Matthew Pavich is managing director of global strategic consulting at Revionics, an Aptos Company. The views expressed here are those of the author.
Inventory shortages, lifestyle changes and evolving purchasing behaviors have all contributed to changing brand loyalties during the pandemic, leading shoppers to buy new products and switch brand allegiances. According to Ketchum, 62% of people who have shifted their brand preferences will make that change permanent before the pandemic is over.
So, if one brand of toilet paper is out of stock, it’s likely that consumers will be willing to test out another brand, presenting an opportunity to steal the hearts and wallets of customers for years to come. This includes an opportunity for private label brands to step up and differentiate themselves from well-recognized national brands.
While consumer behavior continues to evolve, one thing remains the same: the importance of price. In fact, McKinsey found that given consumers’ pricing sensitivity, value remains the primary reason for consumers to try new brands as well as new places to shop.
With COVID-19 shifting brand loyalties, how can grocers use pricing to adjust to consumer preferences and capitalize on evolving trends?
Leverage real-time data analytics
First, grocers should determine the right prices that will satisfy customers while protecting margins. As shoppers gravitate toward adding new products and brands to their assortments, it’ll become even more important to dynamically adjust pricing as brand preferences evolve.
To account for changing brand loyalties, grocers can collect advanced analytics and real-time data to modify pricing decisions based on shifts in customer behavior and expectations. For example, if one brand becomes increasingly popular due to an inventory shortage of another brand, grocers can quickly reevaluate their assortments and maximize the performance of their pricing strategy. Grocers can also use this data to determine which products to index their private label prices against, setting a competitive strategy structure that doesn’t cut into demand. Having this information in order to understand key swings in brand loyalties will allow grocers to quickly react and respond to the most recent customer brand preferences, driving sales and improving the bottom line.
Develop a seamless omnichannel pricing strategy
The pandemic has spurred a rise in the use of e-commerce, whether through home delivery, curbside pickup or in-store pickup. Grocery is one of the fastest-growing e-commerce segments, which will lead to a permanent shift in consumer behavior as shoppers continue choosing online ordering to meet their grocery shopping needs.
However, building customer loyalty in an omnichannel world can be challenging, especially when preferences can change rapidly between online and in-store shopping. That’s why grocers must develop a strong omnichannel strategy by leveraging superior analytics that determine shopping behavior by channels, identifying patterns and accounting for shifts in channel behavior. Grocers should also refine their channel strategy to align with consumers’ omnichannel expectations. Otherwise, disconnected prices and promotions between online and in-store can create a disjointed shopping experience for consumers, lowering shopper satisfaction and profitability.
Maximize promotional performance to drive sales
As shoppers identify new products and brands to try, it’s more important than ever for grocers to align their promotional calendar and strategies with shopper behaviors. This can be done by finding ways to deliver innovative promotions for items that resonate with this shifting demand, which will engage consumers with their newfound preferences and encourage sales. Grocers can also determine affinities that have emerged because of changing brand preferences. And because grocery promotions are often heavily funded by vendors, maximizing promotional outcomes can also maximize vendor funding, leading to strong, effective relationships with vendors.
The same traditional promotions that worked one or two years ago won’t work again this year. By determining winners, eliminating underperformers and identifying opportunities for brands to stand out, grocers can maximize promotional performance.
Build loyalty with new buyers
All in all, it’s clear that the pandemic has changed shopper buying habits and created new opportunities for grocers to understand shifts in brand loyalties. With the right analytics and strategies, grocers can identify and determine ways to cater to customers’ evolving needs and lure new customers, whether through branded offerings or their own private label brands. A strong pricing strategy that accounts for changing brand loyalties will be the key to creating great customer loyalty amid this dynamic market environment.