Consumer behaviour has completely been changed by Covid-19, webinar told

Updated 15 May 2020

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Participants in the webinar.—Photo by writer
Participants in the webinar.—Photo by writer

KARACHI: Hysab Kytab, a mobile app aimed to help people stay within budget and spend and live better by managing their finances better, organised a webinar on the topic of Covid-19 and its impact on consumer spending behaviour on Thursday.

The world has changed a lot. From a 66 per cent decline in the amount spent on eating out, to a 70 per cent increase in the amount spent on groceries, the discussion looked at what else has changed with actual data insights and analysis on change in consumer spending behaviour.

Veqar Islam, CEO of Hysab Kytab, explained that in the new world that we find ourselves now, one needs to remain mindful of one’s savings and spending budget. “Businesses also need data to move now as do the consumers,” he said before sharing some insights about the Hysab Kytab app, which comes in handy here.

Yasir Ilyas, head of Hysab Kytab, then discussed how things had changed so suddenly in Pakistan after March 24. “The spending habits of people have changed. We are noticing changing trends in transactions and spending across different categories,” he said.

Looking at the data, he shared that there was a 58 per cent increase in the amount spent on groceries, with an increase of 10 per cent in Ramazan. He also said this trend was also expected to decline because many consumers had stock piled groceries as they bought in bulk.

Mobile app for home budgeting launched

Mr Islam then pointed out that the world was in the Covid-19 pandemic for the long haul. “It is not going to go away soon, and we have to learn to live with it. Of course, will be relaxation in lockdown like we have now with some markets reopening but it will be followed by increase in self isolation followed again by a bit of ease. And this is going to continue until there is a cure for the coronavirus available,” he said.

“Hence groceries will remain as the most-needed item,” he added.

Mr Ilyas said that now there was a lot of cooking and eating at home, and Ramazan has also not been able to bring much change to this.

He also said that there was also change in mobility and fuel consumption with a trend of drop in fuel and transport. “A lot of companies have seen a 13 per cent decline in the amount spent on fuel and transportation. The work from home trend has also contributed to this,” he said.

To this, Mr Islam said that the physical world was not going to completely go away but the digital world would accelerate during the pandemic. “So we need all systems online to help people keep social distance. Companies, too, need to free up physical spaces and shift people online,” he said.

Another changing trend is the lack of requirement of hailing online services such as Careem, Uber, Airlift, Swvl, etc. “Post Covid-19 and lockdown, there has been a 78 per cent reduction in these transport services. Some of them now provide food delivery services,” said Mr Ilyas.

Online shopping has also seen much increase. Mr Ilyas reminded that shopping doesn’t stop as now even groceries were being ordered online. “So companies, which do not provide good services will fade away as even after the pandemic this space will still be there,” he said.

Mr Islam added to this by providing some significant data. “There has been an increase by 35 per cent of sellers on Daraz.pk and most of the sellers are from the informal sector. So this is how the physical world and the digital world will continue and blend together, and the data available will be important here for both businesses and consumers,” he pointed out.

It was also pointed out that in order for all this online selling and shopping and working from home to be possible there was also the need for good telecommunication services.

Mr Ilyas also mentioned the need for good internet for online education.

Another thing highlighted during the webinar was online entertainment providers such as Netflix as movie theatres are now a thing of the past.

Mr Islam said that Netflix may get local competition. “But the competitors will also have to come up with their own niche and make hay while the sun shines,” he said.

He also said that in the early days of the pandemic they had no data but now that it had accumulated all over the world, decision making had improved after gathering, sifting and analysing that data.

The webinar was moderated by Javeria Haseeb.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2020