As we’re nearing the one-year mark of the pandemic, we can see how its effects have significantly changed consumer shopping and cooking behaviors. It’s possible that when the pandemic subsides, many of these new behaviors may become the norm. It’s important for manufacturers to be aware of these fast-moving trends and adapt quickly to take advantage of changing sales and promotional opportunities.
Below are some notable trends for you to ponder and consider how they may relate to your products:
- Cooking from scratch or using meal kits have become routine over the past eleven months. Once the pandemic wanes, will consumers become tired of cooking and move to more prepared meals or will they continue to embrace their current routine?
- Baking has seen a significant rise (no pun intended) since the beginning of the pandemic. Will this become a mainstay as people have found pleasure in baking and having these “comfort foods” around?
- Many children have learned to cook and bake during the pandemic. What does this hold for future grocery sales? Will this trend continue and create a new base of at-home-cooks in the future? How can you capitalize on this?
- Once restaurants reopen for near-capacity indoor dining, will there become a large jump in consumers eating in restaurants, resulting in decreased at-home food preparation? If so, will that be reflected in grocery sales? On the other hand, will consumers take a “go slow” approach to returning to restaurants and will supermarket sales continue to remain high? How can you plan for these pivots and the impact on your marketing and sales opportunities? How does this impact your supply chain and inventory build-up?
- Countless foodservice outlets including restaurants, school cafeterias, college dining facilities and office building food systems have been shuttered since March 2020. To stay afloat, many savvy foodservice manufacturers have been repackaging their products as retail items. They aren’t building inventories of foodservice items but are producing them to order. Are any of these new products affecting the sales of your products? What can you do about them?
- Sales of freezers and refrigerators for the home have been booming. Consumers have been purchasing larger ones or adding a second to other parts of their house to accommodate their new needs, indicating that they are settling in to continue cooking at home for the foreseeable future. Does this mean that they don’t anticipate eating out as often by having more storage capacity or are families merely looking for a short-term storage solution?
Which of these trends resonate with your business? The structure of the grocery business has changed dramatically in the last year and indications are that it will continue to evolve. Anticipating a variety of options for your business now will give you flexibility in the way you position or promote your products in the years to come.
CHANGES TO CURRENT PRODUCT PROMOTION METHODS
The pandemic has resulted in the growth of grocery pick-up and delivery. This will keep some shoppers out of supermarkets in the future as a portion of them have indicated they will continue with this way of shopping after the pandemic ends. It’s important to understand how these “remote consumers” will learn about your product. Even if you didn’t do a lot of advertising in the past, consumers were able to “see” your product on the store shelf when shopping in-store.
Some developing trends will affect how consumers gather information about new products and remind them of existing products.With the demise of home-delivered newspapers and the reduced subscription base for hard copies, what will happen to FSIs? Once a key ingredient to the advertising mix for food items, these may disappear. If you relied on these in the past, digital advertising may be your best bet to advertise and promote your products.
The same is true of some individual chain rotos. For example, CVS is now moving away from their in-paper flyer to an online distribution. This roto dropped in the January 17, 2021 San Diego Union Tribune:
Another example is new in-store sampling and promotions. My wife and I shop at Walmart. With some orders, we have received a small, Walmart branded tote bag with trial-size samples and coupons. See below for some of the items in one bag:
As the repercussions of COVID-19 have affected everyone, from a business standpoint they have also changed the shopping and promotion behavior in the selling, buying and consumer usage of products. These changes have and will continue to have significant effects on how you sell and promote your brands. Now is the time to reassess your current approaches and determine how best to direct your resources to take advantage of the new market trends.
To discuss overstock or problem products you want to sell, contact Dick Lansing at
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