Supermarkets: Our Pandemic Partners

by Chuck White

While the Delta variant continues to extend across much of the United States, many daily activities have seemingly returned to pre-pandemic patterns.  Americans are cautiously returning to public events, restaurants, and schools with nostalgia of the “way things used to be.”  Despite this (however gradual) return to “normal” life, consumers have not forgotten the worst of the pandemic, or the people and organizations who supported them and society at large.  The phrase “essential worker” became part of our everyday lexicon, and grocery stores took on a new level of importance while also struggling with the impact of the pandemic on supply chains and their employees.  Once entities taken for granted, grocery stores became a lifeline to consumers in many senses of the word.

Grocers Understand Mental Health 

We have tracked a number of consumer perceptions throughout the pandemic, including how well consumers feel industries understand the effect of the pandemic on their mental health.  Across the 19 industries examined, grocery stores scored the highest, with 62% of consumers agreeing these retailers understood the pandemic’s impact on their mental health.  These results indicate a level of connection not felt with any other industry tracked.

Source: Burke June 2021 Omnibus 

Post-Pandemic Grocery Behavior is Changing 

At the same time, consumers are reevaluating their post-pandemic behaviors.  When asked about the level of change the pandemic will have on their future behavior, 23% indicated major or significant change in grocery shopping behaviors, again the highest of any category measured.

Source: Burke June 2021 Omnibus 

What Does the Future Hold?

As consumers consider changing their behaviors, they do so in the light of the grocery store as their “pandemic partner.”  Grocery brands should lean into this newfound equity in both communications and service offerings to drive loyalty and share growth, or risk shifting consumer behaviors in the opposite direction to look for new options.

To learn more about shifting consumer perspectives within the shopper and retail space, contact Chuck White.

Chuck White has worked in market information for over 20 years and is a thought leader on the alignment of brand and customer experience.  Chuck is a VP of Client Services at Burke and works with clients across various industries to improve customer engagement, brand strength and drive strategic innovation.

Interested in reading more? Check out Chuck’s other article:

Connected Measurement: About the Journey and the Destination

Building Authentic Brands in Inauthentic Times

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Source: Feature Image – ©hedgehog94 –


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