What does Christmas look like in the middle of a global Pandemic and a rapid change of consumer lifestyle?
There is no way of sugar coating it, this Christmas is not going to be like any before it. COVID-19 has caused a worldwide Pandemic that has impacted us in more ways than we may yet truly understand. Along with the difficult medical consequences of a deadly virus, also comes the lifestyle disruption to just about everyone.
The food and beverage sectors have been on a roller coaster of a journey with the virus. From initial panic buying of everyday essentials, to the shutdown of the hospitality sector, to now facing a constant future of uncertainty. The food and beverage industry is influenced heavily on consumer habits and lifestyles which is ever changing and evolving. Many are forecasting that COVID-19 has caused technology and consumer habits to accelerate by over 5 years in a matter of months.
A recent poll by The Grocer showed 53% of respondents were worried for a second wave of COVID-19 and 20% worried about a cancelled Christmas – what should we really expect this Christmas?
Christmas Day to drive supermarket sales to record high
Christmas is traditionally a time when people of all ages in a family pack into households and squash as many as they can around a table – how does this look in the COVID-19 age? These gatherings are likely to be separated up into smaller individual gatherings, or maybe just with one household. This will crucially mean that more Christmas turkey will be needed, and not just turkey, more of everything.
If the current rule of six remains in place in the UK, food and beverage retail could potentially see one of its busiest ever years. Pack sizes will also need to be revaluated to target the smaller gatherings – 24 Christmas crackers, how about a new 4 pack? Bigger gatherings now being reduced into more smaller gatherings will encourage more repeat purchasing to restock the cupboards.
Customer behaviour this Christmas
Everyone knows this Christmas is going to set records for online shopping. With online shopping already being huge at Christmas, and now with its dramatic rise over the last year, it looks to truly dominate. Busy supermarkets and anxiety around COVID-19 will push millions to order their Christmas shop online. Now with discount stores like Aldi joining in the success of ordering online and click and collect – the retail stores look under more pressure than ever.
Due to this uptick in online selling, the retailers need to ensure they do it right. Shopping time will be reduced, with customers wanting to get in and out the shop as quickly as possible. Core ranges and big brands will look to dominate shelf space as customers look to make quick decisions on products they already know and love. The battle here will be for brands to ensure this does not impact their innovation and new product development. The balance of trust and excitement will be critical.
Could this be the earliest start to Christmas shopping? With threats of further lockdowns and the mad rush for a Christmas turkey could send customers rushing to shops earlier than planned. Retailers and brands will be aware of this and start promoting Christmas ranges even earlier.
In-home is the new out-of-home
At Christmas, the hospitality and out-of-home industries traditionally have their busiest times of the year. From busy office parties, to friends and family reuniting – these occasions help fill up the bars and restaurants over the Christmas period. This year the hospitality sector is going to have to be forward thinking and innovative to find ways they can engage with their usual customers within their homes. From interactive cocktail evenings, to fancy meals being delivered to your door – there are many options available.
If the hospitality sector doesn’t pick up on this trend, then the supermarkets will surely jump in to fill the void buy offering new ranges of products to help enhance in-home Christmas experiences. New flavours, textures and products will be filling up the shelves to help tap into customers’ desires for exciting experiences.
This Christmas presents many challenges for both the in-home and out-of-home sectors, but also both are presented with new opportunities. Brands will need a competitive core range and innovative and exciting products to keep consumers happy this Christmas.
Get in touch with our team to discuss your ranges and how a braver flavour can help your products stand out from the crowd.