Covid has in more ways than one forced India, like much of the world, to hit the 'reset' button. This reset spans across people's normal day to day life, habits, behaviors, interactions, relationships, education, work, businesses, politics and far beyond.
However, the repercussions of this reset when compared, promises to have far more reaching impacts in India than anywhere else in the world. The reasons can be attributed to the sheer size of its population, demographics and existing ecosystems.
This forced change, whether liked or otherwise, is at the threshold. Adaptability has been auto triggered and alterations have begun to take place almost seamlessly. This includes, but is not limited to, ways of interactions, working habits, content consumption patterns, transaction methods and so on. The change has pitched traditional methods against modern offerings and for once the playing field is level. More than ever before are people open to adopting what they may have resisted till before the pandemic. A case in point would be with regard to payment methods. The last few months been a rise in adoption of digital methods at a pace like never before. UPI (Unified Payment Interface) transactions alone hit a whooping 2.73 billion transactions just in the month March, 2021. Online buying and consumption of online content parameters indicate a similar shift.
Affordable data and cheap phones have only furthered this boom. Business, even local, are adopting creative methods to hold on to existing or to attract new customers. The playing field, as mentioned before, has been reset and opened to an even and fair level.
Studies have shown that 11% of all rural families in India, bought a new phone since the lockdown began. Being confined to homes has pushed people to shift their activities to online forums and platforms. This applies to literally every aspect of their day to day lives, be it attending classes, working, shopping, banking, transacting, socializing or even with regard to entertainment. While all these have existed online, the scale of adoption and engagement is like never before.
Like with anything new, the buzz and excitement, especially amongst the new adapters is acquiring a high pitch. First time users are discovering, experimenting and experiencing services and platforms that were alien so far. While easy of use and attention of local needs and behaviors is influencing adoption, engagement over time is solidifying loyalties. The forced change has pushed them towards services and platforms, in a way that few marketing campaigns have.
The questions that then beg themselves are:
Are businesses ready to capitalize on this opportunity?
Do they understand their potential consumer well enough?
Do they understand their needs, behaviors, sensitivities, concerns and expectations?
Are they equipped to grab on to and benefit from the first mover advantage?
The market share on offer, while being vast, is still limited. Infrastructure, capital and stature of a company may sure be an advantage, but understanding the consumer is as important, if not more.
Research - UX, marketing, product testing, behavioral etc, using effective tools and expertise that adds local context, helps identify the all-important need gaps, opportunities for customization, steps to make the service or platform user friendly etc, all of which will help a business establish its footprint a step ahead of the competition.
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