6 Grocery Trends Brands Should Capitalize On

How to surprise and delight consumers

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Everything we thought we knew about shopping habits and the grocery store has changed. We’ve come to expect arrows pointing one way down each aisle, plexiglass partitions between checkout counters and contactless payments. But, the pandemic has also deeply impacted consumers’ shopping habits: their needs and desires.

While some consumers are focused on stocking up on the basics and pantry items, they’re simultaneously getting bored with cooking and eating the same things over and over again. The Premium Opportunity, cited three pandemic-sensitive demand drivers: stress-relieving indulgence, immunity and hygiene. It also notes a trend toward trading up in many categories and an uptick in specialty foods to mimic the restaurant experience in homes.

For many, food shopping may be the only time they venture out, so brands and retailers have an opportunity to make shopping more interesting and fun, while keeping in mind that consumers are also zipping through the aisles to get what they need and get out. And, given the new normal, it’s not unusual to discover that their favorite go-to products are sold out, so they may be approaching shopping as a treasure hunt, looking for new and exciting things to try.

While some store experiences are built around the concept of a treasure hunt—think Home Goods, TJ Maxx or Trader Joe’s, where the discovery is part of the allure—there are opportunities for brands to get creative and find new ways to collaborate that will surprise and delight consumers, alleviate some of their stress and fall within these areas of demand. Here are some opportunities:

Grab and go

Consumers want fewer things to touch, so by combining various products (similar to all-in-one meal kits) they can offer new ideas and allow shoppers to capture the whole meal in one place. These items can be bundled in specially designed packaging and then assembled at a third-party co-packer. Alternately, a collection of ingredients can be merchandised together (e.g., hot dogs, buns, relish, mustard, chips).

Disrupt the aisle

Use endcap displays or place products in other less traditional locations to get your products in front of consumers in unexpected places. Califia has been doing this successfully by merchandising their milk alternatives with refrigerated coffee products, in holiday displays, etc. Allow consumers to stumble upon your brand when they’re not looking for you.

Co-brand spaces 

Forge a partnership with another CPG brand to create a product mash-up (e.g., Tillamook Greek yogurt with Bob’s Red Mill Oat Granola) that becomes a grab-and-go combo. This can create an aha moment for consumers who may never have put the two together.

Provide new recipe ideas 

With many consumers stocking up on the basics, they are looking for creative ways to use them. A large tub of vanilla protein powder can have a myriad of uses. Then there are the classic twists (e.g., Smokey S’mores: chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow and chipotle powder) that provide opportunities to expand a loyal brand following.

Create power pairings 

Standard basic ingredients can be paired with functional ones for immunity-boosting options. Even basic baking ingredients can be paired together (e.g., pie shells and flour with turmeric). Keto or vegan co-branding opportunities are another way to fill this demand.

Develop right size packaging 

With the likelihood of smaller gatherings during the Big Game and beyond, consumers will likely need smaller package sizes as well. For example, Velveeta has introduced small packs that can be displayed on-shelf with Ritz crackers.

There are opportunities now for challenger brands as well as midweight brands to extend, innovate and engage with consumers in new ways. Think about creating a different business model or develop a licensing style guide that includes ways to inspire partnerships with other brands (e.g., potato chips with Morton salt).

Now’s the time to reach across the aisle and show retailers that you—and other brands—can be better together.