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Holiday grocery shopper insights: unique opportunity for brands

October 25, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Many consumers will be returning to in-store shopping this season after purchasing groceries online last year.
  • Holiday grocery shoppers are looking forward to making their own side dishes from scratch this season.
  • Shoppers will be seeking recipe inspirations for these side dishes online and on social media.
  • Brands in the ingredient category have a unique opportunity to differentiate and drive consideration to land their products into carts.

Grocery shopping consumer behavior over the holidays

Even in the face of unprecedented challenges, the holiday shopping season remains the largest consumer sales event of the year. According to the National Retail Federation, the months of November and December typically comprise roughly 20% of retailers’ annual sales in the U.S. In the grocery industry, those figures are often higher thanks in part to the increase in family and friends gathering for meals and celebrations. While it’s traditionally thought of as a season marked by overspending, this year consumers are making some changes to that mindset as they head into the holiday months.

As the pandemic eases and inflation-related price increases continue to hit grocery stores, consumers are changing some of their grocery buying habits. In our recent holiday shopper behavior study, 84.51° asked 400 consumers who shopped at one of Kroger’s 25+ banner stores about their actions and attitudes heading into the season.

More than half of our respondents said their grocery shopping behavior has changed since before COVID-19. For some segments of that group, those shopping behaviors have changed since just last year. For example, many shoppers who purchased groceries online last year will return to stores this season: Compared to last year, 23% of respondents plan to shop more in store this year, and 26% plan to shop less online for delivery.

Also, while our study found that the overall items purchased will remain similar to last year, shoppers will be taking steps to cut costs — whether they’re purchasing online or in-store. To that end, notable shifts in consumer behavior include more people stocking up on items (57%) and reducing the number of impulse purchases they make (50%).

Holiday insight: increase in made-from-scratch sides over store-bought

Whether it’s their grandma’s recipe or a new twist on an old classic, shoppers are looking forward to making side dishes from scratch for their holiday gatherings this year. Our research found that 84% of shoppers plan to make mashed potatoes from scratch, 72% plan to make sweet potatoes from scratch, and 79% plan to make green bean casserole from scratch.

Holiday main dishes might be the stars of the show, but these supporting characters comprise a substantial piece of business that should not be overlooked. While shoppers do prefer to buy some side dishes in-store (hello, cranberry sauce: 81% of consumers still prefer to buy it boxed or canned), they still want to offer their friends and families a gift from their hearts — and their kitchens — in the form of homemade sides.

Opportunities for ingredient brands

Because ingredient products are typically thought of as pantry staples, brands don’t generally consider them for discounts or promotions. But consumers’ desire to make side dishes from scratch presents an opportunity for brands in the ingredient category — like butter or broth — to win the shelf by developing offers and incentives that drive those shoppers from awareness to consideration so their brands are the ones that make their way into carts.

Actionable tip: meet consumers as they shop online for ingredients

As customers planning to make items from scratch turn to the web and social media seeking recipe inspirations, ingredient brands should jump on the opportunity to meet them in those spaces with promotions to help them bring their recipes to life. And with the size of holiday gatherings increasing this year, other brands can get in on the act by providing easy access to discounts and creative culinary hacks to make preparing those dishes easier on the chef.

Get more data-backed holiday insights

As grocery shopper trends continue to evolve, it’s crucial to know what consumers are prioritizing and how they plan to purchase this holiday season. To learn more about the consumer behaviors that will be affecting your business this year, read our new white paper, Holidays 2022: 8 key shopper insights and how brands can respond to win the in-store and digital shelf this season.

Download the white paper


If you’d like to learn more about consumer trends in grocery shopping behavior and how to leverage them, here are some additional pieces that might interest you:

Don’t discount the value of online promotions: Shoppers are filling up their baskets in new ways, and brands need to be ready to meet them where they are.

Prepared Foods: Consumers Manage Shopping During Inflation, Opt for Plant-Based Foods and Look Toward Seasonal Offerings: 84.51° consumer research highlights how the cooler weather is affecting shopping habits.

Quikly: The state of inflation (with podcast): 84.51° Vice President of Commercial Insights Barbara Connors shares insights on how rising prices are affecting consumer spending in this article and podcast.

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