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Insights, Research and Trends

New normal shopping

Market researcher Kantar recently conducted a survey to look at the impact of inflation and today’s economy on consumer support for sustainable practices.

Many respondents’ shopping and lifestyle habits have changed in response to the rising cost of living. For instance, globally, 54% cook at home more, 41% buy more reusable products, and 39% say they make more use of natural products found near their home.

In terms of buying eco-friendly brands over the past year, 58% globally say they regularly did so for grocery products, 53% for cleaning and laundry, 52% for paper products, 27% for cosmetics and 11% for baby products.

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The effect of rising prices

A mid-July report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says consumers have started shifting back towards shopping in store, although spending online remains high.

But in recent months, according to the ONS Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, people have cut back on food shopping as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.

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High street footfall down

High street footfall fell 25% in May 2022 compared with April, according to RSM UK’s analysis of the latest data from Datscha.

The biggest month-on-month decreases were seen in Glasgow (down 54%), Newcastle (down 40%) and Brighton (down 39%).

Footfall is still 48% lower than pre-pandemic levels, driven by London (down 68%), Newcastle (down 67%) and Glasgow (down 67%). London continues to be hit by hybrid working with less workers commuting into the city, and international and business travel is still not back at full capacity.

Train strikes coupled with weak consumer confidence affected footfall in major cities.

However, Guildford and Leeds bucked the trend, increasing 8% and 2% month on month, and were the only two cities to exceed pre-pandemic levels in May.

Jacqui Baker, partner and head of retail at RSM UK, comments: “This was the first month that consumers really felt the magnitude of various prices increases, such as energy and fuel. Consumer confidence also reached an all-time low of -41%. As a result, consumers are having to tighten their purse strings which we’re witnessing on the high streets.”

What’s happening online?

Online sales were in freefall in May but recovered slightly in June. Compared with June 2021, growth dipped just -2.3%.

According to the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks online sales for 200 retailers, the figure represents a slight levelling of sales as typical growth for this time of year is around +2-5%, putting this result at the low end of ‘normal’.

Elsewhere, after rising rapidly since January, the Average Basket Value (ABV) seems to have stabilised for the first time this year – dropping from April’s peak of £150 back to £145. This is still very high historically, suggesting that consumers continue to prioritise quality over quantity with their purchases.

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Consumers want local and trustworthy

According to the latest NielsenIQ study released mid-July, almost half of UK consumers (46%) say they’re buying a greater variety of brands than they were before Covid-19. Consumers are also largely in search of their perfect brand match, with 58% of UK respondents feeling that if they look hard enough, they can find a brand that fits their exact needs.

These findings appeared in the Brand Balancing Act, which focuses on how inflationary pressures are changing the way small and medium brands can justify their worth and remain aligned to the core values sought by consumers. The analysis also highlighted:

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Mood and wellbeing high on the consumer mind

Addressing emotional and mental wellbeing through mood management, stress relief and sleep aids has become a key trend in the food and nutrition space, according to Euromonitor.

Companies are exploring different ways to position their products in this space. For example, CBD-infused food and drinks, the use of adaptogens like ashwagandha and nootropics such as L-theanine are gaining momentum for their stress-reducing and mood-uplifting properties.

Another emerging trend gaining traction is functional food with a beauty positioning. More consumers are taking an interest in products that promise to deliver beauty from within, creating opportunities in edible beauty.

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Study adds to list of long Covid symptoms

Long Covid sufferers have experienced a wider set of symptoms than previously thought including hair loss and sexual dysfunction, new research has found.

A study published in Nature Medicine found that patients with a primary care record of infection with the virus that causes Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus) reported 62 symptoms much more frequently 12 weeks after initial infection. This is compared to patients who hadn’t contracted the virus.

The anonymised electronic health records of 2.4m people in the UK were analysed by researchers from the University of Birmingham alongside a team of clinicians and researchers across England.

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