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FMCG product availability & new products introduced during the pandemic time

Many markets, including FMCG, struggled during the lockdown period in India as COVID disrupted every service model. As companies reported a decline in sales, disruption in supply chain except for handwash during the pandemic period, two companies product stand apart in India. These are Parle-G and Maggi due to longer shelf life. As mentioned in my previous blog “Changes in consumer behaviour during the challenging pandemic time”, consumers experienced out-of-stock in stores during the quarantined living preparation, resulting in consumers taking whatever was available be it economy or premium priced. Taking a few examples in this blog (Parle-G, Maggie, Mother dairy, Amul panchamrit), I discuss the availability of these products, some new products introduced, product awareness and the consumer behavioural aspects of these brands during the lockdown period. Further, as a conclusion of this blog, I will discuss the social and economic impact on our economies.

The first example of Parle-G biscuits

Parle’s [2] first factory was set up in 1929 with just 12 people manufacturing confectionery. Parle-G is known for ubiquitous biscuits, a tea-time favourite for many in India. Being a 90-year-old, the company has diversified beyond Parle-G biscuits into western and traditional Indian snacks.

The first example of Parle-G biscuits 

A tweet [1] that appeared “Bharat ka apna biscuit” by Parle-G

Parle’s [2] first factory was set up in 1929 with just 12 people manufacturing confectionery. Parle-G is known for ubiquitous biscuits, a tea-time favourite for many in India. Being a 90-year-old, the company has diversified beyond Parle-G biscuits into western and traditional Indian snacks.

The Parle-G biscuit, known to be produced in India since 1938, is now priced at a mere Rs2 price tag. The company booked its best sales during this COVID pandemic time what it has not been able to achieve in the past 8 decades, as per the report published in economic times [3]. The report also states that though the sales figures were not shared, the 3 months (March to April) has been the best months in over 8 decades. The unprecedented growth has been attributed to the share of Parle-G, which stands at 80%-90%.

Their strategy was to have their factories operational by arranging safer transport for workers. Once their factories were kept operational, the sales grew for their brands. One of the strategies the company (Parle) adopted was on their distribution channel, ensuring product availability at retail outlets. It is not hidden from us about the high influx of migrant workers from cities travelling back to their respective villages and surviving on Parle-G biscuits for days together [4]. Hence in a difficult time, probably this was the only food that was readily available for few or for those who cannot afford.

 The report also adds that humungous quantities were bought by several NGOs and state governments; thereby, the company restarting its production for Parle-G biscuits. 

Other Examples

Nestle India, the producer of Maggi and chocolates, reported a double-digit increase in domestic sales [5]. This sales growth of 10.8% for Maggi during the quarter has been attributed to the consumer stockpiling (as mentioned earlier) and e-commerce. The report also states that as of the Q1CY20, Nestle has reported ₹33,253 mn in revenues as compared to ₹31,493 mn in the last quarter of 2019.

 Mother Dairy now produces Haldi milk [6] emphasising on product benefit to boost immunity and their recent video advertisement [7] with a tagline “apne family ko den rishton ki immunity” has relevance to attract consumers. This ad focuses on the emotional connect of mother and child relationship.

Similarly, we can notice that new, culturally regional products are now being introduced in the market. Amul launched Panchamrit, during the month of July-2020, which is a mixture of five ingredients that are normally offered as a ‘prasad’ in temples, as hygiene becomes a focal point in coronavirus panic. Unlike other consumer brands, Amul is reported to have doubled its marketing spends during lockdown [9].

Social and Economic Impact

Due to the lack of a vaccine, worldwide few companies are working toward providing a proposed and reliable solution towards the COVID-19. The proposed vaccine needs to go through clinical trial and rigorous testing before it can be released.

The lockdown and frequent disruption in services have affected the economies worldwide. Many individuals career plans have been damaged as most businesses lost sales thereby causing a cascading effect into firing, hiring freeze, delayed payments through creditors, reduced marketing and advertising, cancelled orders to avoid maintaining inventory. The effect has been noticed worse than the economic downturn and financial crisis.

Change in the habit of Consumers

A psychological and social change is brought into the habitual behaviour wherein consumers have started going online even to buy grocery. The shift can be noticed from in-store buying to online buying and getting them delivered at the doorstep. The emphasis is laid to the lower layers of Maslow’s hierarchy with people focusing on food, shelter and safety measures (with masks, social distancing and avoiding any mass gathering). Consumers might buy & stock packaged food, opt to purchase brands that are perceived safe, spend carefully including buying necessary electronic items or eating in restaurants, thereby saving money.

What happens when the lockdown is relaxed or opened completely is difficult to predict further changes in consumer behaviour. The emerging self-conscious consumers have now opted to a simplified lifestyle, and it will take time to revert this change in the attitude of consumers. The changes brought are right from the educational sector (school, college and universities), working remotely to being a cautious buying behaviour of the consumer.

Businesses need to get ready to work on a new market model and strategy, assess the environmental dimensions keeping in view the spread of virus and availability of the vaccine. Business needs to strategise and take into consideration some of these critical questions related to their performance and continued earnings: how to perform with the existing products, which of them to retain and consider expanding in newer products which are in demand.

DisclaimerThe views, opinions, and content on this blog are solely those of the authors. ISME does not take responsibility for the content which are plagiarized or not quoted.





[4] Report in BBC news: