The impact of evolving grocery buying behavior

Vice President, Audience Engagement

Comfort found in our kitchens

As consumers living through a historical moment in time, we’ve been flooded with articles, infographics and memes putting a spotlight on the phenomena that is emotional eating. We took a look at how buying behaviors are evolving with the COVID-19 pandemic and how this impacts the grocery industry.

A shift in grocery buying behavior

So why do people turn to food for comfort during uncertain times? We polled our internal team at FARM and found that the top three categories they are indulging in more during this time at home are homemade baked goods, ice cream, and salty snacks.

As marketers, it is our job to anticipate if and how these consumer behaviors will continue to change as the situation unfolds around us. It is daunting to consider that we’ll now have two phases in our lifetime to refer to, pre- and post-pandemic.

Now the question that continues to rise like freshly baked bread is: will we emerge as new versions of our former selves when we go back out into the world, or pick back up where we left off?

Filling Our Pantries

Grocery shopping has been turned upside down; not only when it comes to how and where we shop, but also what we’re buying. Gone are the days of the daily question “what am I picking up on the way home?” Instead, a new need to plan ahead and shop in as few trips as possible.

While we are spending more time in our kitchens than ever before, the question is, are we whipping up salads during our pseudo lunch break to parallel what we might have eaten in office? Or, have most of us succumb to the craving for something a bit more comforting, when so much around us feels out of our control and heavy?

If it were just a normal Monday, heating up SpaghettiOs® for lunch and baking fresh bread with dinner might seem frowned upon in a gluten-free world. But, for our version of today, it may be just what the doctor ordered … in moderation, of course.

Nourishing Our Hearts

There’s a reason so many of us long for a Sunday family dinner; it’s not just Mom’s sauce that we crave but the sentiment behind it. We yearn for time with family that we can’t hug right now, we want so badly to have our friends and family close around the table and we’d give anything to just go back to what once was.

There’s no crystal ball to tell us what happens next or how the future plays out, so we focus on what we can control. We can send hand-written notes, we can connect on video, and if we want to bake something different each night this week, then we do that. Because we need to find our own version of what it means to get through this time.

As marketers, we can help provide the tools for consumers to make those connections and find that source of comfort. And for so many of us, that comes in the form of food we never knew we needed.

To learn more about how FARM can help you navigate shifting buying behaviors, whether you’re in the grocery industry or not, drop us a line! We’d love to have a conversation.

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Jillian Cascarino
Vice President, Audience Engagement
As our vice president of audience engagement, Jillian puts her more than 20 years of experience connecting companies with their customers through targeted storytelling techniques to good use. Her expertise in customer engagement strategies and tactics extends to organic social media, content marketing, and public relations, as well as strategic planning and messaging, marketing persona development, and audience alignment. When she’s not working, Jillian’s baking sweet treats for family and friends, tending to her garden, or playing board games with her husband and son.

Our Take

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