Change and polarisation in food choices highlight need for supplier support

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered important changes in people’s attitudes to food and created a split between those seeking quality and value—but suppliers are well placed to help operators capitalise on post-lockdown sales opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered important changes in people’s attitudes to food and created a split between those seeking quality and value—but suppliers are well placed to help operators capitalise on post-lockdown sales opportunities.

 

CGA’s BrandTrack survey in late 2020 found that value for money and quality will be a more important factor for many people when the market reopens. Among these consumers, a third (32%) will be led by the quality of food when they choose where to eat out again, while a fifth (21%) will be most influenced by value.

 

This also leaves nearly half (46%) of this group of consumers seeking both quality and value when they eat out—a sign of the demands that will be placed on both operators and suppliers when the market reopens. Older people, in particular the over 65 age group, are more likely than average to be seeking this combination.

 

A renewed focus on value reflects a tightening of consumer spending since the start of the pandemic. More than two in five (44%) BrandTrack respondents say they have experienced financial hardship or a drop in household income due to COVID-19.

Lockdowns have created a pent-up demand for eating out, and we can expect many consumers to return quickly to restaurants and pubs when they can,” says Charlie Mitchell, CGA’s research and insight director. “But it’s also clear that the pandemic has taken a financial toll on many people while leaving others unscathed and actually saving money in recent months.

This polarisation will create a challenging set of demands on businesses, and all brands will need to carefully find the balance of quality and value that is best for their customers.”

The pandemic is also likely to lead many returning consumers to return to tried and trusted food choices after lockdown. Sizeable numbers said trustworthy (30%), local (21%) and British (15%) aspects of food will be more important than they were before COVID-19, while so much time spent at home will lead some to seek food options that they can’t make at home. There is also likely to be a sharper focus on wellbeing, with nearly a quarter of consumers saying healthy food options are more important to them than they were prior to the pandemic.

These trends point to a crucial role for suppliers in giving consumers what they want when the market can reopen,” says Charlie Mitchell. “By positioning products to meet these nuances in demands and supporting with marketing insights and promotional activity, suppliers can help operators to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

For more information, contact Fiona Speakman, Client Director – Food at fiona.speakman@cga.co.uk

 

CGA’s exclusive BrandTrack service surveys a nationally representative sample of 5,000 consumers. Its insights are crucial in helping operators and suppliers track the fast-changing behaviours and opinions of people returning to restaurants, pubs and bars after lockdown. For more about the service, click here and email Charlie Mitchell at charlie.mitchell@cga.co.uk.

 

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