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Coca-Cola Restaurants will have to Fight to Get and Keep Customers
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There is no doubt that closing down all restaurants for a short time and many for a long time has hurt the restaurant industry. Now Datassential revealed that 10.2 % of U.S. food outlets have closed down permanently.

Recent stimulus checks will help spur restaurant sales for a short period of time.  However, the 15% temporary increase in food stamp (SNAP) benefits that last through September will be a strong headwind for 38 Million Households still receiving assistance according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

The Coca-Cola Co. recently found that, consumers will continue to focus on health, at-home moments, comfort and indulgence, e-commerce, and value. Here let’s take a look at what Coca-Cola Refreshing Insights: The State of the Consumer, Retail & FSOP, found:

1. Focus on health

As the pandemic continued to evolve in 2020, so did consumers' opinions regarding their health and the corresponding impact on their purchasing behavior. In March 2020, 42 percent of consumers disagreed with the following statement: "Even if I end up getting COVID-19, I won't worry because I am very healthy." In October 2020, this increased to 66 percent of consumers.

Consumers began looking to hygiene to protect their health, which impacted purchasing behavior, especially when it came to food. According to The Coca-Cola Co, purchase consideration rises when retailers and restaurants enact specific safety measures to protect consumers:

Pre-wrapped items — 40 percent

Clean and well-maintained food and beverage areas — 38 percent

Disinfecting wipes made available — 37 percent

Minimize touching handles and other surfaces — 33 percent

Products behind a transparent barrier — 29 percent

Items served by an employee — 21 percent

2. At-home moments

Home became the centralized hub to live, work and play during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer trends that Coca-Cola predicts to stay in the long-term include:

Work from home: 17 percent of consumers expect they will never resume working in an office

Meals at home: 55 percent of adults want to prepare meals at home instead of eating at restaurants even after COVID-19 is not a factor

Exercising at home: 213 percent increase in sales of exercise and fitness equipment

Home improvement: 42 percent of consumers are currently doing or planning to do a home improvement project

Focus on community: 49 percent of consumers stated they are buying from local businesses more than normal as a result of the coronavirus and 32 percent said they are more likely to choose a local/independent restaurant

3. Comfort & indulgence

Indulgence has not only become a social norm but also a perceived necessity as a way to cope and/or escape. Sixty percent of consumers are currently buying/interested in buying self-care items, while 56 percent of consumers are currently buying/interested in buying special treats for themselves or family members.

Consumers have also looked to food as a means to indulge and seek comfort through the pandemic. Many categories have experienced increased sales because of this sentiment, like snack foods (39 percent), ready-to-eat meals (30 percent), soft drinks (27 percent) and alcohol (20 percent).

4. E-commerce

Although the pre-pandemic world was largely defined by e-commerce, the coronavirus accelerated the digital platform from a convenience to a norm in 2020. According to Coca-Cola's research, 68 percent of consumers have ordered groceries online for home delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, while 39 percent used online grocery for the first time. Eighteen percent reported buying at least half of their groceries online — up from 8 percent in 2019.

The pandemic fast-tracked the digital buying transformation that was underway well before 2020 by offering consumers a way to purchase the products and meals they need while avoiding increased exposure to the virus, according to Coca-Cola. Survey data shows that this trend will continue into a post-pandemic life: 90 percent of consumers will continue to buy food online once the pandemic is over and 77 percent of Americans enjoy the experience of shopping online.

5. Value re-defined

The COVID-19 pandemic and the events of 2020 have brought on an increase of mindful spending, supporting impacted works and social justice issues. Research showed that 43 percent of Americans say they will tip servers more than before to help restaurants and workers recover from the coronavirus.

For international corporate presentations, regional chain presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert, and public speaking will leave success clues for all. For more information visit, FoodserviceSolutions.US or call 1-253-759-7869.

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