Indian consumers are increasingly buying local products, brands that help benefit local communities and economies and focus on environmental issues after Covid-19
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Consumers are paying more and more attention to where the ingredients in products they use are coming from

Indian consumers are increasingly buying local products, brands that help benefit local communities and economies and focus on environmental issues after Covid-19

Consumers are paying more and more attention to where the ingredients in products they use are coming from
  • Covid-19 has changed the way we buy, it has changed the reasons we buy certain products and brands too. There is an increasing focus on brands that are sourcing locally, helping the community and are transparent about everything that goes into making them.
  • Also, brands that are trying to help the environment, are sustainable are finding more and more takers, according to a recent study by Mintel.
  • We look at this trend of an increased focus on localism and talk to a few brands that are gaining from it.
Covid-19 has brought about a huge change in how and what we consume. Over the past one and a half years, people have become more and more conscious about where their products come from, the kind of ingredients that are being used, how closely brands are working with local communities and help benefit them and how serious they are about helping the environment. According to findings of Mintel’s recent ‘Attitudes towards Localism –Indian Consumer – 2021’ reports, consumers have been showing heightened interest in local products due to COVID-19. And no, it is not just Gen Z’s who are giving this trend a push.

The pandemic led consumers across all age groups to lean towards traditions in foods, beauty regimes or health and wellness. The study, which took into account opinions of 3000 people across the country states that 39% of people aged 35-44+ expect brands to offer traditional ingredients in packaged formats. The pandemic has heightened concerns around product quality, and 48% of men aged 35+ look for products which offer transparency about use of local ingredients. The study also reveals that there is an increasing affinity for brands that give back to the society and are trying to support communities as 46% of 35-44 year old women are keen on products that support social causes.

Moreover, around 45% of Indians switched to buying locally-grown produce since the pandemic, a trend highest among women aged 35-44 (58%). This same group of women also led the switch to buying more organic products. The report suggests that this is an opportunity for local brands to talk about their sustainability efforts by calling out how they source their products and how this impacts the environment.

Speaking about some of the key factors that have led to people leaning towards localism, Nidhi Sinha, Head of Content, Mintel Indian Consumer said, “The pandemic paved the way for local products to come to the fore. With challenges in the supply chain coupled with the need for familiarity, consumers increasingly took to local products. With the health halo at its pinnacle, people were inherently looking to increase their immunity, improve their health and also deal with mental health issues. The answer to these was in the usage of traditional, ayurvedic ingredients like giloy, ashwagandha and so on.

“Another sentiment which led to consumers leaning to the localism pillar is the fact that these products help local communities. As people struggled to meet ends due to the imposed lockdown restrictions, consumption of local produce helped consumers to pass on benefits to local artisans, farmers and communities. 34% of consumers prefer products that support local communities. Technology enabled small time local setups to reach consumers. Usage of apps like WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook helped connect consumers to producers thus making concepts like farm-to-fork easy to take to.”

The need for comfort and familiarity has been one of the biggest factors in this trend. “With 37% of consumers looking for products that are aligned to local culture, consumers have been seeking familiarity and comfort especially in these tough times. The launch of products like thandai from paper boat and ubtan from Mama Earth are proof of how consumers look for familiarity in line with a global consumer trend of Culturally Connected,” shared Sinha.

While Indians have been increasingly focusing on health for the past few years, the pandemic just gave this trend the right push. “Around 43% of consumers today expect products to have ingredients which provide added benefits. Also, the affinity towards online shopping as well as better last-mile-delivery means that traditional setups can reach consumers, thus, making local products easy to use,” added Sinha.

WOW Skin Science is a brand that has witnessed good growth in the past few years. A lot of its growth has come on the back of its usage of natural ingredients in its products. It has also been actively working on making its products and packaging more eco-friendly.

On whether its focus on local ingredients has helped it attract consumers, Manish Chowdhary, Co founder, WOW Skin Science said, “There has been a greater preference for natural plant-based local products in recent times. Using high-quality local ingredients has been one of the factors responsible for our growth. Our product formulations are nature-inspired, science-backed and safety-tested, sourcing the best ingredients to create effective products that are also affordable. We’re completely transparent about the ingredients that go into our products and we stay true to our claim of being paraben, sulphate and silicone-free.”

Just 7-years-old, this year, the brand aims to achieve revenues of around Rs 800 crore.

Even when it comes to brands selling home décor, people are leaning towards brands that are intrinsically Indian, in terms of its designs and offerings. “We not only engage in sourcing our materials locally but also are actively collaborating with local artisans to introduce traditional arts and craft forms into the mainstream market. This includes products in our home décor and accessories range along with the addition of beautiful face masks made of Maheshwari fabric. As a brand that respects the value of tradition and heritage, we felt that this pivoting was a necessary step to keep our traditional crafts alive during the COVID-19 crisis. This range garnered quite a lot of attention, in fact, we sold out the range within a week of its launch and have placed repeat orders with these artisans for the products,” said Krsnaa Mehta, Founder & Executive Director at India Circus.

The brand has witnessed over 2x growth over last year with products in decor and dining categories leading the chart.

For SLAY Coffee, that sources its beans from the mountains of Chikmagalur, growth was consistent through the pandemic.

“In the context of the pandemic, consumers are increasingly preferring brands that they can trust where the experience is consistent, predictable, and of course safe. While there has been an increase in the number of ‘Made in India’ labels, Indian customers are witnessing a more subtle and a good change. Likewise, we are giving our customers products that are not just made in India but that are made for India. The pandemic outbreak has left a significant impact on the export and import industry. Amidst the labels like ‘Made in India’, we've been seeing a lot of domestic commodities and local manufacturers come into the light and such initiatives are producing profitable results and this is also good for boosting the Indian economy,” shared Chaitanya Chitta, CEO & Co-founder, SLAY COFFEE.

Whether this trend is here to stay, only time will tell. But for now, it is refreshing to see more and more brands listen to their consumers and offer them exactly what they have been wishing for.