One of the clearest trends to have emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic is that consumers have changed their shopping habits, with leading high street retailers including Sainsbury’s suggesting that radical shifts in buying behaviour may prove to be permanent. To date, the focus has primarily been on purchasing channels – with data demonstrating a rapid shift towards online shopping platforms and an increased willingness among shoppers to trial reduced contact solutions such as Sainsbury’s SmartShop and Target’s Drive Up. As consumers become accustomed to ‘the new normal’, there are a wide range of challenges for brand owners to address. How do they respond if consumers are concerned about touching plastic or metal packaging? With consumers increasingly cash-strapped, what happens to non-essential impulse buys?And there’s more. Does the brand have a multi-pack option, which allows buyers to make fewer trips to the shop? Or is it stuck with dozens of product variants at a time when supermarkets are reducing the number of lines they put on the shelf?There are no easy answers. The retail market is evolving so quickly that brand consultants barely know what will happen in the next six weeks, let alone the next six months.
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