Direct-to-consumer to attract 49% of brand comfort seekers during UK’s lockdown

Big food brands are offering direct-to-consumer home delivery services for the first time amid the COVID-19 lockdown. This comes as no surprise given the in-store shopping restrictions and subsequent comfort seeking from consumers. Due to the current situation, high levels of uncertainty surround consumers’ everyday lives, and as a result they are seeking comfort in the areas of life they still have control over such as grocery shopping. Fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturers are able to leverage this by reaching out to consumers directly, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

One key area of comfort seeking is a retreat to brands that are familiar. GlobalData found that nearly half (49%) of UK consumers are currently trying to only buy from their favorite brands during the lockdown.*

Aaron Bryson, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, commented: “Heritage brands and those with a long-standing presence in consumers’ minds will benefit from the trust they have built with their fans. On the other hand, brands and products that consumers are less familiar with, will feel the short-term impact of consumers retreating to tradition and comfort.”

The recent panic-buying sprees have compelled brands to look at alternative ways to provide consumers with the products they need. Heinz have taken the direct to consumer approach, providing a bundle of their most popular products, including baked beans, tomato soup and spaghetti hoops, online and available for doorstep delivery.

Bryson continues: “Not only will this appeal to consumers who typically enjoy Heinz products and have struggled to find these in stores, it will also appeal to those who have been unable to visit stores. Heinz are taking the opportunity to utilize consumers’ limited movement by entering the eCommerce market for the first time.”

GlobalData found that 50% of consumers state how familiar/trust-worthy/risk-free a product/service feels has the greatest influence on their product/service choice**. The development of comfort seeking is a reversal on the trend of increasingly experimental consumers. In recent years, brands had been developing an ever-growing portfolio of innovative and experimental products to appeal to what was a growing number of consumers who were seeking something beyond the norm. The unfolding pandemic has reversed the trend and seen consumers revert back to traditionally popular products. While the pandemic continues to unfold, brands which consumers derive comfort from, seem set to ride the storm and perform well.

However, in the long-term, once normality and confidence has returned to consumers’ lives, we’re likely to see the upturn of the same trends as before, with brands developing increasingly novel and experimental products. This highlights the great timing of Heinz’s move. Developing its own eCommerce store now will not only help it gauge demand for the service but also allows it full control over how they launch their products in the future, be it adapting to novel or nostalgic product launches.

Bryson adds: “What brands can learn from Heinz is that there is never an end to opportunities. Despite offering its eCommerce site with a limited scope of products to fill a relatively short-term gap, longer-term opportunities will arise from their responsiveness.”

* GlobalData Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker Consumer Survey – Week 3 – UK

** GlobalData Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker Consumer Survey – Week 3 – UK, number of consumers who stated ‘always/often’ influences their choice.

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