I stumbled on a McKinsey report that I found interesting. McKinsey has been conducting ongoing extensive global research during the COVID crisis, trying to make sense of consumer sentiment and claimed/intended shopping behavior as the pandemic drags on.
The research has been conducted in 45 countries as part of the McKinsey Consumer Pulse Surveys, tracking everything from an optimism score to a very granular category by category shopping behavior metric, asking how consumers are feeling about the future. The major conclusion? You probably guessed it: uncertainty.
Data I found particularly interesting detailed categories in which consumers are intending to pull back or spend more in the near future.
While McKinsey hypothesizes that globally (except for India and China) consumers are intending to reduce their overall spending, it would appear that they (except the French) are actually intending to spend more on groceries!
The “ah-has” for us were two-fold:
- Even in a pandemic, we still have to eat. The study suggests that consumers are flocking to value and quality, even as loyalty is eroding when challenged by price and availability. Grocery brands have an opportunity (as well as an imperative) to convey those attributes to drive consumer choice.
- For all other categories with a projected reduction in spending, brands will be fighting for a slice of a smaller pie. It therefore becomes incumbent on brands to make the most of every opportunity to influence choice along the consumer path-to-purchase.
We have been thinking a lot about this as we build solutions to help clients make sense of an increasingly omnichannel world, which has only been further accelerated by COVID. While we have observed some truisms that apply across the board, we have realized that these challenges (and opportunities) are not “one size fits all”, and each brand needs to navigate these new customer journeys with a uniquely charted course.
What are the truisms? For one thing, the shopper experience is no longer brick-and-mortar versus online e-commerce. The shopper journey is the intersection and seamless navigation between the two.
COVID may have spurred adoption, but consumer segments we might have never predicted are converting in droves
While most brands have always wanted to understand where their products rank in category norms, they now want to know exactly where they fit in the consumer’s choice architecture – from awareness, to consideration, to purchase.
Category best practices will only take a brand so far, and pre-pandemic golden rules of merchandising, shopper marketing, pricing, and overall category management are no longer completely reliable. A holistic, 360 degree understanding of all the touchpoints that are ripe for intervention should be customized to measure your specific brand, the context of the purchase behavior and where the consumer has been influenced online prior to the purchasing “moment of truth”. The metrics and recommendations need to be unique to your brand, your products, your specific mix of retail channel partners, and how your consumer segments define and recognize value.
That requires an enormous amount of agile data analysis, robust tech tools to get at the insights quickly and efficiently, as well as a qualitative assessment and behavioral framework so that recommendations are actionable and can drive growth. Most importantly, it takes a research partner with category expertise, even if the nuances have shifted due to COVID.
With the uncertainty of the coming months, brands may question how to put their best foot forward – a holistic omnichannel approach is the answer!
Contact us to learn how we can help your brand succeed in an omnichannel world.
Nicole Alfano is the Senior Product Manager of PRS IN VIVO’s OmniPath™ team, leading project execution and providing client consultancy as well as thought leadership on omnichannel shopper journeys. She has been with PRS IN VIVO for over 10 years, originally with the Insights team, gaining experience across numerous clients and categories, and also the Operations team, given her passion for organization and efficiency. Nicole is based in New Jersey, where she lives with her husband, 2 daughters, and pup.