New research reveals change in shopping habits due to Covid 19 in Ireland


Our Irish Partners FMI carried out an online and in person survey to gain insights into consumer shopping habits in Ireland. The purpose of the survey was to analyse consumer behaviour triggered by Covid-19, as well as to identify future trends within the grocery sector in Ireland. In total 800 respondents completed the survey across the Republic of Ireland, 65% of the respondents were woman and 35% male with 52% of respondents were aged between 35-54.

Of those surveyed 74% said they have changed their behaviour as a direct result of the pandemic. 

Findings show that 12% of shoppers only purchased from one retailer, and that 2-5% of shoppers surveyed stayed loyal to their choice of retailer. This highlights the growing importance of brand loyalty to retailers and the opportunity and value to be gained from engaging with their existing customers. 

We are living in unprecedented and uncertain times.  Throughout the pandemic the focus on communities and on supporting local has been a key message to encourage unity and to ensure the survival of small businesses. This is a point that particularly resonated with 86% of respondents aged 35 and above. Generation X and Y typically care more about sustainability, and the pandemic highlighted their wiliness to extend this to support local economies, while also recognising that having local amenities within walking distance is a lifeline for the elderly and vulnerable.

Having an online presence became critically important for any retailer during the pandemic. Without the freedom to simply pop to the shops, customers went online to source goods to meet their needs. This automatically puts digitally savvy retailers first in line. FMI’s research found that leading the online grocery shop is the female, 35-44-year-old demographic, with 10% having moved their grocery shop online for the first time, during the Coronavirus pandemic. Of those customers surveyed who moved online, 21% found the service to be good, yet only 1 in 5 of those are planning to continue to shop online in the future. This suggests that Ireland still has some way to go in converting consumers to shopping online only for grocery and it also suggests that Irish consumers are keen, and have the willingness, to enjoy the in-store shopping experience. 

The biggest change to shoppers habits during this period was that 56% of consumers felt they shopped less frequently yet 55% felt that their spend had increased during this period. 

Consumers aged 35-44 were most likely to report an increase in their shopping spend (72%), this is likely due to the fact that families were forced to stay at home during this period and parents were looking for new recipe ideas and inspiration for simple home cooked meals. Couples were having date nights at home and friends were hosting virtual dinner parties. 

Those that shopped more than once a week were 63% more likely to purchase more than they planned. Research also found that the age 65+ age bracket are less likely to impulse buy, with the 18-24 year old more likely to purchase more than planned.

Covid-19 may not have changed things forever, but it has certainly forced businesses to rethink their strategies and offerings. The current climate will prompt more marketers to realise the untapped value of their existing customers. Instead of reducing profit margins to acquire one-off customers, marketers should focus on brand-building and customer retention strategies that engage with happy customers for long-term results.

Those who have adapted to the changes are more likely to survive. The retail landscape is extremely competitive, and effective long-term strategies that easily enable you to meet consumers’ demands both in store and online will be vital for future growth. 

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