ZEAL Creative reveals pandemic’s effects on shopper behaviour and how brands can meet new demands

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ZEAL Creative, the UK’s most effective brand activation agency, has launched a new strategic white paper exploring how the Coronavirus pandemic has affected UK grocery shoppers. 

‘Brand activation in the Age of COVID-19’ identifies how lockdown has already affected shopper behaviour and the impact it is having on food brands. The white paper also offers strategies for grocery brands to implement to meet shoppers’ needs in this new retail environment. 

Key findings from the report include:

  • Shopper decisions are influenced by completely new factors 
  • Value vs. indulgence – economic uncertainty means shoppers seek value for essentials but everyday treats and luxuries have replaced cinema trips and dining out 
  • When choosing which store to visit, range has become a key driver, alongside price
  • Grocery shopping is emotional therapy and the ‘value’ of food changes for shoppers

With limited availability already encouraging shoppers to try different products, brands have greater responsibility and are presented with more opportunities to engage new customers. As well as supporting shoppers, ZEAL explores how brands can convert consumers or drive existing customers to sample more products in the range and increase penetration. 

Highlights for brands:

  • Capture shoppers’ attention with clear product benefits that resonate with their current need states e.g. ‘Fresher for longer’, ‘Can be frozen’
  • The emergence of new, and the resurgence of traditional, consumption occasions can reinvigorate brands and drive incremental growth
  • Suspension of in-store POS and promotional media makes at-home engagement critical
  • Supporting citizens including key workers and food banks is prized, as sustainability becomes less of a priority for now
  • Recipe support and creative inspiration for new shared at home meal occasions is a prime opportunity
  • Every brand needs to think like a challenger and big brands can demonstrate true category captaincy

Callum Saunders, head of planning at ZEAL Creative, comments: “COVID-19 is the biggest challenge the grocery industry has faced since the Second World War. Our supermarkets have been thrust into the frontline and never before has there been more opportunity or responsibility for Britain’s grocery brands to step up and deliver for the nation. 

“Our findings demonstrate how shoppers are behaving and the role retail brands can play in meeting their needs. This is time for brands to step up with deeds not just words. Get this right and not only will brands be playing their part but will be remembered by customers long after the pandemic recedes.”