The Coronavirus Era: Where and How Consumers Shop in Food and Nutrition

April 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly changed where and how consumers shop. Businesses must analyse this evolution and reshape their selling strategies accordingly. This report delves into these two important aspects of shopping, where and how, from the point of food and nutrition and gives a clear understanding of which channels to invest in and what kind of solutions businesses should adopt to be agile and stand out as the competition intensifies.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

E-commerce boost on the back of COVID-19 in grocery shopping

E-commerce was already becoming a phenomenon in food shopping pre-COVID-19 with investments from both e-commerce giants such as Amazon and FMCG giants such as Unilever which is focusing on the direct-to-consumer model as a result of soaring online food sales. With the home seclusion effect of COVID-19, the adoption of online buying among global consumers reached record-breaking levels at the expense of in-store shopping and this shift online is expected to stick post-COVID-19.

Speciality and convenience stores suffer from price sensitivity and diminishing foot traffic

COVID-19 changed consumers' priorities in food shopping in line with the downturn in disposable income led by increasing unemployment rates. Consumers increasingly prioritise value for money, which impacted speciality shops that typically offer premium/ artisanal products. Convenience stores were also impacted by the pandemic due to home confinement which reduced foot traffic significantly.

The rise of contactless solutions accelerated by COVID-19

As health took centre stage throughout the pandemic, consumers increasingly sought solutions that enable them to make purchases by reducing the risk of contamination to a minimum. In that context, “contactless” emerged as the safest way for consumers to avoid risky touch points. These health concerns of consumers led retailers to develop solutions, such as fully-automated stores, allowing consumers to avoid all the front-end hassles in brick-and-mortar stores, including scanning and payment.

Subscription models gain traction

Subscription boxes, especially meal kits, had already been gaining traction among urban shoppers wanting to undertake home cooking but spend less time doing so. With the success of initial start-ups specialised in this format, such as HelloFresh, the application of subscription models has been extended to different food categories including snacks. COVID-19 boosted the demand for these models as consumers either want to experience new recipes or indulge themselves with curated boxes.

Key findings
Dramatic growth in e-commerce on the back of COVID-19 in 2020
Shift to e-commerce is expected to stick post-pandemic
China and the US drive e-commerce growth
China’s e-commerce giants invest in “community group buying” models
Food manufacturers capitalise on direct-to-consumer (DTC) model
Hurdles in front of speciality shops on the back of COVID-19
Economic downturn hinders performance of specialists
COVID-19 changed the priorities in favour of hygiene
Essentials take the centre stage as consumer fill their pantries
Artisanal chocolate specialists struggle with changing shopping trends
COVID-19 drives dramatic reductions in consumer mobility
Small formats’ performance slows down but…
…independent small grocers benefits from proximity
Integrating with mobile e-commerce: a way of staying afloat for c-stores
COVID-19 amplifies the trend to spend less time in stores…
…leading to a reduction in product sales driven by impulse
Mobile apps are gaining traction to avoid congestion
Drivers behind contactless
Contact-free becomes a reality rather than a futuristic dream
Key themes in the use of contactless
Full-automated retailers are the next frontier
E-commerce models goes beyond online ordering
Cooking experience and value for money emerge as key drivers
Younger shoppers embrace the subscription models the most
Apps offer convenience while…
…livestreaming benefits from interactive events
New commerce models increase in number across the globe
Future outlook

Health and Wellness

Health and Wellness encompasses a number of key claims made on a food or drink products that suggest a health and/or wellness positioning. It comprises positionings relating to better for you, dietary and free from, fortified/functional, health benefit, natural and organic. Please note that data is not available at this level or other aggregated claim levels.

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