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Shopper behaviour and the changing way we buy our groceries


When I was six, I was convinced that there would be colonies on the moon by 2020. I think I’d seen The Jetsons on TV, and this had captured my (over-active) imagination. There would be hover cars, and we would only need to eat a pill for our lunch to feel full. As 2019 breaks, what have we got-  Twitter and Reality TV. I’ll level with you, if I were to go back in time, and explain this to my six year-old self, I would be thoroughly disappointed. The reality is that many of the day to day parts of our lives are the same or similar to what our parents did. Most of us go somewhere to work. All of us will be using a mode of transport that was around 50 years ago (The James Bond back pack seems to be definitely getting closer though) and yet, whilst it may not feel like it, we are going through some of the biggest changes in the food and drink industry that will impact us in the coming years, and will be around for decades to come.

I get asked about the rise of Aldi and Lidl, yet memories are short – in 1993 Kwik Save had a 10% share of the British grocery market. The difference is who goes in to these stores, and the motivation for doing so. ‘Discounters’ have always been around, it’s just the marketing that was traditionally a no frills approach has now changed so Aldi and Lidl appeal to a far wider set of customers.

Health means different things to different people, and health messaging has changed dramatically over the years. In the ‘90s, TV adverts for healthy breakfast cereal followed a familiar pattern. An athletic slim female, generally not wearing very much, straightening her hair with one hand or conducting an orchestra or something and eating a bowl of healthy cereal in the other.  For a start this is physically impossible: she’s not sitting at a table she’s on her bed and we all know what happens when you spill even the smallest amount of milk on the carpet or furniture. However, I digress. The point being that the days of unrealistic images within adverts are now thankfully declining. Health is less about losing weight and/or diet, and more about lifestyle change (Veganuary and Free From)as well as being happier and healthier, which has to be a good thing. Health is here to stay, so if your portfolio isn’t as balanced as it could be, I would encourage you to be looking at how you can restore this balance.

If 2018 was about plastic, then 2019 and the foreseeable future is all about responsibility. It could be to do with education around foods and meals that are better for you, how to consume less sugar, how to lessen your carbon, or plastic footprint. Responsibility lies with us all – retailers, manufacturers and consumers. The reality is that the habits picked up by our children are more likely to be carried through into adult lives.

Finally, the thing that we all have far less of than 20 years ago is time. Yet very few products or retailers talk to me in this language. Internet shopping looked like it was going to solve all our time related issues, and yet has it...? Whilst over 75% of us have an internet-enabled device, only 30% buy our groceries online. The reality is that it is (in market research terms) a faff for many. Until technology makes our ordering easier for example ‘Siri, order me the ingredients to make a chilli with rice on Friday night’, then it feels like there will be still be growth for this channel, but at a slower pace. Voice-controlled ordering will certainly happen, it just depends on how scalable it is.

So, to understand what’s going on within grocery, and how the retail landscape looks, and the sharing of some other things I thought I would happen when I was six, join me on Wednesday March 20th at TasteWales.

Chris Hayward - Kantar Worldpanel 

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