Last year was like no other (except for maybe the start of this one) and COVID-19 has completely transformed the way consumers shop and eat in and out of home. As we start to negotiate 2021 and another lockdown, we consider some of the factors which might continue to shape consumer shopping habits.
Safe, smooth access to the food you want has become a priority for most shoppers who are spending less and less time in physical stores. Availability is also something we no longer take for granted following the stockpiling and supply issues of 2020. Similar is expected again with Brexit likely to result in delays and possible shortages. Availability and ease of access will be viewed as a top focus for shoppers.
If people are shopping in store, research shows that 66% of UK adults consider safety as the most important reason for deciding where to shop. Shoppers are seeking stores to be as transactional as possible to enable them to enter and leave as quickly as possible.
FRIGHTENING FOOD STANDARDS
With news headlines stoking fears of an influx of chlorinated chicken and other food products produced to low animal welfare and food safety standards, as a result of potential new trade deals with countries from outside the EU, consumer support for British produce is likely to increase.
Waitrose recently reported that searches for British produce on its website rose 160% amid trade negotiations. While the ‘Waitrose’ shopper may not be representative of all UK shoppers, it’s a significant rise, especially given you might expect Waitrose shoppers to already be seeking out British produce.
PLANT-BASED TAKES ROOT
Plant-based living has been on the rise for a number of years, with the pandemic accelerating this trend by leading to an increased awareness around food health and sustainability. Driven by rising concerns around animal welfare and food standards, more people than ever have turned to plant-based food and drink.
Spurred by a wealth of research, documentaries such as What the health and those from David Attenborough, more and more consumers are aware of the impact the meat industry has on the environment and have reduced their intake. Plant-based meat brands like Meatless Farm, and many others, have developed a genuine foothold as more consumers look to cut down their meat intake whilst not having to sacrifice on enjoying the texture and taste. We expect that to continue.
SPICING UP STAYING IN
In the absence of being able to go out consumers have been seeking unique and more indulgent experiences they can have at home to spice up staying in. Many restaurants and supermarkets have created their own meal kits to bring the eating out experience into consumer’s kitchens. Brands like Pizza Express and Fever-Tree have also created food and drink masterclasses with zoom calls to show consumers how to best prepare their food and drinks at home. Research has revealed that 88% of retailers saw increased demand for in-home experiences, such as DIY meal kits, in an analysis of three months in 2020. We expect that this trend will continue to expand as consumers gear up to spend more time at home. We wouldn’t rule out being able to pick up your favourite restaurant meal kit from your local supermarket at some point in 2021.
Many consumers will continue to focus on following a healthier diet. This trend is likely to be spurred by concerns around Covid-19, reminding everyone of the importance of supporting a healthy immune system to better prepare for illness. An analysis on the impact of Covid-19 found over 50% of consumers are taking more supplements to support their immune health. We expect to see a rise in the launch of, and popularity of, products that support immune function. Purpose driven ingredients will most likely be at the forefront of the health and wellness trends.
 Facebook IQ source: “Consumer Behavioral Micro-Shifts Tracker by Kantar Profiles (Facebook-commissioned online survey of 4,340 online general population respondents ages 18+), Spain, UK, Italy, Germany, France only, May 5-Jun 15, 2020
 Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2021