Consumer Digest: September 2021
Welcome to the September edition of the Consumer Digest, where we aim to provide relevant, informative and actionable insights around consumer trends and values. This month, we take a look at a return to normal, what consumers are prioritizing, their plans for the fall and parents take on kids going back to school.
Return to Normal – Are We There Yet?
58% of consumers said they don’t expect their lives to return to a pre-pandemic normal for at least 12 months, indicating that (surprise) we aren’t back to normal and might not be for some time. When asked what would signal normalcy, top responses included the end of mask requirements, hearing about it less on the news and not having to social distance.
The increase in cases has caused 66% of consumers to feel more stressed, with 1 in 4 saying they are very uncomfortable with trying to make future plans around traveling, events, etc. right now, something that could definitely impact the holidays.
Along with anxiety around making plans, total concern over COVID is also up this month: 44% of consumers saying they’re very stressed about COVID (even higher in the Southeast at 50%), up from 34% last month and marking the 3rd consecutive month of increased concern and the highest level of concern since April.
What Should We Be Serving to Consumers?
Consumers are looking for convenience when it comes to cooking, as 41% claim it is very important. Overall, consumers are looking for easier ways to cook for their families.
Health continues to be a hot topic for many – only 23% of consumers are very satisfied with their current health this month, compared to 30% in July. Over half are looking for healthier meals.
Consumers are still searching for value – over two-thirds still feel groceries are more expensive than the previous month and 73% of those that are stressed claim financial reasons – coming in even higher than COVID concerns.
Parents’ take on Back to School
As children head back to school, we look at how consumers are taking a different look at the health of food, now seeing COVID as a risk that can be lessened with good dietary habits, as well as how mealtime is changing.
With the Delta variant making children more susceptible to COVID, parents are anxious about the return to in-person schooling.
As a result, parents are turning to the aspect of school they can control – food – to help ease their anxiety and try to keep their kids healthy. Some parents are using the opportunity to educate their children, trying to set them up for long-term success and healthy choices.
Families are increasingly eating breakfast and lunch on the go, but more frequently sitting down for dinner together at home.
- 62% of consumers are planning to celebrate Halloween this year – primarily staying home and handing out candy and going trick or treating in their neighborhood
- As expected, candy is the top Halloween item to be purchased at Kroger, followed by food for a gathering and decorations
- When it comes to fall sports, 58% will be watching from home, while only 8% plan to go to live games
SOURCES: 1.) Gemic Qualitative Customer Work, September ’21 2.) September Thought Leadership Survey