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How COVID-19 is changing and influencing the way people are buying food

September 9, 2020  By Alberta Agriculture

Alberta Agriculture’s Consumer Corner looks at how COVID-19 is changing and influencing the way people are buying food.

‘COVID-19 is driving change in consumer behaviour,’ explains Jeewani Fernando, provincial consumer market analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

‘There are reasons to believe that certain fundamental shifts in consumer behaviour will have long lasting effects and may have implications for the agri-food sector.’

She says that although the impact of the pandemic varies across regions and countries, emerging behaviours are clearly visible. Those include:

  • shifting to value-based products and essentials
  • shopping online and using omnichannels – creating a single customer experience across the brand
  • focusing more on health, quality, safety and the ‘caring’ economy
  • decreasing brand loyalty
  • homebody economy

‘Understanding these emerging behaviours may help the agri-food industry solve issues it’s facing today, assist with planning for tomorrow and preparing for the future,’ she adds.

Fernando notes that streamlining product portfolios, realigning base prices and promotion may be necessary to stay competitive.

‘Since consumers’ shopping frequency has declined, offering larger package sizes for lower prices would be one strategy.’

With the dramatic rise in e-commerce, she says that small businesses will need to increasingly turn to e-commerce platforms, while efficiently running their brick and mortar stores and using omnichannel platforms in innovative ways.

‘During the pandemic, many consumers have been forced to look outside their preferred brands based on what is available at the grocery store or due to price concerns,’ she explains. ‘Focusing on how to foster a brand community digitally will be crucial and having a loyal online community will be a key ingredient to fuel continued brand success.’

She adds that with cooking and meal planning fatigue felt by some consumers, there is also an opportunity to provide quick and convenient meal solutions and recipes.

Read Consumer Corner’s COVID-19 and emerging consumer behaviour report.

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