• The Reimagine Team

How To Make Sense Of Changing Consumer Behavior And Embrace The Next Normal

In late 2020, we hosted a supply chain insights webinar in Asia. The event was part of our continuing efforts to facilitate an industry-wide conversation about how to collectively build a safe, sustainable future for our sector. During the opening presentation (see a link to 10-minute full video below), Adithya Sari, HAVI’s Vice President, South East Asia Cluster, addressed the radical changes in consumer behavior during the early days of the pandemic. At Supply Chain Reimagined (SCR), we caught up with Adithya to expand on some of his thought-provoking insights, which remain as relevant as ever.

SCR: Thanks for giving us the chance to follow up on your webinar presentation. Can you start by summarizing the impact that this pandemic’s extraordinary disruption has had, specifically on consumer behavior?

AS: In short: the arrival of the first lockdowns changed everything about everyday lives. For a start, consumers became far more conscious about health and safety – and food safety, in particular. But everything else about our lives has undergone a significant transformation. As consumers, we now live differently, we study differently, we socialize differently, we shop differently... The common denominator between these multiple changes is that they all involve moving our lives online.

SCR: Agreed: the shift to digital remains a major factor in shaping our next normal. So, how has this shift changed the foodservice landscape in Asia?

AS: We’ve seen a big switch from dine-in to takeaways and home deliveries. The cloud or ghost kitchen industry is gaining popularity. More people started cooking at home, so they began buying more fresh fruit, vegetables and meat rather than convenience foods.

We’re not just talking about passing trends, by the way. We’re talking about new and lasting habits. Online shopping, digital marketing and e-commerce, for example, will keep surging long after Covid-19.

SCR: To many people in our sector, the sheer speed and scale of the disruption we have experienced sometimes feels overwhelming. What key priorities do you see emerging from the upheaval and what questions are Important?

AS: As I point out in the presentation, it would make sense for businesses to respond to consumers’ own priorities by focusing on maximizing food safety. And as businesses prepare to restart, fully understanding the type of experience that consumers are now looking for is another important consideration. It won’t be the same experience now as it was at the start of 2020.

The sort of questions that businesses should continue to ask could include, for example: are we set up for contactless interactions? Are we communicating with consumers so that they trust us to keep them safe? Have we adapted our packaging to match changing behaviour? Above all: are we digital-ready?

I believe that if we stay focused on finding the right responses to the many questions we face, our industry will become even stronger.

SCR: Many thanks indeed for your time and insights. There is so much rich information in your presentation that playing it in full is certainly time well spent for our readers.

NOTE ON VIDEO STREAMING: For readers in countries where Vimeo is banned (such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and China, to name a few), please contact us and we would be happy to share through other means.

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