During the last three quarters of 2020, COVID-19 has upended life across the US. Its ripple effects on Retail businesses have varied enormously. For the Grocery sector1, work, school and social habits have produced big shifts in consumer behavior around food shopping and eating, seemingly overnight. As a result, Grocery revenues have surged, as consumers make their homes the center of all activity and retool ideas about household meal planning, shopping and preparation.
When luck is not a strategy
Now businesses in the sector face ‘a higher class of problem’—capitalizing on new consumer behaviors and building capabilities that will help them consolidate gains. Smart c-suites know there is a finite amount of time in which to act before consumer tastes change again, when at a still-unknown future point, social conditions inevitably return to something that more resembles pre-COVID-19 baselines. They’re watching the marketplace for meaningful signals, particularly data-based insight about the underlying drivers of channel preferences and brand loyalty.
We’re watching, too. To deepen our own understanding, KPMG went directly to consumers themselves and surveyed approximately 1,000 of them across the US at the end of October. We conducted our field research—and published this report—to address questions that include:
- indication of "stickiness" in the sharp growth in share of meals prepared and eaten at home, and corollary decreases in “food away from home” eating
- patterns in brand loyalty and experimentation, as consumers get reacquainted with iconic brands and grocery sector businesses bring new offerings to market
- any evidence of "COVID-19 fatigue" in grocery buying and eating behavior, as COVID-19 restrictions enter their eighth month, and consumer appetites for menu experimentation slow
- shifts in channel preference, as personal safety and redefined notions of “consumer experience” reshape buying through online, in-store or hybrid channels
- the continued resilience of holiday social traditions in the face of lockdowns, as demonstrated in stated menu and travel planning for the Winter holidays.
1 For the purposes of this report, KPMG defines the Grocery sector as comprised of all businesses that manufacture, distribute and sell food or beverage products.