renovation: Consumer spending on home renovations slows down due to pandemic

(This story originally appeared in on Oct 12, 2020)

MUMBAI: Consumer spending on home renovations is still continuing, albeit in a piecemeal manner. Experts from industries across paints, home furnishings and bathroom fittings said consumers have been staggering their spends and are taking up renovations only when needed. Earlier, people used to overhaul their houses on impulse, mainly for festive occasions.

In a recent interview with TOI, Asian Paints MD & CEO Amit Syngle said if customers were earlier keen on refurbishing all the rooms of the house in one go, they are now restricting it to just one room at a time. “Discretionary spends have come down and people are postponing heavy expenses,” said Syngle.

Jaquar, however, said there is no data to suggest people are only going in for part-refurbishing. “Either the customer is going in for complete renovations or postponing it for some more time,” said Jaquar Group director & promoter Rajesh Mehra.

Roca bathroom products, on the other hand, found that although the pandemic had a major economic effect on customers’ spending power in many ways, home improvement is one category where customers have started paying more attention than ever, given the work-from-home culture.

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Roca Parryware MD K E Ranganathan said the challenge was that customers were now only willing to indulge in renovations that were need-based and had become a necessity for them. “Observing this rational approach of customer demand, we pushed relevant products of our portfolio that focused on maximising hygiene in the bathroom space,” said Ranganathan. A pent-up demand is also said to be fuelling the recovery process. Ranganathan said Roca’s sales rebounded to 100% in September this year, reaching the same level as September 2019.

What’s critical, said Syngle, is the trust quotient that has gone up and consumers are willing to invest in another service of the same brand. “Asian Paints wanted to be a part of the consumer’s life, be it their kitchens, their living rooms or bathrooms,” said Syngle. It’s for this reason that Asian Paints is no longer just a paints company. It recently forayed into furniture, furnishings and lighting, after first entering the modular kitchen space. “We are not going in for blind diversifications. Our connect with homes is strong and our mindshare is higher than our marketshare. Rather than surfaces, we said let’s talk about between the walls of consumers’ homes, to get a share of their home space,” said Syngle.

Jaquar, which has seen new demand from consumers for its affordable segment, noticed a radical shift in the way people interact with their homes — a trend that will also impact their future design choices. “The legacy of Covid-19 would definitely be teaching the consumer to look at their house with a new pair of eyes. Considering the significant role our homes have played during the entire crisis, it is interesting to see consumer behaviour towards their own home change drastically over the last few months. Home is no longer a space which we need only at the end of a long day. Now with the home donning multiple hats, people have started questioning the functionality of their decor and the spaces they created,” said Mehra.

While retail and projects got affected due to Covid, Jaquar said almost 80-85% of pre-pandemic numbers are back. Some projects will still take time to return to normalcy. Jaquar said retail is showing growth and tier-2, -3 and -4 markets are on an upswing.

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