What you need, not what you desire

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What you need, not what you desire

Thursday, 25 June 2020 | Sakshi Sharma

What you need, not what you desire

Now that people have started visiting shopping malls, standalone outlets and other public domains, along with aggressive online buys, brands are witnessing a change in consumption patterns. Planned and fixed purchases are reshaping the demand curve. By Sakshi Sharma

It has been rightly said that people don’t change but their priorities do. Not too long ago, you had a wishlist of all the “spring outfits you need to get right now” or the summer sales and deals that had to be taken advantage of. But now that the pandemic has resulted in a slowdown, job losses, furloughs and an increasingly home-bound existence with offices migrating to online operations, people are choosing to buy only that which is necessary and functional. Impulsive shopping and succumbing to visual temptation are just not happening anymore. For example, loungewear or slothwear and work stations top people’s scale of preferences at the moment. 

HOMEWEAR THE NEW SEGMENT

As an Amazon India spokesperson shares, “We are seeing demand for work from home clothing, innerwear and kidswear in addition to maternity wear and loungewear for women. And this is across brands. As our Wardrobe Refresh Sale (WRS) is under way, there’s a demand for apparel products, including T-shirts, home wear, kurtis, flip flops, casual shoes and sandals. Consumer electronics, personal grooming, grocery and other essential products are also seeing heavy bookings.”

Rishi Sharma, Assistant Vice President and Digital Head of Liva, says the pandemic has mostly impacted what we wear going forward. According to the brand’s in-house survey, he told us how 43 per cent of the consumers surveyed had delayed purchasing clothes during the outbreak as non-essential expenditure. One in three people (35 per cent) said they would buy clothes at discounted rates, while around one in two consumers would defer their apparel buys. Instead of defined shopping seasons, brands may have to look at planning a new collection every two months to keep the buyer invested. The survey found that only one in four was likely to buy from the current Spring Summer collection. Three out of four consumers had already bought what they needed or would not buy clothes for a while, choosing to use what was already there in their wardrobe. The only other USP that brands can now dangle is how sustainable and environment-friendly their lines are. The post-pandemic consumer is very conscience-oriented.

SHOES & ELECTRONICS HOT PICKS

Walking shoes, joggers and trainers have driven shoe sales at malls. According to Bharat Shishodia, Central director, Vegas Mall, Delhi, brands like Puma and A6 have done good business. Electronics are seeing good pick-up mainly because of work from home protocols and online classes. Lifestyle brands make up for 25 per cent of the overall sales. “Only two to three people from a family are visiting the mall with a determined mindset and a list of fixed items to buy. Home and sports categories are doing well,” says he.

Select Citywalk, Saket has seen a major footfall from youngsters. Electronic sales have been on the rise. “There is a need to tap all inventories online as well as offline. There are a lot of customers at the mega counter too. Many Apple phones and MacBooks are also being sold,” mentioned one of its spokespersons.

DLF Shopping Malls reported high conversions over the last week. Its executive director, Pushpa Bector, says that shopping priorities have changed and preference is given to essentials. “We also see interest in segments like electronics and beauty. ‘Made in India’ brands are preferred more comparitively,” adds she.

As per the data shared by Pacific Malls during a Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) webinar, it witnessed great conversions over the last week. One of its spokespersons mentioned that the Apple store has been doing extraordinary well with 80 to 90 per cent of sales, similar to that of Select Citywalk.

 Mohit Pruthi from Bharti Realty, Delhi, sees footfalls in the range of 15 to 20 per cent with 50 to 60 per cent conversions. Says he, “Healthcare products, groceries and beauty items are doing really well while F&B is yet to pick up the pace. Parents can be seen at the mall in big numbers, specifically for enabling gadgets for laptops or media.” But he is hopeful. Yes, the footfall is shorter than pre-COVID days but even if this trend holds, we can expect normalcy by Diwali.

“About 70 per cent of the malls are operational. Electronics, AC, refrigerators are doing great business as they do every summer. Pandemic or not, you still need them. Customers are more interested in casual wear but have downgraded their brand loyalties, with Trends and MAX FBB doing well,” shares Justin Masih from Gaur Group, Noida.

REDRAW THE GRAPH

A statistical graph of Liva’s in-house survey demonstrates how India’s preference meter is changing drastically. “Women’s wear sales have seen a growth of 25 per cent, menswear 22 per cent, kids wear seven per cent while home decor is at 15 per cent. And to cater to the wedding market, jewellery brands have conceived of a studio experience, where one customer is invited for a design showcase. Slots are reserved in order to provide a safe shopping experience. We need retail innovations for the next six months to track the change,” says Rishi.

NEW FASHION LINES

Does this mean that “need-based purchases” will replace “want-based purchases” forever? Sanjay Vakharia, CEO, Spykar Lifestyle, explains that new arenas are opening up for the industry. “Work from home wear and lounge wear will be big segments moving forward along with basic clothing. Consumers are still demanding basics. So comfortable jean variants, casual top wear and boxers are the lines we’re expanding. We’re also coming up with trendy face masks. Consumers are looking for quality and durability instead of fashion and trends. Brands will be creating utilitarian lines for the next season,” says he.

While social outings may be fewer, people have been wondering what they should do with their ceremonial outfits. And will there be a market for it in the near future? Sanjay has a tendency to see a silver lining in these situations. He feels that we will still dress up and put on a good front whether it’s at home while spending time with the family and clicking pictures or on a video call with friends. Fashion plays a big part in helping people express themselves, so this curve is sure to move upwards.

While apparel sales, primarily in  H&M have been on the rise at Select Citywalk, Saket, DLF Shopping Malls too witnessed good sales of clothes and luxury brands.

Zara’s lifestyle collection is said to be doing great and apparel for men has seen 40 to 45 per cent sale in Pacific Malls.

FOOD AND DRINKS

As the F&B industry is yet to gain its pace unlike other essentials, Shyam Thakur, founder and CEO, Momo King, feels that there’s a drastic change as people are making tidal efforts to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Says he, “Customers want variations in flavours and a new and authentic range, including vegan, whole-wheat and gluten-free. They have become more conscious about fresh and healthy ingredients and prefer home deliveries only. And that will continue for some time. Everyday could be the new exotic.”

Burger King and Dominos outlets in South Delhi area have also shown good sales, indicating that traditonal quick foods still figure in our choices.

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