consumers changing brands covid-19

Consumers Changing Brands as COVID-19 Impacts Supply Chain

COVID-19 Primary Research Series Part 4

Glanbia Nutritionals' consumer research continues to track how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting the food supply chain. Week 8 results of our survey reveal that some consumers are substituting their preferred brands for different brands due to a lack of availability, while others are changing stores to remain brand-loyal. Also up ahead: signs that the food supply chain is beginning to recover.

How Consumers are Responding to Out-of-Stock Products

Through ongoing surveys to understand consumer behavior changes around food in response to COVID-19, Glanbia has monitored trends such as the emerging preference for shelf-stable and bulk-packaged foods, the rise in online grocery shopping, and the increasing consumption of certain products such as protein and energy bars.

In Week 8 of our consumer survey research, we gained insights into how many consumers are still unable to find all of their preferred food and beverage products at the store and how they’ve been responding. Our results indicated that most consumers (66%) are currently able to find everything they need at the store they regularly visit. However, that leaves more than a third still struggling to complete their grocery shopping. 

We learned that consumers responded to out-of-stock items in the following ways:

  • Substituting their preferred brand with a different brand (16%)
  • Visiting a different store to buy their preferred brand (10%)
  • Going without the product (5%)
consumers changing brands covid-19 1

While there is some brand switching occurring, the majority of consumers are still able to buy their preferred products, either at their regular store or another store. Only a small proportion are deciding to go without the products entirely.

Consumers’ Brand Switching Behavior 

Our consumer survey also explored the brand switching solutions employed by the consumers who were unable to find their preferred brands in the store. Week 8 survey results revealed that 17% of consumers were buying more private label products than they were pre-COVID-19 (down one point from Week 6), while 17% were buying more brand name products (up two points from Week 6). 

consumers changing brands covid-19

While we saw in earlier weeks an increased consumer preference for well-known brand name products following the COVID-19 outbreak, these results show an equal proportion of consumers switching to private label and brand name. This higher-than-expected interest in private label may indicate increased price sensitivity among some consumers, or it may simply reflect the availability of products in the store.

Product Availability Indicates Food Supply Chain Is Recovering

When comparing Week 8 with Week 6 survey results, we see some good news—early indications of supply chain recovery. The proportion of consumers who were able to find everything they needed at the store increased by nine points (from 57% to 66% ) over  this two-week period.

Factors contributing to this improvement may include adaptive supply chain strategies by manufacturers and distributors to keep retailers stocked. Another possibility is a slow shift back to pre-COVID-19 grocery shopping patterns. Consumer behaviors such as stocking up on staple items were responsible for much of the initial food supply chain disruption following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Looking Ahead

During these uncertain times, you can count on Glanbia to bring you the timely information you need to keep your customers satisfied. Look for more great insights on consumers’ changing food purchasing behaviors during the COVID-19 situation and how they're impacting the food industry coming soon!

To learn more about our ongoing consumer research, contact Glanbia Nutritionals today

Read Part 3 - In-Person Grocery Runs Continue to Decline.

Read Part 5 - How Changing Consumer Diets May Impact Food and Beverage.

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