True Media Canada COVID-19 Media Impact, Part 3

Posted on April 15th, 2020 by True Media
Key Takeaways:
  • Re-think how to sell to customers with social distancing measures and worry of the unknowns (i.e. strengthen eComm, over-communicate with customers on what their options are for buying).
  • Be where the customers are to stay top-of-mind, even if they are mostly focused on essential goods.
  • COVID-19 is a disruptive time that gives brands the chance to deepen the connection with current consumers or to develop a relationship with a new customer. Better to have relevant and more emotional advertising/messaging in the market than nothing at all to be top-of-mind. This is a time when new habits could be made.

Now that it has been a few weeks of limited movement with fridges become sparse, we were interested in understanding how principal grocery shoppers and meal planners are adjusting to the new normal.

With limited outings, line-ups at grocery stores and a house full of family looking for home cooked meals and variety it has not been an easy adjustment. From the data, we have seen that people are list making, sourcing new recipes and then checking for ingredients. They are meal planning for several days at a time and stocking up at the supermarket.

The online food and lifestyle category saw weekly time spent go up 27% from Feb 3 to 9, and then an additional 44% from March 2 to 8. Again, list making, recipe exploration and meal fatigue are setting in.

One not surprising change in behavior, is the pivot to online grocery ordering. Canadians have been behind the curve in both online grocery and e-commerce. Will this be a permanent change or will we return to “social” shopping and welcome seeing/feeling produce and meeting with store owners/staff?

The Food & Beverage category, which has the lowest penetration within eComm sales, has been forecasted in early 2020 to be the fastest growing. We anticipate this number to surge with the growing demand for grocery eComm, especially with the momentum coming from the mandate to stay at home, limitation of essential services and the inconveniences caused by the new rules implemented for safe shopping (i.e. limiting number of people in stores; reduced store hours for sanitization and re-stocking; alternative shopping options like curb-side pickup that doesn’t allow for product discovery in stores). Grocery eComm habits could be made during these unprecedented situations, which could pave way for continued traction even after COVID-19.

Household essential purchases are key as people prepare to stay at home for extended periods. Once COVID-19 became mass news, the Health category had the greatest spike in likelihood for purchase.

By March 15 (after the World Health Organization announced COVID-19 as a global pandemic on March 11), overall spending likelihood increased, particularly in the food, dollar, club, mass and liquor categories.

People may over-stock both online and in brick- and-mortar due to the many unknowns. eComm giant Amazon is delaying delivery of items deemed as “non-essential” to focus on ensuring essential goods arrive in a timely manner. Amazon said that it would only stock items in six essential categories: baby products, health and household, beauty and personal care, grocery, industrial and scientific and pet supplies. If COVID-19 spreads even more and overwhelms the industry infrastructure, Amazon may stop taking orders for non-essentials beyond just France and Italy.

Overall, online shopping is on the rise as consumers are maneuvering through this new normal. One of the main Canadian media conglomerates, Rogers, has seen a 53% increase in interactions and a 21% increase in checkouts from their Contobox Shoppable Units (discovery display units that act like a microsite). Also, there has been significant visit increases to Today’s Shopping Choice especially in the electronics and health & fitness categories – its demand is from mobile devices which is up 49.7% overall and 81.6% during the workday (9-6pm).