The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the consumption habits in Indonesia, as trends previously seen in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia such as increased demand for certain grocery items and personal care products emerge.
Nielsen Indonesia, a top research company in the country, on Tuesday (14 April) released results from its survey last month, which found that the sale of eggs had soared 26 per cent, followed by that of poultry (25 per cent), beef (19 per cent), and produce (8 per cent).
Sales of pharmaceutical products jumped 48 per cent, followed by that of cooking spices (44 per cent) and home care products (33 per cent).
Even though 75 per cent of respondents chose to shop in conventional markets, online sales will potentially grow by 30 per cent, thanks to calls for people to ‘work from home’ during the pandemic.
The survey was carried out from March 2 to March 8, just a few days after Indonesia confirmed its first two COVID-19 cases.
Indrasena Patmawidjaja, Managing Director of Nielsen Connect Indonesia, told KompasTV that a global study from Nielsen identified six consumers’ buying patterns related to COVID-19 development, which began with the following:
- First, a healthy lifestyle proactive pattern or phase. When cases of COVID-19 were discovered outside China, sales of masks, antiseptic soaps tended to increase at the end of January in Indonesia;
- Second, healthy lifestyle proactive management, which took place when COVID-19 cases were confirmed in neighbouring countries before finally arriving in Indonesia at the end of February and in early March. Sales of soap, antiseptic products doubled and those of vitamins increased during that period.
- Third, shopping for kitchen preparation. The increase in the numbers of COVID-19 cases was seen in mid-March, pushing the sales of instant foods such as instant noodles, canned foods and cooking spices;
- Fourth, preparation for lockdown or quarantine at the end of March. People started restricting their activities outside their homes, driving them to buy in such a big amount.
Patmawidjaja stated that Indonesians are entering the fifth stage, which is living under restriction when several regions are enacting a large-scale social distancing or pembatasan sosial berskala besar (PSBB).
The “new normal” will be seen in the sixth stage, such as maintaining a clean lifestyle, cooking their dishes at home, and working from home — all of which will be viewed as regular habits in the future.
As Muslims will be observing the fasting month of Ramadan next week, there will be a switch in spending allocation, he added.
For example, there will be no gatherings for breaking fast or buka bersama — colloquially termed as bukber — due to the pandemic. However, people will buy food or cook to break their fast with their families at home.
Online grocery shopping appears to be popular in Jakarta, following the city’s decision to impose a full-scale social distancing period.
A TOC correspondent based in Jakarta tried to make a purchase at a grocery in South Jakarta using a shopping app at the end of March. However, the delivery slot was fully booked for a week.
The correspondent again tried to make a purchase via the same app today (14 April). However, all of the slots were again full, except for consumers paying with credit cards.
One of the grocers providing delivery services via WhatsApp told TOC that the delivery time was limited from 8am to 3pm, due to a spike in the number of orders.
On a separate occasion, a nurse at a private hospital in the satellite city of Depok in West Java told the TOC correspondent that the supply of masks has been scarce since January, and that the hospital management would prioritise conserving the supply of masks for its medical workers as a result.