Melanie Nambiar
Melanie is Mintel's Southeast Asia Trends Analyst based in the Kuala Lumpur office, focusing on how intriguing innovations and thought-provoking regulations impact consumer behaviour in the region and vice versa.

COVID-19’s impact on the retail sector globally, including Thailand, has been profound. With consumers becoming more concerned about being exposed to the virus, retailers are implementing measures to reassure shoppers that their stores are clean and that their staff are well.

In a move to combat coronavirus transmission, Central Food Hall supermarket in Thailand are now using UV-C robots to sterilise their stores while they are closed. These robots are certified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and capable of destroying 99.99% of all pathogens within seconds.

UV-C light is considered to have no harmful effects on the food and products in the store and can be used in hospitals, factories, workplaces, hotels, schools, and other places that need effective disinfection, thus ensuring employee and customer safety.

Mintel Trend ‘Prepare for the Worst’ spotlights how consumers are seeking products and services that reassure them or make them feel prepared and protected against everything from large scale disasters to everyday annoyances.

Central Food Hall’s use of disinfection robots can help to create a safer environment for both employees and shoppers; this is particularly important at a time when concerns about hygiene are at an all-time high. Mintel research indicates that almost half of Thai consumers say that when it comes to cleaning their homes, creating a germ-free environment is very important to them. Brands that ensure consumer protection without requiring any additional input or action on their behalf will be key to appealing to those who are both safety and time conscious.

What we think

While health and hygiene have always been important, COVID-19 has compelled consumers to become a lot more vigilant about their own personal hygiene, as well as the cleanliness of their surroundings. This could accelerate the uptake of in-store contactless payment systems and the use of augmented reality by beauty, fashion, and even homeware retailers to allow consumers to visualise and test products without compromising safety.

It will become imperative for companies, especially retail outlets, to highlight how clean and hygienic their premises and products are, and this is likely to persist even after the pandemic has subsided.