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Looking beyond the beaten path: Consumer durables resilient to the pandemic

With every challenge comes new opportunities. And as morbid as this global pandemic has made our lives, the unprecedented resilience shown by humankind has opened up an array of new opportunities, smart technologies, and a plethora of innovative products to make our lives safer and comfortable.

COVID-19 might have forced us to stay at homes, but this all has been for striving for the better. Otherwise, who would have thought that the use of a vacuum cleaner or a dishwasher will become more of a necessity and not just a mere luxury. As the theaters closed their doors citing the situation on the ground, we created our own mini-theaters at home with the best of the smart TVs. Many of us splurged in the most advanced kitchen appliances.

The consumer durables has been the fastest recovering sector amid the lockdown. The sector has shown readiness, made business continuity plans for the future, and has continued to operate normally despite the COVID-19 crisis. The panic created by this unprecedented malady did not deter the spirits of the brands, and we witnessed a battery of new more advanced products being launched in the market.

The strategy behind this quick recovery was that brands quickly adapted to their customers’ changing demands and outlook while restructuring their marketing processes. Pricing and an innovative approach to appeal to the demands of the customers during the downturn have prepared the brands to succeed when the recovery came in. The affordability factor during the pandemic revealed new realizations for the sector like strengthening reach in the non-metro cities.

Similarly, the increase in adoption of digital platforms and awareness of the emerging technologies led to a quick recovery in non-metros. To cater to the demands of this new group of customers, brands are also modifying their offerings to the current times and are making it compatible to the future marketing trends and consumption patterns.

Additionally, with a vast change in consumer behaviour, the pre- and post-purchase cycles have changed. Earlier the touch-and-feel was a dominant factor in deciding the purchase of any home appliance but with stores closed due to social distancing norms in place, the brands had to change their strategy.

Most of the effective companies transitioned from the touch-and-feel factor and printed catalogs system to a much more diversified digital space. Brands are now thinking of creative ideas like uploading unboxing videos of the new products on their websites. All these changes have made us realize that digital is not only about e-commerce rather it has a lot more to do with changing ways to communicate with the customers.

Citing these early progressions, we at Haier are vigorously expanding our distribution channel in the upcountry and especially the rural markets. We are also mapping the market data and looking at the sales numbers to understand the changing scenarios on the ground. This has helped us in streamlining the distribution networks and expanding our presence in the areas where demand is much higher.

At Haier, we have been experimenting with creative ways of communicating with our customers like: analysing the popularity of digital campaigns in the upcountry market. For example, by understanding the evolving content and news consumption patterns of people due to COVID-19, this year during Onam in Kerala, we leveraged a combination of print along with digital for communicating with the customers in the state. We also introduced exciting offers and innovative products across categories for our customers.

With such remarkable and effective changes, COVID-19 has certainly given us an opportunity to re-strategize and move from the conventional business models. It has also made us, at Haier, push our boundaries and transcend into new modes of communication with our customers while offering them products that Inspire Their Living.

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