5 Things you Need to Know About Customer Loyalty Post-Pandemic
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Shopping behavior, availability of pantry staples, cooking from home – these are just a few of the changes that happened during the pandemic and which are shaping customer loyalty as retail moves into a new normal. Consider these effects of the pandemic on customer loyalty and the impact for retail dietitians.
#1: Convenience is driving shopper loyalty. Having experienced food product shortages and with food companies doing SKU rationalization, being able to get all the items they need from one place is a key consumer priority. Whether they shop online or in-store, the days of going to multiple retailers are gone. The ability to buy absolutely everything they want in one place is why people love Amazon, and this trend is bleeding into grocery retail.
- Retail RD Implications: Stay on top of SKU rationalization at your retailer and be prepared to proactively offer nutritious substitutions to your clients and health-conscious shoppers.
#2: Buying Local is more important than ever. The National Retail Federation indicated that 49 percent of consumers made a purchase specifically with the intention of supporting local small businesses during the crisis. Shoppers feel better about buying a product that is locally sourced as they feel like that business is part of their community. This consumer need is coming from a social responsibility lens. Whole Foods recently announced the opening of a Florida store focused on hyper local food products.
- Retail RD Implications: Promote BFY local products. Conduct live streams on farm or at vendor production facilities. Share local food companies’ stories in social and digital. Create recipes built from locally sourced products.
#3: Value and convenience trump brand loyalty. Due to pandemic shortages, consumers are shifting brands to get the items they needed leading to a willingness to try less familiar and private label brands. As money gets tight, shoppers are looking for deals, and value is even more important.
- Retail RD Implications: Build meal plans with heavy integration of private label brands and products. Promote the nutrition and health benefits of owned brands in key departments of your stores. Do social media “tastings” of specialty private label products that will surprise and delight your shoppers.
#4: CPG companies selling direct to consumer. As consumers are now much more comfortable purchasing food in an e-commerce environment, food manufacturers are beginning to sell straight to them. In this way, they own the relationship with their consumer and can avoid costs related to distributing and selling through retail.
- Retail RD Implications: Retail RD programs and services can be the value add that keeps shoppers coming to your stores and maintains their relationship with your retail. Market the uniqueness of your services that help shoppers make healthier food buying decisions along the path to purchase. Revisit your health and wellbeing strategies to ensure they provide a comprehensive solution for your shoppers.
#5: Sanitation and safety continue as shopper priorities. Shoppers want ongoing assurance of the sanitation and safety practices adopted by your retailer.
- Retail RD Implications: As trusted health professionals, retail RDs are ideally positioned to communicate these message points to shoppers. When discussing food safety during food demos, for example, add in a sound bite on your store’s sanitation measures. Share product recommendations that your store uses that are also available in consumer packages.