Hand Sanitizer category grew from 11% in Nov-Dec-Jan period to 53% in Feb: Nielsen report

The data on COVID-19 pandemic consumer patterns was presented by Prasun Basu, South Asia President, Nielsen Global Connect & Sameer Shukla, West Market Leader, Nielsen Global Connect, South Asia

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Updated: Mar 27, 2020 8:33 AM
Nielsen on COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a change in consumer purchasing behaviour, shows data released by Nielsen on the impact of the coronavirus threat on consumer patterns in India, especially in the FMCG category.

This data is an early read of consumer patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic with a particular focus on India’s FMCG and retail industries, shared Prasun Basu, South Asia Zone President, Nielsen Global Connect while presenting the data along with Sameer Shukla, West Market Leader, Nielsen Global Connect, South Asia. The data collected pertains to the period beginning from the end of last week.

“One of the highlights of this data is that we have taken 6 data streams into account. It has traditional retail audit data, modern trade data, e-commerce data in terms of measurement and analytics, direct consumer data and a list of social media conversations,” Basu explained.

Sharing more insights from the report Sameer Shukla said: “These are difficult times, but it is a new learning and we need to dial-up to adapt to the new situations as per demands. We have garnered data from different sources using a global framework and are getting learnings from them to market in India.”

With regards to the FMCG industry, Shukla said there are different behaviours and perception patterns. The data is reviewed from traditional-based channels which are the neighbourhood groceries, data points from the modern trade and e-commerce in terms of ordering and the difference therein. Using their online capacity, these channels reached out to a good number of consumers and also the retail community.

The FMCG category grew from 6% in November 2019 to 8% in February 2020. As for the food category, it grew from 8% in November 2019 to 10% in February 2020.

Among the growth in categories, the most prominent one has been for the Hand Sanitizer category - from 11% in November-December-January 2020 to 53% in February 2020. Going deeper in the state-wise count, the data showed that 11 out of 21 states witnessed a greater growth of 40% as compared to a year ago in this category. States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar and Tamil Nadu registered a value growth of 65-100% in February 2020.

In the same category, Floor Cleaners grew from 10% in the November to December period to 17% in February 2020 whereas Toilet Cleaners went up from 9% to 13% in the same timeframe.

Shukla went on to explain his deductions. “While February was more than a normal month in terms of the FMCG category, some of the hygiene categories started showing an uplift in this month.”

During the unveiling of the data, Prasun Basu also spoke about the ‘thresholds’ offering early signals of spending patterns of consumers and retail coping during an emergency.

He spoke about the threshold concept in terms of six stages. “Firstly, it is the Proactive Health Minded Buying, where people who got the first news of the virus started doing proactive buying which spiked an increase in the health products. Then comes Reactive Mindset where people prioritise products that are essential for virus containment and public safety, for instance face masks. The third threshold is preparing the pantry where people start stocking and buying shelf staple foods. A larger basket size purchase happens when the virus gets widespread and the percentage of people increases rapidly. Once quarantine preparations start retail visits fall and online visits start rising. Retailers start running out of stocks and the supply chain gets restrained. Finally, mass shopping goes completely online and stock availability goes down.”

Talking about India’s COVID-19 journey on social media, Basu said the social media buzz picked up in the first week of March when the total number of COVID-19 cases were 519 as per the timeline from 1st January 2020 to 24th March 2020. The total volume on social media was 22.3 million for COVID-19. There was a spike on social media when PM Narendra Modi announced that he wouldn’t be attending the Holi Milan programme. This led to increased social media activity on the 13th, 18th and 19th of March 2020.

In January 2020, there were 0.4 million mentions on social media whereas during the period of 19th to 24th March 2020 the number of mentions went up to 11.5 million.

The Prescribed Behaviour, Shukla said, was Awareness to Action. As for the Purchase Trends, in the traditional growth from mid-Feb to mid-March, the hand sanitizer category grew from 72% to 144% and Liquid Handwash from 28% to 42%. In terms of E-Commerce Order Growth in percentage, in the Feb ’20 (4 weeks) to March (2 weeks), Hand sanitizer was at 1425%, Facemask at 408%, Handwash 86% and Floor & Toilet Cleaner at 77%.

In terms of the categories, consumers will stock up in terms of a lockdown, the highest recorded was 91% for Personal Hygiene, followed by Cleaning products (74%), Grocery (67%), Fruits/Vegetables (64%), Personal Care (61%), Biscuits, Chocolates, Packaged Snacks (56%) and OTC Medicines (52%).

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