We have already started thinking about how and how much consumerism and the role that it plays in the future, will change in the post Coronavirus scenario.
COVID-19 is spreading like wild fire throughout the world creating a path of death and destruction. Unfortunately, India has also fallen prey to this. The world is in danger of falling into a Great Depression, with millions of unemployed workers across the globe. With industries staring at a blank immediate future, the impact will especially hit the poor – both in terms of health and economics; many cannot even afford to wash their hands because of lack of water.
In India, especially, the small and medium scale Industries along with agriculture which form the backbone of our economy are on the brink of collapse as predicted by some experts. Millions of small wage earners are grappling to survive this ordeal and already the farm losses have started mounting. Social or physical distancing is a distant dream for slum dwellers and small factory workers.
People are stocking up on all kinds of food and other necessities, including medicines, should COVID-19 linger on for weeks or months. So the actions and reactions of COVID -19 are already visible. Consumer actions and reactions are a cause of the unprecedented crisis for a developing nation. Future seems to be very uncertain!
One can therefore predict that this period of deprivation and anxiety will usher new consumer attitudes and behaviors that will change the nature of future businesses. Finally consumers will think twice what they consume, how much they consume, and how all this is influenced by class issues and inequality. A new equitable buying and usage patterns will surely emerge bypassing class, creed, caste and income levels.
Business firms have an intrinsic interest in endlessly expanding consumption for the purpose of higher profits. They rely on three disciplines to boost consumption and brand preference. The first is innovation to produce attractive new products and brands to enchant customer interest and purchase. The second is marketing that supplies the tools to reach out to consumers and motivate and facilitate their purchasing. The third discipline is credit to enable people to buy more than they could normally buy on their low incomes. Businesses aim to make consumption our way of life. To keep their productive equipment and factories going, they must ritualize some consumer behavior. All these 3 factors will see a changing pattern in the near future.
To sum up one can say that consumers will neither be swayed by availability, conveniences, choices, discounts or peer competitions. This COVID -19 phase would pass by surely through medical interventions, but it will usher in something called increased savings and their spending which has traditionally supported 70 percent of our economy. If this goes down, our economy contracts in size. A slowdown in economic growth will lead to more unemployment. Add to the fact that more jobs are being lost to AI and robots. This will require capitalism to spend more on unemployment insurance, social Security, food stamps, food kitchens, and social assistance.
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