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From dip in formal wear to surge in home decor, how Covid-19 has altered shopping trends

Written by Surbhi Gupta
| New Delhi |

Published: July 23, 2020 8:00:35 pm

In apparel and clothing, meanwhile, there is low demand for formal pants, shirts and dresses, and accessories such as ties, socks and belts. (Photo: Getty Images/Thinkstock)
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed not just how we shop, but also what we shop for. There is an evident shift in consumer demand in multiple categories. While products such as hair colour, hand cleaning solutions, eye make-up, keyboard-up formal top wear, Korean instant noodles, loungewear and sleepwear, trimmers and headphones have seen a surge, there is a dip in the sale of formal wear, lipsticks and sunscreens. Perhaps to make the background better for zoom calls, there is also an increased interest in the home decor segment.

Several cosmetic brands are seeing more demand for skin and hair care products since the lockdown began. “Upon communicating the reopening of our delivery channels, we had an increased demand for our Organic Hair Colour Kit,” said a Kama Ayurveda spokesperson. “The closure of salons and spas has pushed the consumers to take better care of their skin at home,” said Vishal Bhandari, SoulTree’s CEO and Founder. “Functional categories such as acne, anti-ageing, hair loss and dandruff have been growing,” said Pooja Saghal, Vice President and Head, Marketing, Kaya. The Body Shop has seen a rise in demand for its anti-bacterial skin care range of Tea Tree products, said Antara Kundu, Marketing Head, Asia South.

In spite of summer months, there has been a noticeable dip in the sale of sunscreen lotions, as people are not stepping out as much, said Khadi Natural’s MD Gaurav Singh.

“A quick scroll through social media indicates that a lot of people, including men, are turning to skincare. Mood-boosting and wellness-oriented products, which were earlier considered niche, have become more mainstream as consumers seek ways to ‘de-stress’,” said Neha Rawla, Head, Brand Communications, Forest Essentials. People have also started looking towards rescue categories such as hand cleansing solutions, including hand soaps, sanitisers and moisturising cream, added Rawla.

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After noticing an “extremely high demand”, Nykaa launched hand sanitizers, hand wash, masks, PPE suits, along with a range of disinfectant sprays for cleaning vegetables and fruits, and home and travel needs. Khadi Natural has also introduced hygiene care products, which have reportedly become their bestsellers.

Make-up categories such as lipsticks and foundations are noticing a dip, said Reena Chhabra, CEO, Nykaa Brands. However, eyes and nails are seeing a steady growth. “We are also foreseeing an increase in the demand for eye make-up as masks will stay with us for a longer time,” said Umashan Naidoo, Westside’s Head Cosmetics & Head of Customer. “The Body Shop is seeing more consumers opting for minimal matte finish products like our Matte Clay face range as well as multifunctional lip products like our lip juicers,” said Kundu. Forest Essentials has noticed a dip in the sales of perfumes.

Naidoo has also observed an increase in the sale of home products. “Customers want to make sure that the background during zoom calls are perfect. People are setting up home offices or even chill corners with beautiful pieces of decor, plants and cushions,” he said. Furniture and decor brand Script by Godrej & Boyce has been getting lots of enquiries for study tables and chairs, said Rajat Mathur, Business Head. The company is in the process of designing small and compact work-from-home ecosystems. Godrej Interio is in the process of designing couches and beds with platforms that would enable people to place their laptops and a host of other WFH accessories… Most Indian homes are small and there is not enough space to accommodate separate office settings,” said Subodh Mehta, Senior Vice President, B2C.

Korikart, an India-based online store for Korean food and lifestyle products, has witnessed an increase in sales by around 300 to 400 per cent, mainly due to a surge in demand for Jin Ramen instant noodles, said Seo Young-doo, CEO and founder. In the past few months, they have added new categories such as gourmet food, tea and coffee. “People are looking at Korean products beyond the lens of technology and sheet masks. Korean food is immensely liked by people these days and they are also trying products in our Home & Kitchen category,” he said.

ALSO READ | Here’s what you should look out for when buying a hand sanitiser

In apparel and clothing, meanwhile, there is low demand for formal pants, shirts and dresses, and accessories such as ties, socks and belts. “Anything too tailored is not being favoured by the customer,” said Naidoo. “With an embargo on gatherings and events, occasion and party wear categories have seen the lowest ebb… Consumers prefer comfort over being trend-driven,” said Tanvi Malik and Shivani Poddar, co-founders of FabAlley, a women’s fashion brand. Hence, they have curated a WFH collection, featuring preppy shirts, versatile blouses and keyboard-up formal top wear.

There is a surge in demand in the loungewear, casualwear and sleepwear categories. “Within womenswear, the most popular items are T-shirts, casual blouses and tops along with our casual linen bottoms,” said a Marks & Spencer spokesperson. “Non-wired bras have seen an uplift, and our Flexifit fabric Crop Top bra is one of the top sellers. Cotton rich knickers and sleepwear have also been popular,” they said. FabAlley is noticing an increase in sale of cotton-based separates, T-shirts and bottoms. “We are witnessing a huge pull towards knits- across categories,” said Sundeep Chugh, MD & CEO, Benetton India.

Since people are focussing on their health, activewear is another favourite these days. Lingerie brand Zivame is seeing an increase in the category. “Besides masks, sweatpants and joggers in breathable fabrics have seen a demand up-swing. Coordinated pyjama sets have also seen a spike in demand,” said Malik and Poddar. Headphones, trimmers and flip flops have also gained traction.

“Fashion masks have emerged as a new category in the last 40 days and the results are quite satisfactory. We are soon coming up with a new collection of co-ordinated t-shirts and masks in August,” said Akhil Jain, Executive Director, Madame. Myntra had also launched its range of personal protective masks at the onset of the lockdown which are one of its top searched products on the platform, it said.

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