In-Person Grocery Runs Continue to Decline COVID-19 Primary Research Series Part 3

In-Person Grocery Runs Continue to Decline

COVID-19 Primary Research Series Part 3

The COVID-19 outbreak continues to reshape consumers’ food purchasing behaviors, ranging from the products they’re buying to the places they’re shopping. Glanbia Nutritionals began charting consumer behaviors via surveys during the week of March 16, 2020. Now for week four of the research, the top finding of Glanbia Nutritionals’ consumer survey research is in: consumers are swapping their in-person grocery shopping for online grocery shopping. Take a look at the numbers and what this means for manufacturers.

In-Person Grocery Shopping Drops Again

Glanbia has been tracking the many recent changes in food purchasing behaviors through its regular weekly consumer surveys. Early on we saw a decline in restaurant visits and a rise in the purchase of packaged retail foods, with protein and energy bars standing out as go-to nutrition solutions. 

We also saw in-store grocery purchases decline from Week 1 to Week 2 but then level off in Week 3 at 77 percent. Now, in Week 4, in-store grocery purchasing has dipped again as only 72 percent of consumers reported visiting a store in-person for their grocery shopping.

COVID-19 Research Week 4 Results shopping

Online Grocery Shopping Rising Fast

Instead, many consumers are switching to purchasing their groceries online. Our survey showed that online grocery shopping penetration increased from 75 percent of the population (before the COVID-19 crisis) to 94 percent of the population. Nineteen percent of consumers who had originally never purchased groceries online now report at least some usage of online grocery shopping.

In addition, the percentage of consumers who often or always bought their groceries online has shot up from 24 percent (before the COVID-19 crisis) to 59 percent. Online grocery shopping has become the new normal for many consumers across the country as they seek to minimize their exposure to COVID-19. 

COVID-19 Research Week 4 Results chart

What This Shift Means for Manufacturers

While consumers and food retailers adjust their behaviors to cope with the current situation, food and beverage manufacturers are left to consider how these changes will affect their sales. For example, the shift to online grocery shopping means that a growing number of consumers are experiencing products in a very different way.

Since online shoppers won’t be browsing the store shelves, premium placement on store shelves is irrelevant. The way a product looks is still important, but it will be as an image on a grocery shopping app rather than the way it looks in person. Online grocery shopping also gives consumers the option to quickly filter products by features such as organic, gluten-free, and vegan.

COVID-19 Research Week 4 online grocery

Consumers deciding whether to buy a new product without first being able to see it in person may rely more on third-party certifications as an indicator of quality or safety. Consumers can also access product reviews from other consumers. In addition, product recommendations may be provided to shoppers based on what’s in their carts or what they’ve bought in the past. 

Keeping Up with Consumers

As manufacturers work to ensure supply chain stability during the COVID-19 crisis, staying on top of consumers’ changing food purchasing behaviors can be challenging. Glanbia Nutritionals is committed to closely tracking and reporting the trends affecting the food industry right now, so you can connect with your consumers—wherever they are.

For more insights on consumers’ changing attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors around food, contact Glanbia Nutritionals today.

Read Part 2 - Vitamin & Mineral Consumption is on the Rise During the COVID-19 Crisis.

Read Part 4 - Consumers Changing Brands as COVID-19 Impacts Supply Chain.