3 ways COVID-19 could impact future consumer behavior

Consumer shopping habits and behavior changed dramatically in 2020 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Some trends accelerated, while others stagnated.

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Eldar Nurkovic | Bigstock.com
Eldar Nurkovic | Bigstock.com

Consumer shopping habits and behavior changed dramatically in 2020 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Some trends accelerated, while others stagnated.

“The pandemic exposed the food supply chain to consumers and it scared them,” Phil Lampert, Retail Dieticians Business Alliance, said during What's Ahead In 2021? “What we’re facing now in the supermarket is the wild west. We don’t know where we’re going quite yet.”

Robyn Carter, Jump Rope Innovation, and Bill Bishop, Brick Meets Click, also spoke during the webinar.

Holistic health and wellness

Prior to COVID-19, consumers had already started being more proactive about choosing foods with perceived health and wellness benefits.

“Where years ago, you might have seen that people addressing health and wellness by responding to being diagnosed with a condition and then adapting their diet and lifestyle to accommodate for that, what we see now is that consumers are really trying to get ahead of that to avoid becoming part of the health care system,” Carter explained.

The pandemic has accelerated the trend, helping consumers fulfill an emotional need and helping them deal with stress.

“I think the stress of the pandemic and fear around getting sick is driving the emotional piece as well,” she added.

New value equation

Consumers are feeling the effects of a COVID-19-caused recession and it is impacting where and how they spend their food dollars.

“Certainly, we’re all aware of the recession that we are now living through. Many consumers are grappling with this right now and will continue to grapple with as the pandemic continues, particularly in the service industry. Consumers are looking for products that demonstrate value – and by value, I don’t just mean the lowest priced product. There are lots of different ways that brands can offer value,” Carter said.

Consumers want to purchase products that are reliable and convenient and from brands that they trust.

Values-driven living

Most importantly, consumers are now looking for products that align with their personal values – which could relate to animal welfare, the environment or a variety of other social issues.

This highlights an increasing desire for transparency between consumers and the brands that they purchase.

“I think it’s really important that consumers see transparency from brands,” said Carter. “It’s not about perfection. I think brands often get caught up in thinking ‘if we don’t have things exactly perfect, we shouldn’t talk about it. But consumers are also on a journey to get better.”

View our continuing coverage of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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