I often wonder (as I’m sure many do) what lasting effects of the lockdown will be on consumers’ behaviour.
One of the key behavioural changes that Levercliff and others have reported on is how consumers eating and drinking behaviours have changed – some forced, others chosen.
I think it’s only possible to really understand how these behaviours will evolve over the medium and long term by discovering and monitoring underlying consumer feelings, needs, attitudes, and circumstances. For every observed behaviour there are a multitude of different drivers.
For example, if we take one behavioural change – cooking from scratch more – the potential drivers for this increase are numerous.
-Time - I have more time to do so
-Enjoyment – I’ve learnt/relearnt a new hobby that I enjoy
-Nurturing - I want to protect and nurture my family
-Mindful - As a creative activity it helps with feelings of anxiety
-Health - I/we are trying to eat more healthily
-Thrift - It’s cheaper to cook from scratch
-Shopping anxiety – I’m shopping less often so planning my meals
-Appreciation - I like to show off my culinary skills to friends & family (e.g. on social media)
As many people like me return to a more ‘normal’ pace of life, the daily commute, children returning to school, they may have less time to cook but the other feelings, needs and attitudes will not necessarily go away. How can categories evolve to fulfil these needs?
Some convenience food categories, such as ready meals have suffered as a result of the renaissance in scratch cooking. A change might mean a greater focus in ready meals on home style recipes (home fridge/store cupboard ingredients) or family targeted options. Or a renewed attempt to make the recipe kit format work in retail…perhaps less structured or lower priced.
For ingredients categories I can see a renewed focus on quick, easy and affordable, reminiscent of Jamie Oliver’s and Sainsbury’s Feed a Family for a Fiver campaign in the last recession.
I think there’s an opportunity for brands to remain relevant and gain deeper connections with their customers by being sensitive to needs and sentiments as they evolve.
A good example of a company quick to diversify to fulfil a need was a company local to me, Robert’s Bakery, launching a direct to door bread baking kit early in lockdown.
Again, to go back to the last recession, brands that did well tapped into prevailing needs at the time…an affordable treat (lipstick effect), an affordable weekend treat (the big night in).
However, with a new set of circumstances it may be different this time. Keeping close to what your customers are thinking and feeling is as important as ever.