4 minute read 24 Dec 2020
Digital consumer behaviour

Keeping up with new digital consumers; the Indian homemakers

By EY India

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

4 minute read 24 Dec 2020
Related topics Consulting

The ‘Sentiments of India: homemakers, the backbone of our homes' report looks at the impact of the pandemic on consumption patterns of Indian homemakers as they increasingly adopt digital for work and entertainment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our daily schedules and families are spending more time together in their homes. Homes have now evolved into more than a place of shelter and rest. The latest EY study Sentiments of India: homemakers, the backbone of our homes”, explores the changing dynamics of the traditional Indian home from the lens of the homemaker. EY identified nine key themes where the pandemic has impacted the behaviors and consumption patterns of homemakers, turning them into digital consumers.

Impact of digital transformation

The survey findings indicate homemakers in the age group of 20-37 years switched to online medium in at least one of the categories, however, 42% homemakers over 48 years old depend on their spouse or someone else to place orders online. The resulting digital transformation in the consumer’s behaviour has resulted in spouses and children becoming influencers for digital uptake and actively engaging in household decision-making as well.

Health, yoga, immunity and more

Uncertainty and anxiety brought about by the pandemic has resulted in a sharp focus on health and wellbeing. As a result, homemakers are becoming flagbearers for family health and immunity. They are driving consumption towards the same.

  • 43% respondents started consuming herbal products
  • 39% respondents said that they consider heath and immunity boosting properties in their purchases

Bundling products into immunity packs and family baskets may help brands drive sales of a larger product and service portfolio.

Effort minimization over price minimization

Homemakers are turning to products and channels that help them save time and effort. Convenience and do-it-yourself (DIY) techniques are driving consumption changes

  • 52% respondents increased usage of online services and digital payments to save time
  • 28% respondents in the high- and medium-spend category purchased convenience goods like standing mops, choppers, etc.

Challenging gender norms: paving the for more gender-neutral homes

The lockdown has given family members a chance to get up close and personal, and experience the challenges of being a homemaker. Homemaking is becoming a shared responsibility. Family members are pitching in and actively participating in their consumption choices.

  • 48% homemakers delegate decision-making about brand preference when relying on other family members to place online orders

Reducing digital divide but gaps remain

Homemakers are rapidly adopting digital channels; however, digital education remains a bottleneck

  • 52% respondents switched to online channels for purchasing at least a category of essentials
  • 48% respondents stated that UPI and digital wallets as their preferred modes of payment

Currently the uptick in fintech is limited to digital payments. However, potential for penetration of digital tools in other areas like insurancewealth management, budget management remains to be seen.

  • Managing fixed deposits (FDs) and investments was cited as the prerogative of spouse with minimal involvement from the homemaker.
  • Lack of awareness and confidence in handling investment and insurance matters was cited as primary deterrents to adoption of digital tools in this space.

Though there is an accelerated uptake of online shopping among homemakers, digital literacy still remains a bottleneck for wider adoption of digital channels, especially in the older age categories. To eliminate this digital divide, brands should develop user-friendly interfaces specially designed for this segment.

Consumer baskets are growing, with room for experimentation

Most households have reduced frequency of purchases and increased basket size in order to reduce store visits. Additionally, there is an increasing openness to try alternate brands.

  • 35% respondents stated that they have switched to alternate brands in at least one grocery category since the pandemic

Festivities to be smaller, more intimate and more digital

Households are planning intimate festivities and are expressing caution over spending.

  • 84% respondents indicated that they would celebrate the festive season at home with only members of their own household.
  • 24% respondents would prefer to courier gifts to their loved ones during the upcoming festive season

Homemakers get demanding: the rise of over-the-top (OTT) and online platforms

Influenced by their children, homemakers are getting accustomed to digital platforms for entertainment and learning, in addition to taking up traditional offline hobbies like gardening and cooking

  • 50% respondents said they spend more time watching content on OTT platforms

Stay home, stay safe may not be just a fad

Staying indoors may indeed become a long-term preference over going out. Homes have become the epicenter of activities with households staying home to stay safe.

  • 52% would prefer cooking exotic meals at home over going to a restaurant
  • 51% would prefer watching OTT premiers over going to movie theatre

Leaning in: homemakers have more to bring to the table

Homemakers are looking for suitable support systems to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit and have increasing aspirations to work and upskill

  • 11% homemakers are already engaged n part-time jobs/side business or family business
  • 19% younger homemakers aged between 20-37 years are also turning to online education platforms for upskilling opportunities
  • 55% In contrast, majority of the homemakers above 48 years, do not have any such plans

Since work from home has got increasing mainstream acceptance, homemakers are looking to engage their time in taking up remote working opportunities. Organizations should relook at the structure of their workforce to leverage the skills offered by this untapped section of the population. Young homemakers are entrepreneurial in nature and are already working on business ideas. To enable implementation of these ideas, organizations and governments could support incubator programs and develop supportive financing options.

Digital transformation and consumer behaviour

Overall, brand loyalty is on the test with homemakers open to trying and opting for new brands. To win in adversity, brands will need to build strong differentiators to hold the increasingly flexible customer base. Digital transformation has brought about a change in the consumer journey and identifying consumer behaviour will help the brands. There lies a potential for white label brands as consumers are now more open to trying out new brands. Brands can impact their top line positively by increasing their product assortments and optimizing customer offerings through product bundling and promotions.

Social developments in the recent few years have given recognition and respect to homemakers. However, the pandemic has led professionals and working class to experience the life of homemakers in the new normal. 


As the pandemic brings about changes in the environment at home, it also beckons change in the way homemakers consume and drive consumption in the family by shifting to online channels, more prominently in the essential category of purchases. 

About this article

By EY India

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

Related topics Consulting