12 ways the coronavirus is impacting consumer behavior
FMCG Gurus releases insights into how the food and beverage industry can navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consumers are looking to create moments of indulgence at home, order more groceries online, and buy more healthy products amid the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s according to new insights from FMCG Gurus, a market research company, which recently shared a list of 12 ways companies can address COVID-19 in 2020 and beyond.
Below is a look at the 12 insights, and how companies can address them. For more information on these insights and consumer behavior research, contact FMCG Gurus at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for more insights into how shoppers are responding to the coronavirus, you can also watch Candy Industry’s free webinar, “Seasonal Candy in the time of COVID-19” It features a presentation from Michael Hughes, Director of Insights at FMCG Gurus, and can be viewed OnDemand on our website.
1. Home Experience: Consumers will look to replicate moments of indulgence within their own home
Irrespective of any concerns that consumers have about their financial well being amidst a time of economic uncertainty, they will still be unwilling to compromise on moments of indulgence. Given that food service consumption occasions continue to become more common across the globe due to high levels of self-entitlement, this is something that consumers will be especially reluctant to compromise on. However such occasions will be impacted to some extent by consumers firstly having restriction on movements and then secondly, lower levels of disposable income.
As a result of this, consumers will look to replicate food service and out-of-home experiences in the comfort of their own home more regularly.
2. Tech Future: Consumers will want technology to help personalize their nutritional needs
In the long-term, the COVID-19 virus will result in consumers evaluating their health and wanting to ensure that they maximize their well being in order to reduce the threat of illness and disease. Rather than just being an aspirational view, consumers will look for ways to help do this.
At the same time, consumers will recognize that they do not feel fully informed about their nutritional intake or what constitutes a truly balanced and healthy diet. As with many things in their modern life, they will turn to technology to help facilitate this and ensure it is done with minimal effort. This is something that will drive demand for technical innovations around personal nutrition and ensuring that consumers are at the peak of their health at all times.
3. Maximum Convenience: Consumers will look to take advantage of online delivery services
As consumers have looked to minimize the risk of exposure to coronavirus, they have looked to take advantage of online delivery systems within the retail market. Whilst online channels are more developed in some countries than others when it comes to food and drink retail, the surge in demand has resulted in many retailers currently struggling to meet demand.
At the same time, the food service channel has also benefited from people using delivery systems because they do not want to compromise on moments of treating and indulgence. As consumers become more risk adverse, this is something that could have profound implications for retailers who do not offer online services.
4. Appreciation: Consumers are re-prioritizing what is important, and this will be reflected in their choice of brand
The implications of COVID-19 and restrictions on movement is something that has not been witnessed for generations. As such something once took for granted – such as being able to get essential food and drink products at retailers – is now seen as something of a luxury, or at least something that consumers feel grateful for.
Linked to this, consumers are looking to step back from the daily negative news and re-prioritize what is important to them, exacerbated by issues such as not being able to see family and loved ones. As a result of this, consumers are becoming more appreciative of things that previously less consideration was given to, wanting brands that reflect this new outlook on life and that help maximize personal connections once restrictions on movement are loosened.
5. Heritage: Risk avoidance means that consumers will want more reassurance than ever before
Increased levels of price sensitivity is something that can have an impact on willingness to shop around for alternative products. This is because consumers may prioritize sticking to products that they know and trust because they carry less risk. Indeed in times of less financial uncertainty, consumers can have favorable perceptions of new and innovative products because they can feel such products meet their need states better. Whilst consumers will not be totally opposed to sampling new brands, they will be more influenced by the trade off between experimentation, cost and risk avoidance. As such, irrespective of whether a brand is new or well established, it needs to use heritage, authenticity and story-based marketing effectively to offer reassurance around quality, safety and value.
6. Back to Basics: Simplification and risk avoidance will be key for consumers, directly shaping eating and drinking habits
In periods of uncertainty, consumers will look for ways to try and get more control of their life. In addition they also become more risk averse, prioritizing what they know and trust. This is because whilst consumers have favorable perceptions towards new and exotic products from retail and foodservice aisles, they can often associate such products with being more expensive and that there is no guarantee that they will like such products.
As such, consumers will adopt a back to basic approach, turning to products that they associate with comfort and escapism. In addition, consumers will also put greater emphasis on scratch cooking, associating this with being healthier and wholesome and safe.
7. Global to Local: Consumers will want shortened supply chains and maximum transparency
During and after the impact of COVID-19, consumers will be paying close attention to the supply chains of the products that they purchase. This is because consumers may be conscious about purchasing products from certain countries.
They may also want reduced supply chains for greater quality control measures and because they feel it reduces the risk of products being exposed to germs, bacteria and other forms of contamination. In addition to this and in a recessionary environment, consumers will also want brands to be demonstrating support to local and small-scale suppliers to whom they associate with being healthier, safer and better quality. When it comes to such practices around locality, transparency around supply chains will be crucial.
8. Define value: Consumers want reassurance that they are getting maximum value for money
Reduced confidence means that spending habits will be monitored more closely than ever before by consumers, with a greater willingness to adjust shopping habits to make money go further.
This means that consumers will want reassurance that products offer maximum value for money. It must be noted that even in a recessionary environment, consumers are still willing to trade-up on products they believe offer value added. As such, it is important not to automatically associate price sensitivity/value consciousness with consumers simply wanting the cheapest prices possible. Instead, justification of price is something that is far more important for consumers so that they can make an informed decision when purchasing.
9. Green and Clean: Consumers will want brands to help the earth heal itself
Consumers already had a high level of concern about the state of the environment due to the impact of globalization before the previous COVID-19 pandemic. However, one of the few positive news stories to emerge during the outbreak is how the restriction of movement and reduced levels of business activity has resulted in the improvement of natural resources such as air and water. This is something that will result in more consumers believing that damage done to the environment is reversible.
In turn, it will also result in consumers looking to adopt more ethical and sustainable lifestyles and wanting products and brands that demonstrate similar levels of commitment to the environment.
10. Healthier for Longer: Consumers will want products that help stave off the threat of disease and illness later in life
The desire to stay fit and active until as late in life as possible is something that will be intensified in the aftermath of COVID-19. This is something that will be linked to consumers recognizing that poor immune systems are something that increase the risk of disease and illness, especially in later life.
As a result of this, consumers of all ages will take a more proactive approach to their long-term health, something that will directly shape their consumption habits. Indeed, consumers will continue to take a greater interest in functional ingredients that offer a health boost beyond basic nutrition, especially those products that they associate with having antibiotic properties. Consumers will want such ingredients in supplements and everyday food and drink products.
11. Holistic Health: Consumers will become more attentive to all aspects of their health
One implication that has arisen COVID-19 is the impact that the pandemic has had on mental health as well as physical health. This is something that has been brought about by continued uncertainty around the spread of the virus, constant negative press stories and in addition, the implications of isolation and restriction on movement.
As a result of this, consumers will continue to pay more attention to all aspects of their health, recognizing that all aspects of health are interlinked. As such, these consumers will also pay more attention to their mental health as well as physical health. Additionally, consumers will also look to evaluate their personal hygiene habits in order to minimize the risk of illness.
12. Risk avoidance: Pessimistic consumers want to eliminate risk from all aspects of their life
In times of uncertainty, comfort and reassurance is something that is important to consumers, and something that brands should help to facilitate. This is because consumers do not want to engage in any unnecessary risks and activities that could compromise their health or finances.
As such, brands need to look for ways to offer reassurance, be it through leveraging perceptions of value and transparency, to offering consumers a convenient way to boost health to addressing wider issues like delivery systems and the impact they have on the environment. Providing comfort is something that will be key, and brands need to be seen to be taking the best interests of the consumer into account.