COVID-19 transformed India’s Digital Journey
In this article I will be putting across how lockdown propelled digital adoption in India, how the behavior of Indian Digital User evolved and what factors were responsible for these behavioral changes, since lockdown. Due to lockdown restrictions, internet has become main platform to work, entertain, socialize and consume news. We will talk about how deeply human sentiments were impacted which led to change in their behavior and ultimately resulted in accelerated digital adoption in India. This article is useful for professionals, marketers, digital media managers, brand managers and entrepreneurs.
1. Human Sentiment & Emotions
Not only in India, but across the globe, COVID-19 has impacted humans at fundamental level. The first and foremost everyone got worried about themselves and their family member’s health as soon as the lockdown was imposed. It triggered the importance of protecting themselves and their family members from this virus. Indians felt great amount of the worry towards their family’s health due to COVID-19.
While they were struggling with the health and safety inside their homes, lockdown came with the impact on income. Due to movement restrictions in lockdown, businesses and professionals saw negative impact on their incomes. Indians found difficulty in meeting their financial ends.
Due to this negative impact on income, the sense of careful spending was noticed which lead to buying of only essential goods. Spends were limited to essentials and medicals initially. Key conversations were about the economy revival and their individual finances, which made Indians more careful with their spending.
In a nutshell, Indians felt disrupted and highly concerned about their health, finances and are more mindful while spending.
2. Human Behavior — The Real Struggle Begins
Once lockdown was imposed, Indians struggled with its immediate aftermath. The new norm was here; to maintain social distance. The human life was in complete disruption. Many were left in middle of this battle of income & health and to top it all restricted movement brought melt-down for a lot. We were forced to not leave home unless absolutely critical. Many were left in state of confusion when it comes to the symptoms of COVID-19.
At this stage of lockdown fear, confusion and mis-information led to Panic Buying. Panic buying phenomena is not new, we have done this in the past to cope up with the uncertainty with epidemics and virus outbreaks. When the rational brain gets stormed by emotions – humans panic.
“When humans feel their survival is under threat, they do something to feel like they are in control.”(Its survival philosophy)
Only essential goods were available as India entered in total lockdown. This uncertainty of future and limitations on activities lead to more stress among everyone. Due to this state of confusion & mis-information, in general, Indians started doubting the measures taken by government to prevent and treat COVID-19. Many family members got stuck in various parts of the country and separated from their families due to lockdown and its restricted movements policies.
Among many issues, Indians were facing unprecedented challenges from scarcity of sanitizers to unknown availability of essential food items to work from home to health concerns of kids & elders in family. During this restricted living, we saw rise in digital consumption due to isolation.
Increase in digital conversations and interactions led to rise in fake news and misinformation across various social media platforms. TV & Radio News came to rescue in these trying times as newspaper circulation was disrupted during total lockdown.
3. New Trends
COVID-19 has triggered change in customer behavior bringing in some new trends. Consumers glued to their mobiles, even more, as they seek entertainment, information, news and find unique ways to engage themselves in times of social distancing and lockdown.
First Time Digital Customer – We saw digital customer emerging more profoundly. Not just entertainment & information, even from sales & purchase stand points, digital adoption has increased. Many of Indian experienced their first digital transaction during this lockdown. A new phenomenon of ‘PHYGITAL’ shopping started shaping up, where more and more consumers started buying from e-commerce websites and getting them delivered at their door step. Since I started online shopping, it seems much more convenient. Also I have managed to escape compulsive buying at a retail mall versus I only buy what I need on online shopping platform.
Health Conscious — Topping the charts of concerns that Indians faced was health and safety of their family members. We had a lot to take care under health space, keeping fit & increasing immunity, essential food items and medicines for elders in family. We started implementing corrective measures to lead a healthy lifestyle. Due to movement restrictions, digital home fitness evolved. We started taking exercise subscriptions online. We started consuming healthy and nutritious food, thanks to forward articles on WhatsApp and Social Media Posts. Many of us took cooking responsibilities and started cooking healthy recipes. Of course, Google & YouTube search came quite handy to search food recipes. Our food habits evolved, we adopted more of organic ingredients than ever before. We started consulting with doctors online and ordering medicines online.
Online Communities — Post lockdown, many professionals were forced to work from home thus started using video conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft teams etc. to communicate and collaborate with their peers and management for organized flow of work. On personal front at homes, many started using these video conferencing tools to rekindle with their distant friends and relatives. They started celebrating their birthdays and special occasions over these conferencing calls and suddenly geographies were obsolete. Even I started more of digital person-to-person interactions for work or catch-up with my relatives abroad. With increase in digital interactions, we saw rise in digital influencers as well. They influenced people with their choices of entertainment options to clothing styling while working from home to healthy recipes to productivity boosting content to online interactions.
Digital Content Consumption — Various domains saw growth in consumption on digital medium. From entertainment to education to games to news to events, the content consumption for these domains has only went up, since lockdown. OTT & News consumption has surged multi-fold due to isolation and misinformation. Many parents have enrolled their kids into online classes as their regular schools are disrupted. Not just education & entertainment, but mobile & online gaming has seen massive growth during these times. All these behavior changes are taking place as Indians are spending more time inside their homes.
On this note we come to a closure of our article and we can all agree – Digital Bharat is here!
This digital adoption will have an overarching impact on businesses as consumers are changing choices on lifestyles and consumption.
I am sure after reading the above article, you would be able to relate to phased evolution of our behavior from how we went into a lockdown, to our key concerns during the lockdown and ultimately how we managed our lockdown phase of life.
Please do leave a comment and share your behavior change that you have personally experienced during this lockdown.