As of April 2, more than 90 percent of Americans are under government-issued stay-at-home orders designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, forcing consumers to stay indoors and practice safe social distancing. This rapid change has resulted in a dramatic shift in consumer shopping behaviors, who must now seek new ways to make sure they have the supplies they need.
While stores selling essential goods remain open, consumers are relying more on online channels to stock up on groceries and other goods. According to research firm Brick Meets Click and ShopperKit, 31 percent of U.S. households, or roughly 40 million consumers, used online grocery services including home delivery and pick up in March. In a survey by Grocery Dive, 26 percent said they used an online grocery service for the first time – more than double the number average number of monthly online users reported in August 2019.
The challenges with the availability of mass brands is also leading to an increase in business for small DTC brands, particularly those who make and deliver bathroom tissue, health products, and household essentials. For example, Peach, which makes high-end, eco-friendly bathroom tissue saw new customers increase by 279 percent in the last two weeks of March, while hand sanitizer brand Touchland sold out of its products and amassed a waiting list of over 10,000 orders.
Though America is hoping for a slow return to normalcy over the coming months, shopping trends established now are likely to change the way consumers shop in the future. According to Grocery Dive, 43 percent of shoppers noted that they were likely to continue online grocery shopping after the pandemic ends. To prepare for this “new normal,” consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies will need to accelerate toward digital transformation by opening new routes to market to meet these dramatic – and likely long-lasting – shifts in consumer needs and behaviors, while taking control over their inventory, pricing and reliance on big retailers. To do this, CPGs should take a holistic approach to commerce, which integrates and aligns digital channels, partner e-commerce and physical retail to create connected experiences across each stage of the customer journey.