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Festive Season Cheer for Consumer Durables: Saurabh Baishakhia, President – Appliances, Usha International

In new normal companies also need to adapt to a digital-first approach while continuing to focus on traditional sales where visual connect is becoming increasingly important writes Saurabh Baishakhia.

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A land of festivities, come September and India witnesses a perceptible shift in the mood of consumers that lasts till the turn of the year. The moodscape is upbeat and a sense of joy and bonhomie pervades even in the smallest nooks and corners of the country. It is also the season of cheer for companies who go all out to woo the consumers to leverage the festive season led sales.

While the festive season this year could be subdued in the aftermath of the pandemic related crisis as the economy recuperates, manufacturers and retailers are optimistic that sales will be on track, despite the unprecedented times. Going by the way we have seen the consumer durables market revive post the relaxation of the lockdown, this festive season is expected to bring cheer for the durables sector. With not just pent-up demand but also demand for products offering a value proposition in kitchens that are now being manned and managed by people themselves rather than their help, it’s a huge positive sign.

Further, a good monsoon has pushed up the rural economy and therefore will play a key role in reviving demand. The 850 million consumers inhabiting the 6.5 lakh odd villages in India make for about 70% of the population and contribute about 50% of the country’s GDP, and is currently driving demand in various regions of the country.

When Unlock happened, sales picked up rapidly due to pent up demand. More and more people have started stepping out of their homes as India goes through further phases of unlock, leading to a positive spending sentiment. Sales growth continues as consumers are doing more in their homes and kitchens. They are investing in various functional and efficient products, like home and kitchen appliances that help them do more with less, as they juggle both office work and household chores simultaneously. A keen interest in products that help people multitask and save time has been noted. In fact, we seem well on our way to recovery as the sentiment is upbeat and optimistic about the economy recovering.

The consumer durables industry is expecting a further uptick in demand in the upcoming months and are going all out to be able to leverage this. With the writing on the wall fairly clear, the consumer durable sector is scaling up to build inventory and ramp up production – which had gone into the wait-and-watch mode during the lockdown and the months following that – in order to meet the surge in demand.

With the pandemic inducing a certain sense of caution in consumers, one of the big surprise trends is that businesses are going hyperlocal. People are buying products – all kinds of products including appliances and gadgets – from stores closest to their homes. So brands that are available locally are winning loyalty as are those which offer digital assistance for placing orders and are making products available at home. One big customer shift has been the preference for branded products as they giving precedence to the value proposition being offered including functionality, aesthetics, assurance of quality, and after sales service. Therefore, being a trusted brand built on great products, after sales service, and consumer loyalty works to an advantage.

Another trend that’s picked up pace due to the pandemic driven restrictions is that consumers from all walks of life are spending more and more time online and are therefore more likely to be influenced digitally on their purchase decisions. Whether its first time online or then seasoned ones, there has been an marked increase and preference for ecommerce sales and digital customer experiences led by the urban consumers and this is what brands need to tap into. Leveraging online brand presence and marketplaces as consumers’ e-commerce spends rise is becoming imperative.

In this new normal companies also need to adapt to a digital-first approach while continuing to focus on traditional sales where visual connect is becoming increasingly important. Brands need to evolve their marketing strategies to suit the changing consumer purchase patterns. Online to offline, and offline to online (O2O), a key trend being noted in the industry is that businesses are now adopting hyper-localization strategies to target diverse customer needs.

While in the past few years, the consumers’ buying behavior is becoming season agnostic – consumers buy what they need, when they need it – the festive spurts continue to remain relevant and add a sizeable chunk to sales revenues.

This Diwali is expected to witness digital adoption grow manifold in terms of purchases vis-à-vis the last couple of years. To ensure this festive season lives up to their expectations, companies need to move towards diversification in their product portfolios, strengthen and sustain brand trust, develop affordability, and offer value propositions that align with consumer sentiment and create a holistic consumer experience.


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