Consumer behaviour has seen a massive topsy-turvy phase in the last few years. While 2020 and 2021 were disrupted due to Covid, 2022 was all about learning new ways to provide a pleasant shopping experience to customers who returned to retail stores. Year 2023 would come with its own set of spending and consumption behaviour changes, corresponding business challenges and opportunities.
Consumers are going to prioritise their needs, but at the same time try to make a positive impact on the world’s resources. Even though Covid has altered our way of living, health and safety will remain centrestage. Every other need would revolve around this. Consumers’ trust in brands would further enhance as brands try to constantly align themselves to meet the specific requirements without compromising their innate value system. Sustainability is going to be the word of the year making brands more environmentally conscious and demonstrate values which are ethically correct.
Buyers/consumers no longer believe in hoarding, they’ve rather become frugal with their purchases. They are going to buy limited things and consume only what is necessary, given the current economic condition globally. Impulsive buying will continue to remain a choice, but for the majority of the population, need-based purchase will increase causing a major shift in expectations and functioning of brands.
Brands too have already started making a shift in terms of reducing discounts/offers and focusing on unit economics and profitability, rather than just customer acquisition. This places a further emphasis on brands needing to better understand the needs, wants, and consumption behaviour of consumers to succeed in the short run.
Healthy and high-quality food will continue to remain a priority, this coupled with ease of cooking and lower costs presents both a challenge and an opportunity for brands in the coming year. Brands have reshaped and will be further reshaping their business models in order to align their values to the demands of the consumer.
F&B, and meat segment more so, will witness a further reorganisation in terms of players. As we are aware, the meat sector is highly unorganised and only a handful of organised players in recent times have tried to bring about some predictability, reliability, and repeatability to the segment. Discerning customers no longer want to purchase their fresh meat from the roadside butcher shop or unhygienic wet markets, rather they are keen to buy from brands whom they trust and from brands who are transparent about their supply chain. Accountability and traceability have become the need of the hour, and brands need to be responsible and accountable for every step involved in rearing and processing of meat. Complete control over the supply and retail chain will ensure end-to-end transparency and enable customers to display increased trust in brands.
With global recession at our doorstep, and increasing cost of living, the F&B and meat industry will be subjected to changes and challenges in 2023. Today’s consumers are looking for more than just top-quality products — they want quality consumer interactions, increased transparency and reliable ecommerce platforms and points of sale. How accurate is product availability online versus in distribution centres? How did a shift in production affect products? Communicating with customers through one channel versus using a mix of platforms and content marketing to reach them? All these questions play a huge part in deciding the success of brands.
Large brands are hoping to strike a balance between their conventional efforts and their smaller counterparts’ innovative methods. Leaner, newer brands can show big companies how to be nimbler in their operations, foster employee diversity, make minor changes to improve sustainability, build an online community through social media networking and strengthen e-commerce — matters that are important to consumers these days.
Fast-changing dynamics in the industry and shifting consumer preferences show that to maintain a healthy growth in the industry, companies need to gather information and collect actionable insights. This is key to not wasting their efforts and money, and for providing delightful experiences to customers.
(The author is Chief farmer, CEO & Founder, Nandu’s.)