Emerging retail trends – what consumers are looking for and how retail can deliver during the holiday season

woman grocery shoppingIt’s a crucial time for Canadian retailers and they’re looking to make an impact during the key holiday shopping period, especially now that pandemic restrictions have loosened in many Canadian regions.

Retail opportunities are knocking in the form of four key trends for retailers and foodservice operators to jump on as they ring in 2022. At the core of it all? Consumers want to support brands and purchase products that align with their own social, political, ethical and economical values. Retail Insider and Bakers Journal break down the trends for us:

1. Valuing and supporting employees:

While consumers want to support brands that openly value their employees, it’s more than brands simply stating that they “care about their people”. Consumers want to see mental health protections, diverse hiring practices and more when they shop in 2022.

2. Brands and companies who avoid “greenwashing”:

It’s not enough for today’s brands to simply have packaging and marketing that boasts “green” and “environmentally friendly” practices. Brands need to demonstrate and instill trust with consumers that their processes and practices are truly sustainable. According to Bakers Journal and its Top Ten Trends for 2022 via Innova Market Insights, when communicating with consumers, brands must “[meet] a clear, agreed and understandable measurement of their environmental and social impact” throughout the supply chain right down to grocery shelves. Peanuts have an incredible environmental and sustainability story to tell that retailers, foodservice and consumers can support.

3. Consumer awareness of the supply chain and price inflation:

This month, Loblaws Companies Ltd. and Metro Inc. released financial results which offered insight into the inflation pressures of Canada’s grocery industry. Factors like closing facilities and borders, rising transportation and fuel costs, labour shortages, and fires and droughts affecting crops, all contribute to supply chain challenges and price inflation. Prices for meat and dairy, for example, have increased dramatically throughout 2021, but produce isn’t immune to shortages. According to Goldman Sachs, over 30 million tons of cargo are waiting in U.S. ports, which is likely to result in continued product shortages going in to 2022.

With the supply chain impacted, and the cost of food continuing to rise into 2022, consumers are evolving their shopping habits. For instance, in a survey from Dalhousie Food Lab of over 10,000 Canadians, nearly half said they reduced their consumption of meat in the past six months due to rising costs. While reduced meat consumption bodes well for plant-based proteins like peanuts and peanut butter, it’s important to remember that these plant proteins are not immune to the impacts of the supply chain. In fact, CTV News reported in July that peanut butter had increased in price by 17% since January 2021.  

4. Reducing waste; and consuming in moderation

Recently, Innova’s Global Lifestyle & Attitude Survey from Bakers Journal found “consumers now rank the health of the planet as their number one concern”. This is the first time in the past few years that concern for the health of our planet has outranked concern for individual health. The same survey suggests “when it comes to food choices, the top two environmental actions people are taking are reducing waste (43% of respondents) and eating in moderation (32%)”.

While consumer demand for sustainable goods isn’t new, it’s certainly never been so pressing. Consumers are seeking out products with sustainable packaging, and focusing on adjusting their diet, like adopting a plant-based, vegan, or even the recently coined “climatarian”, diet, to help reduce waste and consume in moderation. Fortunately, consumers can choose peanut products, which contribute to a healthy plant-based lifestyle and is a naturally sustainable crop.

The pandemic has certainly shifted the grocery and retail space, and while it’s not over yet, it’s important to understand the demands, needs, and when it comes to rising costs, knowledge, of your customers to provide them with the best shopping experience possible in 2022.