Over the past few months, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on how we think and behave when it comes to food and beverage (F&B). When lockdowns were implemented in countries around the world, non-essential retailers were closed, dining-in was prohibited, and supply chains were tested. As a result, buying behaviors and attitudes have changed and F&B retailers are having to respond rapidly. Those that can act quickly will be able to emerge triumphant past the crisis, with many new strategies remaining relevant even after the pandemic.
As countries are opening, a common question among businesses is ‘what next?’ Governments around the world are trialing different measures to reopen the market while trying to minimize the likelihood of a second wave of mass infections. Businesses are on one hand rapidly trying to adapt to the latest governmental policies, and on the other, thinking about how they should change to cater to a marketplace that in some ways looks very different. We’ll explore 3 key trends, with our thoughts on what is likely to stay post-COVID when it comes to F&B:
Consumer behavioral changes
Unfulfilled consumer needs
‘Stay home projects’: behavioral and purchasing patterns arising out of having to eat at home
Short term changes
While purchases of luxury products have largely decreased during the pandemic, there was a sharp rise in everyday products. With the closure of physical stores, and restaurants doing takeaway only, more people embarked on different ‘stay home projects’, experimenting with homemade recipes.
According to social listening data from Circus Social, people in Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia ended up making more homemade snacks during this period. In China, the sale of egg whisks on online retailer Tmall increased five-fold year on year. In Singapore, essential baking ingredients such as yeast and baking soda were wiped off the shelves in most supermarkets during the first month of the Circuit Breaker, and many consumers looking for alternatives online. This shift has had a huge impact on supermarkets and grocery retailers, forcing them to look for alternative sources of supply and diversifying their supply chain strategy.
The surge in interest in ‘stay home projects’ has also led to a dramatic increase in the viewership of inspiration channels as well as recipe searches, with Instagram-worthy home café recipes trending on social media shortly after they were posted. This presented opportunities for brands to think about showcasing their products through strategic product placements on these channels. This may not be a novel strategy, but it has become highly relevant given the larger share of eyeballs on these channels during this period. In addition, we see F&B brands offering home cooking meal kits, riding on the wave of ‘stay home projects’ and engaging with partners to showcase the ease of using these meal kits online.
Long term trends
We believe that many of these trends will persist even after lockdown. More people, including newbies in the kitchen, have found a love for cooking and baking, while homecooked meals have also brought many families closer together. With the increased appreciation towards ‘home projects’, we are expecting more people to cook at home than in pre-COVID times.
Improving e-commerce channels and offline-to-online services will be also important to meet the needs of consumers in the future. F&B retailers will need to up their e-commerce game. While brick and mortar stores will remain relevant in the post-pandemic world, this period has shown the importance of having a strong e-commerce presence and robust supply chain. Consumers will become more used to shopping for groceries online, especially for products that they cannot typically find in brick-and-mortar stores. If F&B brands want to extend their reach to a wider audience through e-commerce, the time to do so is now. Source: Kadence International