This article is part of Raydiant’s Consumer Behavior series which interviews top industry experts to better understand the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on consumers, how businesses can adapt to these changes and how it will shape shopping experiences in the future.
The following is an interview we had with Raina Rusnak, Consumer Research and Insights Lead, Peapod Digital Labs.
How has consumer behavior evolved over the past 5 years?
RR: Over the past 5 years, grocery consumers have begun turning more toward an omni-channel shopping experience, rather than just brick and mortar. They engage digitally with brands, spend more time on apps, and place a high value on convenient products and services that save time. This challenges brands to provide time-saving solutions, offer an easy online shopping experience, and catch and hold consumers’ attention at a much quicker rate.
What are the biggest consumer behavioral changes you’re seeing due to COVID-19?
RR: Demand for eCommerce solutions has skyrocketed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From a grocery perspective, more consumers are using online ordering for delivery and pick-up services. Across all channels, we’re seeing increased support for health and hygiene measures such as hand sanitizer and wipes. Additionally, consumers are cooking more at home, planning their meals, and attempting to eat healthier. Product transparency is critical as we see a demand for traceability and product quality credentials. Placing renewed value on the importance of community and their local economies, consumers are also leaning into locally-sourced products from local businesses.
How can brick and mortar retailers adapt to these changes?
RR: Retailers pivoted fast to meet the changing consumer demands resulting from COVID-19. In short order, grocery stores put up plexiglass in high touch areas, eliminated self-serve areas like salad and soup bars, began pre-packaging deli and bakery products and offered easy access to hand sanitizer and wipes. In addition to remaining focused on health and safety protocols, retailers can adjust to the new realities by offering home meal solutions, providing access to nutritional guidance, and ramping up eCommerce bandwidth to meet the growing demand for delivery and pick-up. Staying in tune with how customers feel about their shopping experience is critical to exceeding expectations and maintaining loyalty and a trusted connection.
What behavior trends should retailers be focused on?
RR: Consumers are looking for value right now. Offering private labels, promotions, and coupons will help people feel good about their purchase. In addition to lower costs, saving time remains critical for busy households. Providing services, whether it’s through enhancements in the brand’s app or the ease of picking up an order where someone else has done the shopping, details that make things easy and save time for consumers go a long way. When retailers innovate and adapt to provide high-quality products at a low cost with high service, that’s a huge win for all parties.
What will the consumer shopper of the future look like?
RR: Consumers will continue to gravitate toward good service, speed, and convenience. But, more than that, they want to feel a sense of connection to the brand. Streamlining the shopping experience in a personalized way through increased use of apps with value-added services, efficient order fulfillment, and contactless pay options will all be key to the future of shopping. Leveraging in-store interfaces to aid with things like mobile wayfinding and self-checkout will help simplify the shopping experience. Additionally, consumer demand for sustainable and ethically-sourced products and practices will likely continue to grow.