Research released today from Ensono, a leading hybrid IT service provider, shows that the coronavirus lockdown has caused most Brits to try different grocers, and that many consumers will continue to use these after lockdown. The survey of 2000 UK consumers by Ensono – which serves well-known brands in the food, grocery, and retail sectors in the UK – found that just over six in 10 (62%) have tried other grocers instead of their usual grocery provider during the pandemic.
While 45% confirmed they have tried another tier one or tier two grocery brand, from Tesco to Aldi, 50% had tried food shopping at businesses other than the big grocers. As a result of the increased demand for digital grocery shopping and retail experiences, nearly one in five (20%) report trying a digital alternative, like HelloFresh or Oddbox. This increases to one in four (24%) among the Gen Z age group.
Local greengrocers have also benefited from the formation of new shopping habits, with a quarter of consumers (23%) trying these since lockdown. Gen Z consumers have particularly increased their reliance on the local greengrocer, with 38% shopping at such vendors instead of their usual big grocer.
Ensono’s research indicates that many of these changes to shopping habits are long term. Exactly one quarter said that they would be sticking with their substitute grocer because it’s more convenient and flexible. This rises to 28% in the 35-44 age bracket. Twenty one per cent said they would continue to use their lockdown grocer because it’s cheaper. This rises to 26% in the under 44 age brackets. Three in 10 stated they will continue to shop with their alternative grocer for certain things, such as fresh produce.
Melanie Humphries, VP of client engagement, Ensono, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has clearly disrupted the choices that consumers are making in terms of where they shop, and these shifts in loyalties have the potential to be long term. To succeed in these conditions, grocers will need to focus on online – which is where the vast majority of market growth is – including mobile. Online is hugely important, not just for its own sake, but for grocers’ brick and mortar strategies too. Consumers browse and research products online, and increasingly use digital channels to support their ‘offline’ shopping.
“Since the outbreak of coronavirus, now more than ever, grocers must ensure they are delivering a favourable online experience that will keep shoppers coming back. From a technology perspective, much of this great experience will be shaped by public cloud, which affords an enhanced level of flexibility, agility, and business intelligence compared to more traditional hosting platforms. Significantly, public cloud enables grocers to personalise their online experience for shoppers. Consumers want to buy foods that are relevant to them without having to sort through a deluge of other options, and they want to buy quickly without friction. The use of modern, powerful, mainframe systems can also positively influence CX, serving grocers in areas like inventory management.”
Humphries added: “Across the industry, technology continues to be one of the most important factors for growing a customer-base and driving customer ‘stickiness’. In the current climate, for example, innovative use of tech has enabled small local retailers to personalise their offering and build their business through COVID in a similar way to the bigger players.”
Ensono’s previous research into grocery shopping during lockdown found that grocers should expect a permanent multi-billion-pound shift to grocery shopping online when the lockdown lifts. The study from May this year found that the percentage of shoppers doing at least half their grocery shopping online is due to increase from just under 20% (before coronavirus) to just over 30% (after), with the most significant changes to grocery shopping habits seen in the 35-44 age bracket. Almost four in 10 (39%) from this age group plan to do at least half of their grocery shopping online once coronavirus ends – an increase from just under a quarter before the outbreak.