Months of lockdown have stonked people’s feelings of wanderlust and yearning for adventure. However, travel as we know it is going to change significantly. There are also high chances that it would become largely unaffordable post-pandemic (1).
Consumers will look for different ways to travel and have the disposable income to spend on alternative adventures. It would reach far beyond the much talked about rising of staycations.
These days, games, online cultural cooking classes, and virtual experiences have helped people keep their travel spirit alive. The lockdown made them realize how much Call of Duty (with the Indian government banning PUBG) and Netflix their minds can absorb. They are looking at long weekends and vacation days and planning their adventure as a guilt-free way to slip out of work without a full-blown getaway.
As people are comparing everything to being locked up indefinitely in their houses, even a walk to the park allows them to feel like traveling. And it has made people willing to see the magic in a meal from their houses (2).
Consequently, people will search for ways to explore foreign experiences within their daily lives as they discover the benefits of travel even at home.
More people are limited in their homes now more than ever, and apart from in-home experiences, they now also crave outdoors and adventurous experiences. It is likely to soar further as people are restarting their lives, and rolling out of COVID-19 vaccines continues across the nation.
Let’s read on to know more about a handful of opportunities it would offer.
Indian consumers turned to exotic food selections pre-pandemic with demand for cuisines like Thai and Italian rising. The demand and desire for global foods would skyrocket as travel becomes even more of a luxury.
Moreover, with the pandemic restricting their movement, ordering has also turned into experiential dining. People are playing music, dressing up, setting the table, and recreating the dining-out experience at home.
It gives opportunities for entrepreneurs to offer subscriptions and deliver boxes of non-perishable and exotic goods.
Entrepreneurs could enter the growing space and niche with specific dietary requirements, kids boxes healthy versus treat boxes, holiday boxes, and more.
For instance, Novotel Chamiers has launched his meal kits to offer their diners the restaurant experience at home (3). Linen Club, the apparel brand, is also encouraging people to bring the restaurant experience home (4).
One can also focus on fresh, exotic cuisine with kits and produce subscriptions as people, after sinking their teeth into global cuisines, have turned them into gourmet cooks and are constantly craving for more.
For instance, Foodhall’s product range includes a wide range of products from all over the world. Nature’s Basket, of Godrej, offers exotic international gourmet products. According to Economic times, there has been a 30 to 60% growth in sales for international sauces and exotic food in Spencer’s and Nature’s Basket (5).
Restaurants and chefs specialize in ethnic food could also have monthly or weekly meals or meal-kit delivery services.
It is worth highlighting that this is not just about ethnic food. It is also about the experience. It allows entrepreneurs to branch out and include value-adds such as video tours, virtual vacations for people to enjoy over dinner, curated playlist, small souvenirs, and more.
Entrepreneurs can also offer movie or documentary pairings. It would work well for date night boxes, Which would allow people and their significant others a Korean experience from their living room.
There is also no need to be afraid to go super niche. Travelers these days are getting notorious for seeking out coffees and cafes. Why not offer services that bring coffee and a traditional breakfast item from a different country on weekends?
Another example includes our take-yourself wine tasting box. You can deliver South Africa’s or Australia’s wine farm experience with a cheese and wine pairing. Or a picnic box with baguettes, pastries, and a chequered blanket. The limit to approach is endless.
According to The Indian Express, 50% of Indians are keen on experimenting with authentic local cuisines and plan their vacations around. 1 in 4 Indians stated that they enjoy the local food. It is the most important reason to travel (6). Allowing you also to leverage our National gems. Explore local boxes that would deliver a taste of an Indian state or a particular cuisine to doorsteps.
Rising Demand for Self-care
The coronavirus Pandemic has forced most of us to spend more time with ourselves, more than ever. It has also reshaped and broadened the way many think about and prioritize how they are treating themself which has come to be called self-care.
For people in 2021, taking care of themselves has become a way for them to control the situation. And the worldwide isolation has produced new trends in beauty and clothing.
According to Vivek Bali, the CEO of Sephora India (7), people have more time to follow extension hair and beauty routine while stuck at home. There has been a strong trend for skincare and hair care.
Globally, several beauty chains, including Ulta and Macy’s, are ramping up offers in moisturizers and bath and body products. Walmart has also teamed up with Unilever to launch shops called ‘Find Your Happy Place’ for customers looking to distress. The concept, which was in the works before the pandemic, got accelerated by one year amid the pandemic.
As India continues to stay inside and isolated itself, people are finding comfort in self-care and skincare. A scroll across social media also seems to prove the same. People are nurturing, nourishing, and taking care of their hair and skin when there is no makeup requirement.
As the world is navigating through a wave of the unknown that sometimes feels upside-down, people do something about it for themselves.
For all the horror the pandemic brought, it has also revealed things that matter. And the way people have reacted through the year, it seems clear that in all the forms it takes, self-care matters, particularly right now with so many unknowns still ahead.
As the demand for self-care experience, products, and subscriptions is on the rise, it allows entrepreneurs to directly bring the bathhouse experience to the customers via at-home spa kits.
Entrepreneurs can also bring a wide range of self-experiences to their consumers including, Ayurvedic and other Asian options. Like dry-brushing, body oil packs, and rice water products.
They can also fully immerse their consumers via including playlists, luxury clothing, decor items, scents, and guidelines and outlines of the cultural history behind these products.
Spas can also leverage the opportunity by offering authentic Balinese, Ayurvedic, Thai, and more experiences locally.
Shopping can be a big part of travel, and entrepreneurs can bring global luxury D2C.
With micro vacations, high and cosmetics, personal care products, automobiles, wedding clothes, retail, art, streetwear, sneakers, anything you name it, a luxury version of that category now exists in India. These products cater to the increasing number of expiring Indians who are now spending more than ever.
The fact that Indians have started to spend more on luxury is a clear indication of the maturing taste of Indian consumers and the demand for better things in life. The demand and trend seem to rise, indicating their need to experience newer and better things that only a few can afford.
Fuelled by access to the internet and international trends, Indians desire enhanced experiences to make their lives better. Regardless, cash-rich, time-poor middle class, and upper-middle-class, all Indians drive the rise in spending across categories.
While Indian customers are demanding and price-conscious, at the same time, they are expecting nothing but the best and maximum bang for their money. They seem to be ready to spend for the right luxury mixed with the correct details and taste to create an amazing experience.
Bolstered by rising disposable income, the upper-middle class and the middle class have become the luxury business darling, with several brands launching affordable luxury products to first-time luxury consumers (8).
According to a recent report, more than 300 international brands are planning to open stores in India in the next few years, which indicates a strong belief in the Indian luxury market potential.
Another report suggests that while the global luxury market’s size is estimated to be around 2 trillion USD, India’s luxury market is likely to grow at 50 billion USD, amounting to about 1.5 to 2 % of the total global market (9).
Since more and more Indians are getting fuelled by global motility and having experiences in different cultures and trends, the demand for similar or even better experiences from the same brands in India is also on the rise.
All of these have pushed the luxury sector to improve services and offer a better holistic experience. As the middle class in India grows in size and capacity, first-time luxury consumers and millennials would be the key to success in the post-pandemic era.
Brands that have been strategizing a better experience for the consumers will win in the short and long-term.
It also offers several local entrepreneurs vast opportunities. They can help local manufacturers to develop global distribution channels. One can also design a platform that collates the best international luxury goods where consumers can shop by country and category.
One can also offer subscriptions to gift boxes filled with less expensive exotic items. For instance, Blossom Gif Box (10) offers curate aesthetically appealing gift boxes for different occasions. The company observed a spike in demand, with more people asking for self care and subscription boxes.
The coronavirus pandemic has made people aware of the significance of staying fit and boosting their immunity. While in the lockdown, many people worked out indoors, and outdoor activities have started to pick up again as restrictions are starting to ease (11).
There is also an increasing consumer attraction towards different outdoor adventures and experiences like camping, hiking, biking, and trekking.
After spending a lot of time inside in 2020, the upcoming years will see an uptick in outdoor travel activities with anything that would take people close to nature (12).
Over the next five years, camping is forecasted to reach its all-time new heights. Startups in the space include Airbnb and other similar platforms where hosts with more than 15+ acres rent out land for the night. If you don’t have 15 acres, you can still offer camping rentals in backyards of 2+ acres. You can also complete the offer with add-ons like a campfire, BBQ, and an open theatre.
Exotic sports and experiences also present attractive opportunities. Several travelers take part in meditation, yoga retreats, bird spotting, and more, and demand for local options may also observe a surge (13).
Entrepreneurs can also offer different experiences via Virtual/Augmented Reality such as AR Tai Chi, complete with virtual classmates or Yoga class on a Himalayan valley.
There has been a rise in interest in new and foreign outdoor experiences, and it is likely to be further boosted by increased interest in local travel.
One can also offer guides, day trips, and holiday packages that incorporate different experiences. Entrepreneurs can also offer different international experiences locally.