Consumer Behavior Shifts in a Global Pandemic
What long-term consumer behavior changes should your business prepare for in a post COVID-19 world?
13 November 2020
2020 has been marked by the rapid spread of COVID-19. It has caused large scale disruption in the way people live and work, redefining consumer behaviors along the way. The food & beverage industry, along with the rest of the world, will need to adapt to the ‘new-normal’ and how the increased focus on health and social distancing has impacted consumer trends going forward.
The importance of health and hygiene has stayed at the forefront of consumer thinking as a result of the rapid global spread of COVID-19. In a recent survey on global consumers, over 60% of respondents stated they have become more conscious about their overall health as a result of COVID-19, with 80% also looking to actively improve the latter1.
Working from home has been embraced by many in this “new normal”, as government lockdowns and social distancing remains prevalent around the world. This is showing no signs of going away even after the pandemic has settled, as a growing number of companies look to implement flexibility in their future ways of working.
of people who never worked from home previously now plan to work from home more often in the future2.
Mealtimes have regained importance
As people spend more time at home due to COVID-19 lockdowns, there has been an average of six additional “in-home” meal occasions recorded per week3, largely due to an increase in snacking. People are slowing down and spending more time with family, trading on-the-go lifestyles for thoughtful mealtime experiences. Breakfasts, meals that would’ve once been brushed off in the morning rush, have now become an important source of nutrition enjoyed sitting down with the family.
With an abundance of spare time at home, many are also turning to the kitchen as a suitable way to pass the time. Consumers have reported spending more time preparing home-cooked meals as well as getting more creative with the meals they prepare. Ready meals have also risen in demand as these are suitable alternatives to restaurants and takeaways, whilst also a useful source of help for less kitchen-savvy consumers4.
Growing Health & Nutrition Awareness
As the number of at-home meal occasions increase and levels of activity diminish, consumers are making conscious decisions to benefit their personal health. People are actively seeking products that can offer greater nutritional benefits, including those with low sugar and fat.
Consumers are also taking preventative measures to improve their personal immunity in the face of a global pandemic.
Functional foods with strong health and immunity connotations have experienced a sharp in popularity according to a recent FMCG Gurus Report. These include products with added protein and sources of probiotics and prebiotics5.
In parallel, rapid improvements to the on-demand digital fitness market is providing many with the tools to continue the active lifestyle they once had prior to pandemic induced lockdowns.
Despite the massive disruption caused by COVID-19, this pandemic has helped bring forward many pressing issues often overlooked. One of these is the increased awareness of mental health.
Government imposed lockdowns and social distancing restrictions have left many feeling anxious in the face of negative media and the prospect of reduced human interaction due to lengthy home isolation. An increasingly large number of people now report being more conscious of their mental wellbeing as a result of COVID-19.
Percentage of global consumers who say that they have become more conscious about their mental wellbeing as a result of COVID-19 1.
To help alleviate mental health issues, consumers are actively seeking mood and energy-boosting foods that can provide clarity and home comfort in stressful times.
This coincides with the accelerated growth of snacking around the world. Snacks with immunity and mood-boosting claims have experienced rapid growth in popularity in the last four years, with a 21% increase in global snack bar launches which contain immunity and similar health benefits6.
COVID-19 has resulted in many changes to our daily activities. Unprecedented global lockdowns, social distancing and the desire to save money has forced consumers to alter their consumption behaviors and create new ones. Food and drink products are supporting consumer desires to lead healthier lifestyles, from being physically active to looking out for their mental wellbeing.
Functional foods with immunity-boosting products are in high demand as these can support long-term health and wellbeing goals amid an uncertain global pandemic. Brands must adapt to the rapidly evolving nature of consumption, from frequency to location.
As the world shifts away from on-the-go lifestyles and towards socially distant ones, food & beverage manufacturers should look to incorporate the above trends into their own innovation pipelines in order to adapt to the new normal.
Learn more about these topics in NZMP Fast Facts
-  FMCG Gurus: Top Trend 8: Functional Lifestyle Explored
-  Accenture Covid-19 CGS Pulse Survey June 2020
-  Kantar World Panel
-  FMCG Gurus: How Has COVID-19 Changed Consumer Behaviour (July)
-  FMCG Gurus: July 2020 COVID-19 Surveys
-  Mintel GNPD