The sofa calls as lockdown speculation looms – Consumer trends

Three interesting pieces of research released over the past couple of days suggest that consumers are likely to be staying in this winter.

A Mintel study finds that 42% of Brits believe a full lockdown is likely to be imposed over the colder months. Though it's worth noting that almost 70% of those surveyed believe people will be less willing to stick to the rules.

“With many people viewing vaccines as a means to leave social distancing in the past, the return of more extreme social distancing rules (including a full lockdown) is likely to find consumers less compliant with each reimposition,” says Jack Duckett, associate director of consumer lifestyle research at Mintel. “For brands, it has been important since the start of the pandemic to prove to consumers that they are trustworthy and able to support their customers throughout these lifestyle changes. And this is still critical today.”

Brands might also consider what people are actually doing at home.

Another piece of research, this time from on demand food delivery app Zapp, finds that 72% of consumers think a film night at home on a Friday is “more exciting than dinner or drinks out after a long week at work”, suggesting some habits from previous lockdowns are likely to linger. The survey also found that a large glass of chilled white wine is the “perfect accompaniment” to movie night, with 16% of the votes.

“It’s interesting to see just how many people continue to prefer a night in over a night out post pandemic,” says Steve O’Hear, VP of strategy at Zapp. “The behaviours we had to adopt have actually become our preferred way to spend our time.”

Meanwhile, the latest figures from category insights specialists IGD ShopperVista’s Shopper Confidence Index show a fall in confidence owing to the rising cost of living. In September, shopper confidence fell to -9, compared to -4 in August. The report finds that financial confidence across lower income households continues to decrease with 42% expecting to be worse off in the year ahead, compared to 26% in August. Confidence among higher income households also decreased with 30% expecting to be worse off in the year compared to 22% in Aug 21.

“This month’s Shopper Confidence Index is a sobering read and we anticipate it will be a similar story next month, following the steady decline we’ve seen throughout September,” says Simon Wainwright, director of global insight at IGD.

“Moving forward shopper focus will be on value for money and we will see much wider adoption of the 2021 ‘savvy shopping’ trend as shoppers look to save money, with many switching to private label products, motivated by seeking out savings.  The discount channel is forecast to be the fastest-growing grocery channel over the next five years, and we will see many shoppers shift their shopping behaviour to make cost-savings from this channel.

“Shopper confidence will remain very fragile for the foreseeable future so retailers and suppliers will need to focus on building loyalty by supporting their customers’ needs by offering value for money.”

A potential lockdown, low confidence and sofa nights will dictate many winter evenings, giving retailers an opportunity to showcase their best value and own label products – as well as continue to flex those ecommerce platforms and loyalty schemes that have been honed over the past two years. But let’s not forget that there is still a lot of confidence from the trade around Christmas treating and family gatherings (lockdowns permitting), suggesting there’s still room for something special in most consumers’ baskets. 

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