India’s shift from offline to online has been significant during lockdown – Comscore

Consumer behavior during Covid-19

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India
Time spend per visitor per month Photo: Comscore

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 induced lockdown in India, consumers have been confined at home. With restrictions on movement in place, the internet has become the main channel to work, socialize, entertain, and explore the world. As per a Comscore survey published on 4 June, the shift from offline to online activity in India has been significant. The time spent per visitor per month jumped during the month of March 2020, compared with the previous month – an 18% increase. It then went on to breach the 3,400 minutes per visitor per month mark during the month of April 2020, which was previously the highest level ever recorded since Comscore started measuring digital audiences in India. By the end of April 2020, consumers had spent an average of more than 3,600 minutes per visitor per month – or more than two hours per day per visitor.

Most of the time spent online was spent on a handful of digital categories, namely entertainment (28 average minutes per visitor per day), social networks (25 average minutes per visitor per day), services (23 average minutes per visitor per day), instant messengers (19 average minutes per visitor per day), games (12 average minutes per visitor per day), news (7 average minutes per visitor per day), and retail (4 average minutes per visitor per day), Comscore said.

As per the survey, games, social networking, and instant messengers sites were among the digital categories that increased the most: by 62%, 35%, and 33%, respectively. Comscore said that the increase is considerable given how deeply engrained into consumers’ lives these categories already were prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Comscore said that it was too soon to tell if these behavioral changes are temporary or long-lasting. “Stay-at-home restrictions are gradually being lifted, and it is possible that some of these digital trends will revert to pre-pandemic patterns, but others may become permanent new habits,” it said.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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