Fall is finally here! As the weather cools down and grocery stores ramp up for the holidays, let Intouch Insight be the Goose – no, not the Christmas kind – to your Maverick with our latest Changes in Consumer Habits report.
Without lockdown and stay-at-home orders, many consumers expect to spend more on groceries this season in order to fuel the family gatherings and holiday parties they were unable to enjoy last year. But, while there is a shift back towards pre-pandemic priorities, it won't simply be 'business as usual'. In this 4th edition of the large scale North-American survey, Changes in Consumer Habits: What the 'New Normal' Means for Retail, Intouch Insight reveals key trends to help grocery stores align with current customer expectations and capitalize on the increased spending projected for the holidays.
As always, you can download the full report for free here, or continue reading for an overview of the key findings.
Customers expect multi-channel, digitally enabled experiences
While other retailers have seen a surge in online purchasing over the past two years, in-store shopping remains the most popular for grocery stores. 94% of fall respondents listed in-store shopping among their preferred methods of purchasing groceries. But alternative fulfillment methods still make up for a significant number of transactions.
60% of consumers reported having used alternative shopping methods with curbside pickup proving to be the most popular. When asked why they chose to use these services, most respondents indicated it was for the convenience and the time it saved but eliminating interactions with employees was ranked the third most popular reason - showing there remains a demand for these contactless services.
A strong online presence continues to play an important role in driving traffic to your stores. The newest data shows 86% of consumers conduct online research prior to making an in-store purchase. However, the purpose of this research has shifted. In the spring of 2021 consumers were primarily conducting online research to minimize the need to visit multiple stores. Now, continuing the trend towards pre-pandemic priorities, 80% of those surveyed say it is to find the best price.
Consumers continue to be more comfortable returning to businesses in-person
Operators will be happy to hear the frequency with which consumers visit physical stores continues to rise with grocery stores being the most frequently visited. 44% of fall respondents reported visiting a grocery 2-3 times a week compared to 38% for other retailers.
One reason for more frequent in-store visits could be reduced concerns around COVID-19 measures. Only 21% of consumers reported crowd management being an important factor in deciding whether to visit a physical location compared to 36% at the beginning of the year.
Similarly, the improvements consumers want to see from grocery stores have shifted as well. In the spring of 2021, the top two improvements requested by survey respondents were ensuring customers wear masks and improved cleanliness. Now, the top two improvements they want to see are cheaper delivery fees and easier online ordering.
However, while improved cleanliness may no longer be a top request, there has been little fluctuation in the importance of cleanliness over the past two years. 64% of recent respondents indicated the cleanliness of a store is an important factor when deciding whether to visit a physical location. This means that, while most businesses have risen to meet the new cleanliness expectations, it is still important to maintain these new standards.
Businesses are getting better at soliciting feedback, but there's still work to be done
If you read Intouch Insight's Spring 2021 report, you’ll know it flagged that not enough businesses were asking for customer feedback and it's encouraging to see these numbers rising. In the spring, 42% of consumers who completed an in-store purchase and 43% of consumers who completed an online purchase reported being asked for feedback. These are now up to 56% for in-store and 58% for online.
While this increase is positive, these numbers show a lot is still being left on the table - and it matters! When asked what influences their decision to shop with a brand, positive reviews ranked number one with 51% of consumers saying they were very important.
This means not only is soliciting feedback as important as ever when looking to attract customers but also ensuring you receive it. 63% of recent respondents said the main reason they don't provide feedback is that it takes too long.
Pro tip: Software like IntouchSurvey™ feature built-in logic that dynamically removes subsequent questions made irrelevant by data collected during the completion of a survey as well as survey health tools that estimate survey completion time and completion rate so you can collect the data that matters most.
Intouch Insight remains committed to helping grocery stores stay ahead of changing trends in consumer priorities. For more data and insights from our latest study, you can download the full report here. Or, if you're looking to stay up to date on customer experience news while you wait for the Spring 2022 report, you can sign up for Intouch Insight's monthly newsletter and have the latest articles delivered directly to your inbox!