How our changing home life is changing how we buy and store pantry items

The acquisition and storage of food and household goods has been a roller-coaster ride for American families the past year. So what does this mean for the future of the pantry? What should brands do to prepare?

The author(s)

  • Karin O'Neill Senior Vice President, US, Ipsos UU
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The first and most critical question: Which of these changed behaviors are likely to stick once the pandemic is over? We’ve gained several clues via ethnography and quantitative surveys, including:

  • Being at home more for work and school, resulting in multi-functional use of space and increasing the amount of goods needed on hand.
  • Shopping online more often (50%) to avoid store trips.
  • Buying and trying different brands on the shelves when the usual product isn’t available.
  • Stocking up on paper products, cleaning supplies and staples, due to product shortages or reduced ability to get to the store, leading to storage of greater quantities in unusual spots.
  • Cooking at home more often, sometimes for entertainment, other times out of necessity.

Ipsos layers behavioral science principles onto qualitative and quantitative learning to identify habits with staying power. For example, many people are discovering rewards to working from home—like saving time or money—that will last beyond the pandemic. So it is likely that there will be more home office days in the future, requiring more food and staples than before the pandemic.

Similarly, people are finding convenience in online delivery that is likely to factor into their future purchasing. This new trial could be a boon for brands: The brand is now available in the home, and if it satisfies the need, shoppers may add it to their future consideration set.

Buying in bulk, on the other hand, appears to be a short-term habit driven by cues that won’t last. We have already seen some Ipsos ethnography panelists stop this behavior. Cooking at home is a mixed bag.

The cues of boredom or necessity will go away, but some panelists found rewards like enjoyment, identity and savings will spur them to cook more often than they did before the pandemic.

Just like the rest of us, the American pantry will not be the same post-pandemic. Brands can connect with consumers and plan now to secure their spot in the pantry of the future.

This article was originally published in What the Future Housing. Click here to download a full copy of our magazine.

The author(s)

  • Karin O'Neill Senior Vice President, US, Ipsos UU

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