The second part of an ongoing series of studies designed to analyze real-time and future consumer shopping and usage behaviors was released in July. Created by Cadent Consulting Group and Fetch Rewards, the latest report in the “CPG Clarity Study" shows a slow return to normalcy in the grocery and household essentials space.
According to the study, consumers are increasing their frequency of shopping trips and finding fewer empty shelves once at the store. Shoppers are expressing fears of an uncertain economic future, however, and report higher prices on the brands they prefer.
Consumers are expressing a better and more normal shopping experience since the first study was researched and compiled in June. While behaviors are not at all near pre-COVID levels, shoppers are visiting stores more frequently and purchasing less per visit. In April, shoppers were averaging just over five shopping trips every two-week period with an average receipt of $60. Based on data from mid-June, shoppers averaged more than six shopping trips every two weeks and their per trip expenditure fell to $51.The trend is positive, but still a far cry from a year ago when trips over two weeks were in the double digits and basket size hovered around $42.
The number of survey respondents reporting an inability to find their preferred brands is down 10 percent in recent weeks. This has resulted in less “scavenger shopping” and fewer instances of shoppers buying “whatever option is available” in a particular category. At the same time, however, 60% of shoppers reported frustration with higher prices.
“The acute concerns of the early COVID days have eased, with consumers adapting and becoming less fearful of visiting the grocery store,” said Ken Harris, managing partner of Cadent Consulting Group. “Brands are getting products back on the shelves and in the hands of their loyal customers, which is also a positive. But, it is clear that brands and retailers alike should be thinking about consumer price concerns and looking for ways to provide value. The slow return to normalcy will take months, not weeks.”
The study outlines how being home has positively impacted those surveyed, with most expressing positive feelings of spending more time with family. At the same time, respondents expressed anxiety surrounding their jobs and the overall economy. More than 20% of respondents had pessimistic views of their job status, 48% were pessimistic about the economy, and 30% said they planned to spend less than they did in past years.
“While it is good to see shoppers slowly return to pre-COVID habits, it’s clear that the pandemic continues to significantly impact consumer behavior,” said Wes Schroll, founder and CEO of Fetch Rewards. “With nearly two-thirds of shoppers expressing concern related to high prices, the industry must identify ways to deliver value and savings. This presents an opportunity for brands to build meaningful relationships with consumers as they navigate a new economic reality.”
More than 36% of respondents indicated that they plan to eat healthier than they did during the first phase of COVID-19. Especially buoyant is the refrigerated meat category with 54% of shoppers purchasing more protein, a likely result of people eating more meals at home. While the purchasing of salty snacks is still high, it has moderated in recent weeks. In March and April, this category was up roughly 15%. While the latest study shows consumers continue to purchase more salty snacks than they did pre-COVID, two-thirds are planning to return to their pre-COVID snacking behaviors. The shift away from salty snacks indicates that consumer intentions toward healthier eating are genuine.
Cadent Consulting Group has 25-plus years of experience bringing consulting leadership to consumer marketing, retail, supply chain, and sales. Fetch Rewards is a fast-growing consumer loyalty and shopper rewards app with nearly 8 million downloads total downloads and 3.2 million active users, The company has processed more than 377 million receipts and delivered nearly $61 million in savings since launching in 2017.