From the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a huge shift in consumer behaviour with so many people working from home or remotely. It is likely that this change will have a long-term impact on people’s work habits and where they actually do their work. According to Statistics Canada, approximately 40% of Canadians are working remotely. We have all been on the zoom calls with children and pets in the background.
Some organizations are saying now they do not foresee any change to this in 2021 and even beyond, they will explore options. It is likely there will be a hybrid model where employees might work 2-3 days per week in an office or work environment and then the remainder of the week remotely. From people I have talked to, it is working right now because it has to but there are some challenges. It is difficult to introduce new people to a team or department and we are getting the work done but innovation and moving ahead can be a challenge.
In food and beverage, we know changes to consumer behaviour happen very quickly because people shop for food every week. If they are working from home there are a number of factors that are changing with regards to:
1) what they are eating,
2) when they are shopping,
3) how they are buying.
One of the biggest shifts in eating is breakfast. When people were running out to a work environment they were much more likely to stop at a quick service restaurant (QSR) for a muffin, breakfast sandwich or other breakfast food. Now they are working from home and they will make their own breakfast every day. They need ingredients, ideas and motivation to do this each day. We also see people eating lunch at home which could be left-overs from the night before or some meal prepared specifically for lunch. Snacking is also different for consumers when they are home and close to the cupboard.
If your product fits into any of these new or expanded meal occasions at home, remember to talk about it, share recipes and help consumers understand where your product fits. Don’t just assume they know what to do with it. They have been doing this for many months so they are looking for new ideas.
When people were going to an office or work environment there was more structure to their week. The busiest days in grocery stores were Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Now the shopping is spread out more during the week. People have flexibility and some employers do not mind them running out Tuesday afternoon, ‘as long as the work gets done’.
Consider the timing around your social media posts. You might want to consider different times during the week or even different times during the day. Consumers have a lot of messages coming at them so you want to be as effective as you can.
Working from home or remotely is also changing how we shop. Prior to the pandemic people might have stopped on the way home from work or planned a shopping trip to more regional shopping centres. Now the dollars are more likely to be spent closer to home or online. Working in front of their computer it is easy to just complete an online order.
Consider the best opportunities for your products might be in stores close to residential neighborhoods. These stores seem to be doing even better during the pandemic. You should also check your items on retailer’s websites to ensure they are set up properly.
All of these changes impact consumer’s shopping for food. With everything going on, we would always recommend you work to get on your consumer’s list. Keeping in mind the changes that come with working from home or remotely provides a much better chance of getting on that list.
We had a great webinar this week with Perennia about selling online. If you missed it you can watch the recording here:
On February 24th I will be presenting as part of the “Preparing for Retail Success” webinar series, join Perennia Food Scientist, Emily Page and I as we talk about “Pricing for Profit 3.0- Retail Sales"
At the end of March I will be moderating a panel of producers and industry experts on "Consumer Trends In Agriculture" as part of the Minister of Agriculture Digital Series.
If you have any questions about how to get your local products on the shelf or in the shopping cart you can always call me at (902) 489-2900 or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.