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Urban Middleclass Welcomes Dishwashers as Pandemic Disrupts Lifestyles

Covid-19 has changed everything — how we greet each other, work, dress, shop, learn, travel and even marry. It has achieved something which no amount of advertising could do — change consumer attitudes and behaviour in a matter of weeks.

By Neeraj Bahl

Covid-19 has changed everything — how we greet each other, work, dress, shop, learn, travel and even marry. It has achieved something which no amount of advertising could do — change consumer attitudes and behaviour in a matter of weeks.

It was a bolt from the blue for Indians, who had never experienced a massive nationwide shutdown in their lifetime. The initial days of the first lockdown led to anxiety and fear, causing panic buying of groceries and hygiene products in some cities.

What has also changed is the way Indians shop. The pandemic has radically changed consumer behaviour with 60% of the buyers believing that it will change the way they shop, according to an EY survey of more than 1,000 Indian consumers across the country.

New World of Work-from-Home (WFH)
Covid-19 also changed work. Those who thought WFH would mean a welcome escape from the daily commute were soon disillusioned. Combining office work and official meetings in a house with parents and kids is not only difficult but stressful. The situation is compounded by online classes for children. Not to mention poor Internet connectivity and power cuts.

The paramount need to fight infection and the desire to alleviate housework drudgery has opened the eyes of the urban middle class to the world of smart appliances. Sales of washing machines, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers and kitchen gadgets like mixers, grinders and juicers have surged after the lockdown.

Fighting Infections in Everyday Life
Laundry was always seen as a cleaning process to get rid of dirt, grime and sweat. It was not seen as a means to fight infection. In these pandemic times, doctors advise people to dip their clothes in buckets as soon as they reach home as washing them is critical to eliminating germs they may have picked up. But how you wash can make a lot of difference.

Modern-day washing machines offer much more than the removal of dirt. Bosch washing machine, for example, has an Allergy plus program which kills germs with its high temperature (60^C) process. No wonder it is a fool-proof way to disinfect clothes, in contrast to traditional hand wash. Use of Bosch wash dryer, which again dries clothes at 60^C, is another way to make sure that your clothes are free of harmful pathogens.

Dishwashers Take off in Urban Homes
At Bosch, we have seen a big surge in demand for dishwashers in recent months because of the amplified need for convenience and hygiene. We are inundated with enquiries and orders. Sales in July were more than twice the sales in July 2019. Demand has jumped by more than 70% according to an industry estimate, and searches on Google Trends also indicate the increased interest in the term ‘dishwasher’ between April and June.

Once considered a luxury appliance, the dishwasher has become an essential product in many urban households across India.

Our market research has discovered interesting insights behind the rising demand for dishwashers. Amidst the pandemic, many people have become chefs overnight. But with great cooking comes great cleaning. Dishwashers have become best friends to many new chefs in town. They have realised that it is an ideal kitchen appliance for an Indian household, taking care of curry stains in utensils like pressure cooker and kadai.

Other categories which are also doing well are front load washing machines and dryers, due to their hygienic and hot water wash features. Health is also a priority, with sales of products like slow juicers and mixer-grinders seeing rising demand.

Making Household Chores Safe and Joyous
For couples sharing office and housework from home, appliances like dishwashers bring significant ease and comfort and freedom from stress associated with a rising pile of dishes. Modern dishwashers like Bosch dishwashers not only use up to 85% less water but also ensure 99% germ-free utensils.

Amplifying Digital Touch points amid Lockdown
When it comes to safety and personal hygiene, consumers as well as communities are experiencing a new inflexion point. Marketers must be at the forefront of this transition by communicating accurate and helpful information.

Understanding the consumers’ anxieties has become the new normal for businesses. Fears associated with physical shopping have led to a big shift from offline to online. The pandemic is reiterated the importance of putting customers firsts. By putting your customers’ interests first, this can be a time for your company’s brand to lead.

The author is managing director & CEO at BSH Home Appliances. Views expressed in this article are his own.



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