Know More About Consumers as they Resume Pre-COVID Behaviors

CPG Normalization Index

Numerator’s CPG Normalization Index provides omnichannel visibility into consumer behavioral shifts and resets as the pandemic draws on. The tracker leverages monthly surveys of verified buyers to provide insights into how and why behaviors are evolving, particularly as it relates in-home and out-of-home consumption. It also tracks the purchase behavior of COVID Power Buyers— those with elevated at-home spend throughout the pandemic— in five key kitchen categories: Frozen Foods, Meat, Baking & Cooking, Herbs & Spices, and Paper & Plastic, to see how these buyers' behaviors evolve throughout reopening and beyond. 

The findings leverage RBC Capital’s Should Packaged Food Valuations be Reassessed report to also provide insights into how Wall Street is thinking about the future of CPG.

The combination of omnichannel purchase data and verified buyer surveys provides unique visibility and a deeper understanding of which pandemic-era buying behaviors have staying power, which are fading, and which are normalizing as some consumers resume pre-COVID behaviors & activities.

What's Covered

Consumer Sentiment Survey with Regional Cuts: 
This quick pulse survey of verified, recent buyers in one of five key kitchen categories (Frozen Foods, Meat, Baking & Cooking, Herbs & Spices, and Paper & Plastic) provides ongoing insight into consumer sentiments as they relate to cooking at home and eating out. Regional cuts provide deeper insights into how these sentiments vary across the country as compared to national consumer averages. The survey of 1,000 verified recent buyers will be updated monthly. 

Consumer Purchase Behavior: 
This longitudinal tracker indexes 3 key metrics (sales, households, and trips) in each kitchen category over 2020 and 2019 to provide a measure for how Power Buyers* are changing their behavior compared to COVID and pre-COVID baselines. The index compares rolling 4-week periods year over year and will be updated monthly.

*Power Buyers: consumers who were driven to eat at home at an increased rate due to COVID, defined as those whose aggregate buy rate across our key kitchen categories increased by 20% or more for the first 11 months of the pandemic (3/1/20 - 1/31/21), as compared to their spend in that same period one year ago. This group encompasses to over 30k households and is similar demographically to the general population.

Consumers dig into summer, with expected increases in restaurant visits and at-home cooking

Consumers seem to be building on the at-home habits they’ve adopted over the past year and enjoying newfound freedoms to gather with friends and family for shared meals. Despite half of consumers expecting to eat at restaurants more frequently in the coming months, at-home cooking is not likely to suffer; roughly one-third also expect to cook at home more frequently, and over half expect to cook at home at least as frequently as they are now. Southern consumers are the least likely to increase their restaurant visits compared to consumers in other regions, while Western consumers are most likely to increase their at-home cooking, as well as meal kit usages & ordering-in. 

In-store grocery shopping picks up steam, though online still satisfies consumer cravings

Although in-store shopping is slowly ticking back up as the preferred method for some shoppers, many consumers expect to stick online for the long run. While in-store shopping has remained the preferred method for getting groceries throughout COVID, it took a significant dip as consumers tried alternate shopping methods like curbside & in-store pickup, grocery delivery, and subscription services. Regionally, shoppers in the Western US have seen the highest adoption of online grocery shopping & subscription services.

Sales in key kitchen categories remain elevated vs. 2019 as consumers keep up COVID cooking habits

Among COVID Power Buyers— those who notably increased their grocery spend during the pandemic— sales of key kitchen categories remain elevated even as out-of-home activities reopen. While sales, trips and households shopping are down versus the major elevations seen last spring, they’re still significantly above 2019 levels. Herbs & Spices has seen the most significant decline in the past few months, as consumers slowly return to out-of-home behaviors and potentially move away from some of their at-home cooking activities.


Reach out to learn more about how consumers are navigating reopening

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