The new, improved post-coronavirus home

Anant Rangaswami, May 12, 2020

It’s time to make my predictions. For what they’re worth.

You get onto social media and there are hundreds of predictions on what our world will look like in a post-Coronavirus era. You check your mail and every consultancy in the world, it seems, has done a study and a prognosis for the post-Covid19 world.

In the past fortnight, I’ve interviewed or had conversations with Sir Martin Sorrell, Richard Edelman, RS Sodhi, Suresh Narayan, Rama Bijapurkar and Rahul Welde – and all the conversations revolve around this impending world.

And it’s time to make my predictions. For what they’re worth. They’re based on the ‘Piyush Pandey school of research’ – it’s a distillation of all my conversations, with the names above and with family and friends and my consequent inferences. It’s a rambling list, not quite categorized.

Entry to the house and the consequences

Things are not going to be the same again. For the foreseeable future, footwear will have to be removed as you enter the house. What are the consequences of this?

For starters, we need something for the footwear to be placed in, neatly. That means many urban houses will have some sort of shoe-rack placed outside or just inside the house.

If inside the house, more attention will be drawn to both your shoes and, in the cases of males, your socks as well.
Sandals will make a big comeback. Cool socks are a must.
Doormats outside the house will be a must.

So what do we have here? Shoe-rack, shoes, socks, sandals and doormats.

Carpets and what a pain they are

So you needed carpets and rugs and dhurries in the house to announce to the world that you had arrived. The lockdown has taught us what a pain they are. Try and sweep and swab the house and the carpet makes the job that much harder.

So the vacuum cleaner becomes tempting. 

The vacuum cleaner with a cord is so passé – so a cordless vacuum cleaner. Perhaps one of those robot-cleaners, like the Roomba. But the Roomba cannot ‘climb’ the various levels that are so in fashion in so many modern flats – that funny inch or two between rooms. So I guess architects will have to re-think these style-driven elements in general.

For those who stick to the wired vacuum cleaners, take a quick look for the plug points at home. You will be surprised how impractically placed some are. Or how all the available points are ‘occupied’. Call the electrician and sort it out.

Now that you’ve experienced swabbing your floors, you know how physically draining it is. So you’re going to look at mops to replace the jhadan. Simple mops that allow you to be upright as you clean the house.

So here’s this list: vacuum cleaners, some electricals, more modern mopping kit.

The high involvement with various liquids

Face it. You’ve never ‘known’ the fragrances of the liquids and powders that clean various things in the house. The floor cleaner. The liquid that you use to wash your kitchenware and cutlery and crockery. The detergents to launder your clothes. The cleaning liquids for the wash-basin and for the loo and the loo floor. Whatever you clean the furniture surfaces with.

At the end of the lockdown, you know the smells. You like some of them. You dislike some of them. You know that some work and that some don’t.

And you discuss these LIQUIDS and POWDERS with friends who know better. You’re INVOLVED.
What a wet dream for all those marketing all these erstwhile ‘low-involvement’ category products.

Look out for lots of ads for these…
And look out for lots of arguments between husbands and wives in aisles of supermarkets.
And look out for bemused and amused maids at home.

The impact of the lockdown Masterchef

Except for those who did their cooking themselves in the pre-lockdown world, let’s admit it: the rest of us had no clue what was in the kitchen. And as far as things that were in the kitchen, we didn’t know where they were.

The kitchen is in for a treat and some serious splurging.

By the time you re-stock the kitchen, you will KNOW what is there, in what quantities and where they are.

Lots of new jars and dabbas and bottles, all labeled so they can be found easily. Knives that can cut (because you’ve discovered that the existing ones are useless). All the spices and sauces and pastes that are manufactured. (Because you wanted to cook something and the YouTube video called for a lot of these and you found you didn’t have them or had no clue that you had them).

And for the more sophisticated (read: those who THINK they’re Masterchefs because they fried eggs during the lockdown and the yellows didn’t break) a fancy food processor to replace the Sumeet Mixie.

Oh, and LOTS AND LOTS of healthy stuff. How could you have a kitchen and pantry without turmeric and moringa?
No chia seeds?
No karela juice in the fridge? What WERE you thinking?!

And now that you’re a Masterchef, you need to be a Master-Kitchen-Cleaner.  (because you’ve NEVER seen a Masterchef episode with a less than sparkling kitchen). Go out as soon as the lockdown ends and buy the “17 things that make a kitchen sparkle” (wipes, liquids, sprays, etc.).

And for those who have ‘old’ kitchens, it’s time for a new one.
And of course you have to replace the crockery you broke during these testing times.
And the microwave-friendly dishes and boxes that you sent food to a friend in.

Lots of opportunities, marketers.

It doesn’t end.

Because some of us have also discovered that we aren’t quite Masterchefs.
However, we’d still like to FEEL that we are.

So sell us food that we THINK we’ve cooked (Ready To Serve and Ready To Cook). We’ve got a fancy new kitchen with new plates and cutlery and we know how to garnish a plate of baked beans.

MY soap, MY towel, MY pillow, MY bedsheet

There’s going to be a heightened awareness of the hygiene habits of all around you – and your own. In most Indian households with shared bathrooms and shared linen, it’s time to change. Each person will want his or her own soap and toothpaste and shampoo and towels and bedsheets and pillow covers and…

… You think I’m exaggerating? Watch how everyone at home reacts if you’ve just come in through the door and look a little sweaty.

And with this comes a heightened sense of general hygiene. Every house will have tissues and napkins and sanitisers in multiple places around the house for easy access.

Dettol liquid and Savlon liquid, I look forward to larger SKUs.

Have you had your chyavanprash today?

You haven’t? You idiot, it builds IMMUNITY.

The immunity market will grow exponentially. Anyone who can promise immunity (in truth or as a lie) will get a share of this market. Pharma companies, homoeopathy, Ayurveda, jari-buti, all of them.

Just tell me what I need to consume to reduce my chances of getting the next unexpected virus and you can take my wallet.

Lots and lots of coffee

“Can I have another coffee?’
“No, I’ll give you tea. We’re out of coffee.”
“WHAT? Out of coffee? Why didn’t you have enough in the house?”
“We had enough till I went shopping the next time under normal circumstances…”

That’s going to change. Because we will not take chances. It’s stupid to run out of Maggi, so buy two dozen packets. It’s stupid to run out of Tabasco, so buy six bottles.


Alcohol and cigarettes?
Let’s not even begin the discussion.

So we’ll stock MORE numbers of things that we THINK we could run out of.

Masks by Sabyasachi

You think I’m kidding?

Let’s face it, we’re going to be wearing masks for a long, long, time now. And if you are, you might as well make a statement.

Masks by Sabyasachi, coming soon at Rs. 5000.
You could also buy masks by Chumbak, at Rs. 99.

But you will buy one or the other or something in between, especially to coordinate with the clothes you wear or to suit an occasion.
Watch out for amazing mask style statements at the next wedding you attend.

Where will you shop?

Whether we like it or not, more and more shopping will happen on ecommerce platforms. It’s lovely to talk about how amazing the kirana dukan was during the first days of the lockdown, but the convenience (and the prices) force the habit change. eComm will figure out the logistics for the next black swan event on the basis of what they’ve learned during this one – and you will not need the kirana wala.

So that’s it for this dose. I’ve not left the house for this one. In my next episode, I’ll ruminate on the new workplace, new transportation and new travelling.

I can’t do it now, because I haven’t spoken to enough people to get a sense of it.

As I told you, this is a distillation of all my conversations with people that include you.

Stay safe.