers across the world at an unprecedented scale. Just like other industries, the Fast Moving Consumer Goods segment has been no exception to this reality and has witnessed significant disruption over the past year. Over the last few months, the behaviour of consumers across the world has changed dramatically and they are still evolving, continually developing newer habits. The present-day consumer has developed a slew of new concerns ranging from health and well-being, availability of essentials like food and cleaning products, to how their life would be altered over the long-term. Experts believe that the impact of the pandemic is bound to alter all aspects of a consumer’s life. But while some areas would witness temporary effects where habits change for short duration and then go back to pre-COVID-19 ways, other areas would face long-term consequences.

These changes in consumer behaviour, be it short-term or long-term, do impact characteristics of products consumers buy, dynamics of product categories and operations of product companies. For example, the short term changes in consumer behaviour were apparent in the sudden shift in demand for product categories. After the pandemic hit, healthy food products that promise vitamins, minerals and other healthy immunity-boosting ingredients witnessed a sudden surge in demand. On the other hand, demand for more discretionary categories, such as non-essential personal care like beauty and make-up, large ticket consumer durables and appliances as well as on-premise consumption of alcohol and carbonated beverages has been impacted, according to a Ernst & Young report titled ‘COVID-19 and Emergence of a New Consumer Products Landscape in India’.

In the wake of this change in consumer behavior and lifestyle, businesses operating in the FMCG industry are compelled to streamlined their brand portfolio, and continually innovate in all aspects of their operations - right from product development, in-store services to marketing strategies to appeal to consumers who have now become more discerning than ever before.

In its report titled ‘Reimagining Consumer-Goods Innovation for the Next Normal’, McKinsey & Company highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has compelled CPG manufacturers to reimagine their innovation portfolios to lead in the next normal. Among other factors the report outlines consumer behaviors that are particularly germane to the innovation agenda.

Consumers around the world are trying out new products and the onus lies on brands and retailers to understand the specific requirements of their TG and serve them accordingly. According to the report, CPG companies and retailers that accommodate changing consumer behaviors as such will probably emerge from the crisis stronger, putting pressure on competitors to keep pace.

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