2020 didn’t just have a dramatic impact on our social and work lives, but it changed how we grocery shop. As the pandemic descended, consumer grocery shopping behavior shifted by a factor of five years overnight: traffic to online grocery retailers increased 627% from January to May alone and today, 28% of weekly grocery shopping occurs online—up 17.5% from 2019 (MikMak). With cases on the rise and times as uncertain as ever, these major lifestyle shifts are poised to affect the holidays in some prominent ways.
The 2020 holiday season will be more intimate this year, as 16% fewer consumers plan to host meals and the median number of people at the table will be five (vs eight in 2019) (Profitero). Americans are also looking to save where they can, with 44% of consumers planning to spend less on gifts than in previous years. At the same time, however, consumers plan to continue to indulge: 64% of Americans report eating more throughout the pandemic due to stress (and 74% out of boredom) (Profitero).
While these shifts in consumer behavior during the holidays have without a doubt rocked the status quo, food and beverage brands can still adapt to win the holiday grocery shopping cart. Here are a few places to start:
- Inspire shopping—not just buying
Some of the most common consumer complaints about ecommerce experiences are the lack of creativity and overwhelming volume of options. In a world where 66% of consumers say inspiration is critical in their buying decisions (Pinterest), it’s up to brands to transform the monotonous, lifeless and transactional experience of scrolling through endless product pages into one that is enjoyable and focused.
- Identify consumer need states and build strategies that intersect
What is your core consumer’s mission during this holiday period? What are their wants, hopes and worries as they approach gifting, hosting, and celebrating during a time of elevated risk and caution? Understanding these need states is one of the most powerful ways in which brands can uncover opportunities to get in front of customers and inspire purchases.
- Bring great experiences home
Remember how 74% of people are eating more these days because of boredom? Kill two birds with one stone, as they say, by offering consumers activities and experiences they can engage with at home with your brand in the forefront. For example, at home cocktail kit sales are at an all-time high as people avoid bars but attempt to preserve social drinking experiences.
- Cozy up to brands in high demand
Throughout the pandemic, some categories have seen vast success and others have been hit quite hard. Creative bundling presents brands in less demand an opportunity to piggyback off the momentum of those that are thriving. This is also a way for brands to create consumer experiences at home, but beyond their own offerings.
- Communicate inventory
Since the beginning of the pandemic, product availability has been a major concern for shoppers. While many supply chains have recovered and improved, consumers are still wary of product shortages and shipping delays. Being open with customers—about both product availability and shortages—will improve their experience and help them plan ahead with your brand top-of-mind. If, and when, shortages do occur, offer consumers alternatives to protect your market share and preserve your brand’s spot in their shopping cart.
- Own your consumer data—and put it to work
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, be vigilant in tracking consumer data across your holiday ecommerce experiences. Understanding how consumers are engaging, what their shopping preferences are and where they drop off in the buying process will help brands avoid dried up funnels. Take it one step further by owning and working that data through remarketing and customization. This year’s explosion of grocery ecommerce has presented food and beverage brands with a unique opportunity to leverage the power of direct-to-consumer selling, which is all about the data and how you use it.
This holiday season will be like no other—just like everything else in 2020—but brands can help consumers stay merry and bright with their favorite bites and beverages at their side through crafting inspiring, safe shopping experiences.