As might be expected, there are high levels of concern among Asian consumers about the impact COVID-19 is having, both directly on their own lives and on a global scale. According to Innova Market Insights’ COVID-19 Consumer Survey (conducted in March 2020), in China, India, and Indonesia, personal concerns center on health, personal income, and the availability of healthcare and products to buy.
Personal health and the health of family and friends tops the list of concerns across all three countries, with impact on personal income/finances ranked as second. Indian consumers were the most concerned, with 73% stating that they were very concerned about their health and that of their families and friends. This is compared with 58% in China and 52% in Indonesia.
Health considerations have become more influential on purchasing decisions, with consumers trying to eat more healthily and consuming products in a bid to boost immunity. These include ingredients such as turmeric in India, chrysanthemum and cordyceps flower in China, and royal jelly, ginger, and mint in Indonesia. Familiarity, comfort, and improving mood are also seen as increasingly important factors for food and beverage choices during the crisis. Health, shelf life, and cost are taking on a greater significance with regard to purchasing decisions, while factors such as flavor and indulgence appear to be declining in importance. Research from Innova Market Insights indicated that the main changes in attitude/behavior in India and China included more cooking/preparing of homemade food, more healthy eating, and more eating/drinking products to boost immune health.
Fresh fruit and vegetables and juices and nectars are some of the top categories benefiting from this trend, as consumers look to them as a means of boosting health. At the same time, consumers claimed to be purchasing lower levels of less healthy, indulgent, and highly processed options, such as ice cream, pizza, cakes, and pastries.
There has also been an acceleration in the growth of online grocery shopping as movements are restricted and physical stores cannot easily be accessed. The rise in grocery apps in China, for example, encompasses developments in supermarkets, dedicated grocery apps, and food delivery platforms. Restaurants have been quick to offer home delivery, but many consumers are also willing to order online and go out and pick up takeout. In China, 37% of consumers claimed to be ordering more restaurant/café food online, while 34% were picking up takeout food and meals more often.