As the temperature rises and COVID-19 restrictions continue to go the wayside, how are you preparing for Summer of 2022? Barbecues will be booming, pool parties prospering, and cookouts commencing. Shopping lists will be switching to beers and burgers, while roast and red wines will hibernate until the first sign of crisp cool air returns.
Famous Country singer, Eric Church, put it nicely when he said, “All you gotta do is put a drink in my hand.” Summertime has always called for a beer by the pool, but now when we go to the grocery store, we have options such as seltzers, shandys, hard sodas, and more. One of my favorite drinks in the summer used to be a Corona and lime. But now Bud Light and Michelob have their own lime infused beer and I don’t even have to buy a lime. I personally prefer a beer most days, but what has really caught on are seltzers. With more and more companies producing their own version of alcoholic seltzer, it has become clear that this isn’t a seasonal fad or a drink made specifically for women. There is a flavor and ABV (alcohol by volume) for everyone. Seltzer and beer companies will have to figure out how to make their product stand out as an abundance of different seltzers stock the shelves.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have become more educated on the health and nutritional value in food. Going out to eat has been on the decline and people have been buying higher quality products in stores. This summer we expect to see an uptick in organic or pasture raised meats, plant-based packaged products including vegan hamburgers and hot dogs, and gluten free buns and bread. Grilling will always be a staple of the summer, but everyone doesn’t want a medium rare beef hamburger anymore or a hotdog filled with, well, filled with whatever hotdogs are filled with. Consumers will choose options that suit their lifestyle like the Impossible Burger or the Everything Legendary Burger as seen on Shark Tank. Packaged goods that advertise their nutrition along with their great taste will grow over the summer.
Value brands will have their moment in the sun this summer. Inflation is affecting grocery stores and consumers alike as supply chain issues are raising their prices and the Consumer Price Index is up as high as 8% as compared to last year. This year we will see people sacrificing name-brand packaged goods for value brands if the price exceeds what they are able to, or willing to, pay.
Automation in grocery stores is growing leading to less cashiers and more self-check-out. At least once a week, someone in my town’s Facebook group will complain that there are no cashiers at Walmart and in the same breath complain of rising prices. Unfortunately, as prices continue to rise, stores must find ways to lower their overhead. Otherwise, they will pass on all of the cost to the consumer. Labor shortages are expected to rage on and inflation is not decreasing, so expect to see more self-check-out usage this coming summer as grocery stores try to keep their prices affordable and their customers coming back.
People will either by choice or necessity limit purchasing what they consider discretionary items at the grocery store. Discretionary is different for everyone and understanding how consumers make these instore decisions is crucial to keep your product selling. We may see decreased buying in the snack aisle and more perimeter shopping in the grocery store for customers trying to cut costs during this period of inflation. Eventually, we will see a decrease in costs at grocery stores but how are customers deciding what to buy and what to put back?
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