4 Post-pandemic Shopper Priorities

Apr 29, 2021

Over a year after the pandemic sent the world into lockdown, our collective lives have changed significantly. For retailers, that includes how you do business as you cater to your community and shoppers' evolving needs. With a year of shopper behavior studies under our belts, now's the time to evaluate what changes are here to stay, and how to adapt your business models to best serve your shoppers, stay competitive, and keep sales high.

The good news? Shopper priorities favor well-connected independent retailers, like IGA stores. A desire to shop small and local aligns with most independent grocers' offerings, and thanks to host of IGA's programs and resources—like national brand shopper offers, a robust eCommerce platform, and content and signage that highlight your local point of difference—IGA is well positioned to keep shoppers coming back.

Keep reading for a full breakdown of shopper priorities that will continue as the pandemic wanes. 

Priority: Local 

Perhaps one of the biggest trends that emerged as a result of the pandemic is a greater focus on community, with 49 percent of consumers saying they are buying from local businesses more than normal (Kantar U.S. Monitor Oct 2020). That means shoppers are ready to support their local independent grocer, provided the store meets their needs and new shopping habits. 

Capitalize on the local focus by highlighting your efforts to help the community and support local businesses:

  • Continue to offer fresh-from-the-farm options in addition to national brands, like many retailers did last spring to counter supply chain disruptions
  • Partner with a local businessesrestaurants, bakeries, floral providers, etc.—to further increase your offers, and promote those partnerships in your digital ad and on social media to let shoppers know that your store continues to support local
  • Use IGA's Local Equals Fresh messaging and signage throughout the store

IGA CEO John Ross stresses the importance of using messaging to highlight retailers' efforts in local partnerships. "Retailers who take the time to re-evaluate messaging in-store and in their advertising will sustain share," he says. "Shoppers loved knowing they were shopping a local family chain during COVID, so pulsing up messaging like 'local' and 'independent' will pay dividends for years."

Priority: Low Prices & Offers

While the last year has been good to grocery retailers, it has been economically difficult for many Americans, as the unemployment rate hit an unprecedented level—14.8 percent—unseen since data collection started in 1948. With at least 52 percent of shoppers saying low prices will continue to be a priority, and knowing there has been a 15 percent increase in households receiving SNAP benefits since the pandemic began (according to Nielsen data), retailers must not only make the most of their national and local offers but communicate those to shoppers where they’re spending time, like online.

National Digital Ad & Offers

IGA’s National Digital Ad already reaches shoppers in areas near IGA stores in the online spaces shoppers visit most—like weather apps and on their favorite websites—advertising the national offers that Red Oval partners like Coca-Cola, Unilever, Mondelez, Pirate’s Booty, Nestlé Purina, Hershey, and more are giving IGA shoppers. But retailers can reach even more shoppers by adding their local offers and content. "Engaging with the National Digital Ad 2.0 is probably the single most effective thing an IGA retailer can do right now,” says Ross. “By combining your local content with the national offers in the digital ad, you're going to see sales increases."

Beyond the National Digital Ad, retailers can promote shopper sweepstakes and offers on social media and in their email marketing to further ensure shoppers see the deals they’re seeking. Subscribe to IGA’s Weekly Checklist for the latest shopper sweepstakes and promotions, like this summer’s Pirate’s Booty sweepstakes.

Exclusive Brand

IGA's Exclusive Brand private label line offers superior quality at a low price. As the trusted brand of choice for IGA shoppers for nearly a century and with 69 percent of shoppers wanting their IGA store to have Exclusive Brand products, retailers can stock up on these products and create savings-friendly end caps to attract and retain budget shoppers. "Think about how you can package meal solutions and harness private label with CPG deals to make meal dollars to help families," Ross advises. 

For example, IGA retailers can use the Family Meals Made Easy campaign—which offers recipes that often use IGA Exclusive Brand products, recipe cards to share with shoppers, and signage to promote in store—to provide meal solutions and affordable yet exciting recipes that the whole family will love.

SNAP Online

And don't forget about those online SNAP shoppers. With the rise in SNAP beneficiaries and the increase in online shopping, retailers can help SNAP shoppers access these offers and low-cost products by ensuring their eCommerce platform accepts SNAP (for more information on accepting SNAP online, read this story and access NGA's SNAP Online Toolkit here)

Priority: Convenience

While many people shopped online for some goods before the pandemic, eCommerce became a necessity in 2020 and 90 percent of consumers plan to continue to buy food online once the pandemic is over, according to DigitalCommerce360. “Shoppers who go online tend to stay online, so independents really have no choice other than to get on eCommerce now,” says Ross. IGA has a unique program with Freshop that integrates original shopper content, but your wholesaler may have an offering you need to consider as well. Either way, Ross recommends retailers pick a vendor and get going now to avoid missing any more sales. "eCommerce shoppers are more likely to stay loyal to their grocer, less likely to deal-shop, more likely to expand baskets into meat and produce," he says.

For added convenience, IGA's Digital Ad offers everything shoppers need in one place. Shoppers can add items in the ad directly to their shopping list, and soon will be able to shop right from the ad if you're using IGA's eCommerce platform. Shoppers can also access meal solutions and recipes thanks to IGA.com content that is automatically loaded into the ad. 

Offering online shopping will get retailers started, but shoppers may want more. DigitalCommerce360’s research says that 68 percent of consumers have ordered groceries online for home delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means it’s time for retailers to consider their delivery options if they haven’t already. Ross agrees, saying, "This is a real opportunity for grocers to develop prepared food delivery models of their own. Said another way, once we are picking and delivering for shoppers, we can deliver anything. Why not pizza? Chinese? Sushi?"

Priority: Innovation

"Grocers who take this time to up their game in deli and prepared foods will reap long term share," says Ross. "A local grocery store’s prepared foods are the freshest sources of complete meals in the entire town." Ross recommends investing in new fresh menu options, building a sandwich program, and investing in creative talent. For example, a retailer could hire a chef, giving them freedom to build a local breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner solution for their community.

In addition, consumers who picked up cooking over the last year are interested in continuing their new skills. "An entire generation has rediscovered a love of cooking and the benefits: it's cheaper, it's healthier, and it's the best way to get your family around the dinner table together," Ross says, adding that retailers who invest in in-store demonstrations, recipe programs, cooking share groups, or other clever marketing will earn shopper share. Here's where IGA's Family Meals Made Easy campaign can help, as it provides retailers with an easy way to engage with shoppers through new recipes.

"Independent grocers and associates know their shoppers like no other business does. They just need to stay competitive to keep the shoppers they gained during the pandemic," says Ross. That means showing off their strengths, like local products and community involvement, and taking advantage of IGA programs like the National Digital Ad and eCommerce to compete with the national chains. By using those tools to cater to post-pandemic shopper desires, independents will be in good shape for the new normal. 

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