Brand or availability! Did the pandemic bring in a change in preference?

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With the onset of COVID -19, there has been an unforeseeable shift in the choice of the consumers and their flirtatious behavior of shifting brands during the pre-COVID times of surplus stocks and multiple brand choices.

With the noticeable shrinking product/service differentiation, it has all come tp the availability in the retail shelves, as far as the consumers are concerned. The same fact applies to the basic essential goods too. Due to the increased risk factors that come associated with people shopping in crowded and cramped areas, with the shoppers flocked to buy, lately, the consumers have been opting largely for planned and forethought shopping. Besides, there has been a drastic drop in the frequency of shopping trips to, compared to the pre- COVID period. There has been an interesting phenomenon that happened in the case of essential goods. A sudden fall was observed in the sale of top brands falling in the category, thereby slipping in the share markets too. Consumers have drastically got down to buying locally available brands. For instance,  In the packaged rice category in the modern trade channel, the top three brands lost market share, 72% in February to 64% in March 2020 and some 152 new players entered.

The main reason for such a downfall of the front runner brands is the sudden administration of lockdown, which left many big brands with stocks stuck in the pipeline. There is a power-shift from strategic brand management for brand loyalty to efficient distribution management for smooth availability. Albiet certain brands could not foresee the crisis, has worked out for a business continuity plan. The saying, When the going gets tough, the tough get going, proved befitting, than any other day. Another intriguing observation was to watch the local brands rising to the occasion and getting all agile, in their supply chains to handle distributions. Availability overbore trusted brand options, and there was no choice in some instances.

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