How IGA Retailers Can Serve Shoppers Emerging from the Pandemic

Jun 2, 2021

Coming out of Memorial Day weekend—the first holiday with over 50 percent of the U.S. population vaccinated against COVID-19—Americans are seeing what a return to pre-pandemic activities can look and feel like, with people across the country flocking to BBQs, beach parties, and traveling to visit friends and family.

What does a return to normal mean for grocery sales? Recent research from the Food Industry Association's (FMI) 2021 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report reveals a golden opportunity for retailers to continue to capture increased shopper dollars, providing they're capitalizing on shopper behavior trends that emerged from the pandemic. 

“Throughout this past year, American grocery consumers have developed a deeper relationship with their kitchens, increased their healthy eating consciousness, and have learned new ways to shop,” FMI President and CEO Leslie Sarasin says. “We see shoppers engaging in more stock-up trips to support their at-home cooking, exercising new online shopping skills, and letting their personal concept of being well impact their food and shopping behaviors. Looking ahead, we expect many of these trends to continue.”  

Keep reading to explore the biggest trends in grocery shopping and find which IGA resources and programs can support retailers in their efforts to cater to these trends and capture shopper dollars.

Trend 1: At-home Meals Continue

According to FMI's report, which partnered with the Hartman Group to track the grocery shopping habits of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers from February 16-24, Americans have gotten used to cooking at home. FMI’s survey found that 58 percent of shoppers report eating more at home today. And while there is certainly cooking and recipe fatigue, they plan to continue doing it, with 41 percent of shoppers indicating they expect they will prepare more meals at home than they did before the pandemic. FMI said in its report that shoppers' enhanced flexibility to work from home supports this, as well as improved cooking skills obtained through cooking more during the pandemic and a desire to keep the benefits of family meals. 

"Many [consumers] rediscovered the power of food to strengthen the bonds within their immediate households," the report says, with 34 percent of consumers saying that eating together as a household is extremely important (a six point jump from the previous year). 

Not only are Americans planning to continue cooking at home, they're holding on to their meal planning habit, which developed out of necessity due to fewer store trips during the beginning and height of the pandemic. According to the report, a growing number of consumers are planning several days of meals at once, managing fresh ingredients so they can reuse them across several meals. And while the meal planning trend might result in fewer trips to the store, the report says it could also mean bigger baskets and a net effect of a bigger grocery spend for retailers who support shoppers' meal planning efforts. 

IGA Resources: Recipe Club & Family Meals Made Easy!

Now that shoppers are used to planning meals ahead, IGA retailers can cater to this need by offering meal solutions via IGA's Recipe Club. Already featured in IGA's National Digital Ad, these recipes can also be promoted on a store's social media account, along with a meal planning tip. For example, the current featured recipe is southwest turkey burgers, with ground turkey breast, zucchini, jalapeño, onion, and bell peppers. Retailers can encourage shoppers to double up on many of those ingredients to use for burritos, tacos, or enchiladas later in the week, cooking the vegetables once and using them in multiple recipes.

Want to double down on meal solutions? Build an end cap display for the Recipe Club recipes using the Family Meals Made Easy! campaign display. The displays make it easy for retailers to set up an end cap (the POP display kit comes with a hanging sign, stanchion sign, recipe cards, rail strips, and an aisle blade) dedicated to meal solutions, complete with recipe ingredients and the recipe card itself, which retailers can switch out regularly (IGA publishes new recipes every two weeks) complete with IGA Exclusive Brand or other ingredients.

Family Meals Made Easy! end cap display featuring IGA Exclusive Brand and Coca-Cola products, with recipe cards.

Learn More About  Family meals Made Easy!

Trend 2: Online Grocery Shopping Stays Strong

Online grocery shopping has become commonplace, with the number of online shoppers growing to nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of all U.S. adults, including newcomers from every generation (and it's especially popular among Millennials and Boomers). In addition, the frequency of online grocery shopping has increased, with 29 percent of online shoppers placing a weekly order, according to the report. 

64 percent of all U.S. adults are shopping online for groceries."

Retailers can expect online shoppers to continue using this convenient service as their lives pick back up. From busy families resuming weekend sports and activities to employees returning to the office and therefore short on in-person shopping time, consumers have converted to this must-have convenience. 

IGA Resource: Groceries Online eCommerce

Luckily, IGA retailers have plenty of resources to either start their eCommerce platforms or improve their offering. IGA has partnered with Freshop, a trusted Red Oval partner and leader in grocery eCommerce, to offer an easy solution for retailers to get their stores online. With a responsive design (good for mobile, tablet, or desktop) that is customizable to your store, the program includes an interactive circular that allows customers to shop directly from the store's weekly digital ad, as well as full integration of IGA's National Digital Ad. Plus:

  • Easy use of digital coupons, loyalty program, and SNAP online integration
  • Platform can accommodate click & collect, delivery, and direct-to-home shipping
  • Intuitive technology that makes back-end site management simple


Retailers can also speak with their wholesaler about the eCommerce options available through them. However retailers choose to get online, Ross encourages them to do so now to capture share and avoid losing shoppers to a competitor offering online shopping. "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.

Learn More About  Groceries Online

Trend 3: Healthy Eating Surges

"Consumers continue to learn that cooking well is the path to eating well," according to the report, with nearly half of consumers  (49 percent) cooking more than pre-pandemic and 70 percent saying they have improved their cooking skills. "These numbers reflect more than just an appreciation for the act of cooking. They also speak to a deepening of the connections between cooking and notions of eating well—pleasure, health, and convenience."

During the pandemic, people started eating better to improve their health after the initial comfort-feeding period. And those who didn't are ready to eat better now, according to the report. After a year of building trust with shoppers through cleanliness and safety precautions, grocers can continue nurturing their relationship with shoppers, encourage lasting shopper loyalty, and inspire more visits by providing an in-store experience that helps shoppers discover and connect with food and people, the report says. 

IGA Resource: Local Equals Fresh

"There's no better way to help shoppers connect with the food they eat than telling the story of the farmer who grows it," Ross says of IGA's Local Equals Fresh visual merchandising, which can be customized with photos and information about the family farms that supply local produce to IGA stores.  

The Local Equals Fresh Visual Merchandising Kit makes it easy to remind shoppers that, by shopping at IGA, they are buying local, eating fresh, healthy food, and supporting their community. Even in center store, which isn't traditionally known as the healthiest area, shelf tags give retailers an opportunity to highlight local health products, like honey, nuts, popcorns, and more. 


The messaging and visuals weave through various departments and at different levels, from the shelf to the aisle and overhead, highlighting the many ways IGA delivers local, fresh, offerings while reinforcing the store's commitment to quality, service, and value.

See More Local Equals Fresh Signage

The pandemic highlighted shopper behavior trends that were already forming—online shopping, a desire for more convenience, and healthier meals via at-home cooking—and FMI's U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends data suggests that those key trends are here to stay, even as we emerge from the pandemic. IGA retailers spent the last 15 months establishing themselves as allies in staying healthy and safe, so by leveraging IGA's resources, like the meal solutions campaign, eCommerce program, and signage, they're in a strong position to retain existing shoppers and attract new ones searching for a store catering to their new behaviors and needs.

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