From e-commerce to local loyalty and from phygital stores to food delivery, the effects of changes in our eating habits brought about by the lockdown are here to stay.
The fog that made it impossible to realistically predict future evolutions at the height of the pandemic is beginning to clear. And we are starting to differentiate between passing fads and those that are instead here to stay. We have selected four of the most interesting trends that will probably come to characterise the new normal.
1. Local is best
The local formula has proved successful for the Italian economy in many sectors, from mechanics to fashion. And of course food too. According to the Intesa Sanpaolo ‘District Monitor’, in the first quarter of 2020 the exportation of regional Italian agro-food products reached 5.1 billion Euro, marking a 9.3% increase with respect to the same period in 2019 and exceeding the 8.1% growth recorded by the agro-food industry as a whole. And with consumers who are increasingly keen on authenticity and a return to our origins, we can be sure this trend will continue. Abroad, but also at home.
2. Increasingly specialised phygital stores
Digital giants such as Alibaba and Amazon are responsible for having launched the trend, or rather stores where classic in-person shopping is integrated with the advantages of the digital world, with no need to visit a cash desk for example. It was already clear that on-line sales king Bezos had something special in mind when he acquired Whole Foods, America’s largest supermarket chain dedicated to natural and organic produce. And now Amazon is launching a new concept known as Fresh, with a store in California that spans more than 32,000 m2 and where physical-digital integration is at the service of a focus on fresh produce. An insight into the stores of tomorrow.
3. E-commerce is not a fad
We’ve developed a taste for it. The push that Italy needed to reach European levels was undoubtedly brought about by the lockdown, but the numbers seem to show that Italians like e-commerce and intend to continue using it. According to data from the B2c Netcomm B2c eCommerce Observatory - Politecnico di Milano, by the end of 2020 the increase in digital sales will equate to 26% with respect to last year, bringing total spending to 22.7 billion Euro. And the period of enforced store closure has given the Food & Grocery sector a real boost, up by 56% for a total of 2.5 billion Euro.
4. Food Delivery, from a niche to a channel
According to the eCommerce Observatory, food delivery has grown by 19%, so by almost one fifth, during the lockdown. But although the pandemic has seen digital sales rise across the board thanks to various targets, will Italians carry this new trend forward into the new normal? Probably so, according to a survey by GfK, which reveals that 83% of those who have used on-line shopping services for the first time state they will continue to use them after the COVID pandemic. Now a fully-established channel, big names including Illy and Campari are working to enter the sector with direct initiatives or acquisitions.
Digitalisation, customer service and customisation, authenticity and the customer experience are just some of the key concepts on which markets will hinge in the near future.