One Blog |July 13, 2020 | Blog

The New Normal Shopper — Post COVID-19

Mark Fullerton

A lot of shopping habits have changed since the “COVID-19 Shutdown” in March of this year. Most of us live close to our go-to “grocery store” — some of us even live within walking distance of a supermarket. The thing is, a lot of us have changed our shopping habits even though we’re often close to our old standby store. Since Kroger is headquartered in Cincinnati, I’ll be basing much of what follows on my observations of Kroger shoppers’ behavior since most of the country started staying at home and now that we’re starting to once again venture out.  


Virtually all shopper research has concluded that shoppers have greatly increased their online shopping since March.  Moreover, many shoppers who had previously made multiple smaller frequent shopping trips ramped up their shopping behavior to favor fewer large weekly or semi-monthly shopping trips presumably to avoid coming into contact with potential Coronavirus sources. 


Most supermarkets of size now offer delivery services — for a relatively small fee — and, increasingly, it is possible to fill your virtual shopping cart online and drive to the store where groceries, including customers’ beverage-alcohol (BA) choices, are loaded into their vehicles.

The good news (for BA distributors) is that during the lock-down, people drank more at home, deprived as they were of bars and restaurants. The current news — now that the lock-downs are slowly and cautiously being lifted — is that consumers are once again “getting out and about” meaning they are going to restaurants and bars but are also continuing to order online even as they return — hesitantly at times — to their go-to grocery stores.


So, what does all this mean to you, the beverage-alcohol wholesale distributor? Well, what it means is that the actual shopper for your products now has what almost seems like many more choices where (and how) to buy; shoppers almost certainly have realized that each choice before them has an advantage based on circumstances. Online ordering is great unless you need the product now. Going to the grocery store also is a great choice but often doesn’t provide the variety of brands and products in every category shoppers want.


What this surely means, especially when coupled with our current TV (often streaming) viewing habits — where there are fewer and fewer opportunities for the consumers of your products to see commercials — is that once again POS has emerged as the best, most effective, and most efficient media to get your message across. The consumer of most beverage-alcohol products will seek product information at the point of shopping (off-premise) or at the point of sipping (on-premise).  What we’re seeing is that the shopper of beverage-alcohol products has become more fragmented — in where, when, and how they shop — than at any other time.  Yet, it should be noted that even though shoppers behave differently now than they did before the pandemic’s start, even now almost half of shoppers are shopping “traditionally” — i.e., weekly or bi-weekly “big trips” to their big grocery stores or supermarkets.


To address shoppers’ fragmentation, measuring your POS initiatives effectivity and efficiency — i.e., your POS Campaigns’ ROI — is critical. Knowing the impact of your fragmented POS programs is difficult, perhaps impossible, without a system that can track your POS from ordering to placement to ROI.


Increasingly, POS ordering systems are being brought to market that only addresses one aspect of the POS life-cycle: Ordering. It is, now more than ever, of the utmost importance to be able to measure the impact of your POS promotions including the correlation between POS spend, placement, and market share (or lift). Only a system that can provide ordering and placement (tracking) data and measurement of results will facilitate determining and managing your POS initiatives’ ROI.


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