Long-term shopping habits have changed, and that includes the way people buy their groceries. In order to connect with consumers in a digitally driven world, food service brands need to rethink how they perceive the entire customer journey.
Since the start of the pandemic, the grocery landscape has changed dramatically. Today’s food buyers are now motivated to shop in new ways: to shop responsibly, locally and more efficiently. This shift in consumer behavior is pushing established grocery brands to innovate, while ushering in an influx of food delivery technologies and services.
More and more, consumers are finding meal ideas on Facebook. “When culinary fatigue sets in, even the most adventurous home chefs need culinary inspiration,” says Katy Clark, UK Grocery Manager at Facebook. “And, as the world’s largest discovery engine, people come to Facebook and Instagram to discover new products, recipes and food options. “
The grocery store has evolved rapidly. Food buyers today are inspired in new ways and buy their products through different channels. But the basics of marketing haven’t changed. Amidst disruption and digital acceleration, grocery shopping remains a foundational category, combining technological advancements and community service.
At Facebook’s recent EMEA Future Proofing Food Services event, we explored how new trends have impacted consumer behavior, how grocery brands could inspire customers and maximize the current opportunity by focusing on 3 key pillars: community, ease and joy.
The past 18 months have brought about a sea change in the way we plan, receive and consume our meals. At the onset of the pandemic, necessity drove consumer behavior: lining up in supermarkets or trying to secure home delivery slots. During the lockdown, nostalgia-driven home baking and elaborate dining experiences gave way to kitchen fatigue.
Throughout the disruption, the grocery industry has acted as an anchor in our communities. “The community has been at the forefront of everything that has happened over the past 18 months,” said Nick Ashley, head of media and campaign planning at Tesco. “We felt we had to act as a public service. Our message was in tune with the sentiment of the nation. “
As part of essential retail, supermarkets have become a lifeline for communities, including their increased support to the most vulnerable through donations from food banks. It helped bring to light what we buy in, not just where we buy from. And, more and more, buyers choose brands based on their opinions and values. According to KPMG, 9 in 10 consumers are willing to pay more for an ethical retailer or brand that gives back to society.
Therefore, representing consumers in brand advertising and decision making has arguably never been more crucial. “It’s important to feel that something is relevant to you – it has a huge impact on how you react to a brand,” says Hannah Walley, of consulting firm Kantar.
Disrupted shopping habits mean that the way we buy our meals has changed. Today, consumers can mix and match distribution channels, fueled by a combination of supermarket, take-out, and on-demand home delivery services.
At the same time, digital acceleration and expanding competition are reinventing convenience. Now it can happen in a matter of minutes. “When you want or want something, the fact that we can deliver it to you in about 10 minutes is very, very valuable,” says Turancan Salur, UK managing director of on-demand grocery delivery startup Getir. “We focus on the convenience of service; it is more valuable than the product.
Disruptors and established brands thrive in innovative areas where they can generate opportunities on demand. In fact, according to Retail Weekly, global rapid trade is expected to be valued at £ 160 billion by 2025. It shows that convenience remains key to knowing where and how people choose to shop. In a study of 5,000 shoppers in the EMEA region, convenience or proximity to home was the main factor in someone choosing one supermarket over another.
From the warm smell of freshly baked bread to the satisfying crunch of an apple bite, our relationship with food is emotional. While in lockdown, during a time of stress and anxiety, food brought us joy: almost half (48%) of the top brands in 2020 were food and drink.
Stimulating this emotion helps generate sales: more than twice as many food and drink purchases are spontaneous (68%) rather than planned (32%). Emotion is at the heart of what Getir and other grocery retailers offer. “Spontaneity and joy are an integral part of our marketing,” says Salur. ” Do you want an ice cream ? Well, you can get some ice cream now. This spontaneity is very powerful and brings value to consumers.
Digital is now the primary means by which grocers around the world discover brands and products, with 71% of them doing so online. And it is the discovery that stimulates the spontaneity of shopping, from “go” shopping to “always” shopping; from an intention-based shopping experience to a discovery mindset. And Facebook’s platforms can be optimized for spontaneous behavior: brands can remove friction, use purchasable formats, and be viewed and bought in five clicks or less.
Rearrange the store around you
From the way people discover products to the way they buy them, there are no quick fixes for grocery brands. For example, Ashley explains that a cohort of customers have started shopping again at one store, all in one place. This is a sentiment shared by Salur: “The same consumer uses different channels to shop. It’s not exclusive, people want options.
According to research from Kantar and the University of Oxford, there isn’t a single campaign structure that leads to dominant performance in brand results. On the contrary, a varied media mix – containing several points of contact – best helps to strengthen the brand. “Most of the brands we see could be more effective if they played with the media channels, tested and learned, and made sure they weren’t too reliant on one or two channels,” Walley says.
Facebook advertising solutions can also be reused. For example, a discount supermarket chain Lidl used Facebook Instant Experience to digitize printed flyers, which resulted in a 10-fold return on ad spend and a 2.3% increase in overall sales at trial stores in Ireland. Dynamic ads could be used for healthy food market, adding nutritional information or service suggestion. Branded content means food companies can partner with a creator, leverage their community and trusted voice to authentically show off the brand during home cooking sessions.
It is by preparing for the future through community, ease and joy that grocery brands can maximize growth opportunities and reach new audiences. “Reorganizing the store around you means being there for the consumer,” says Zehra Chatoo, strategic planning partner at Facebook. “It stimulates that sense of community, removes friction, and then injects creativity and excitement for spontaneous purchases. “