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Where Nostalgia and Practicality Meet This Holiday Season

New insights from Kroger’s 84.51° arm point to less brand loyalty as festivities resume
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Holiday shopping
Kroger's 84.51° data group is out with a new whitepaper on the 2022 holiday season.

If the holidays in 2020 and 2021 were disruptive compared to previous years, 2022 is shaping up to be its own kind of different season. That’s the conclusion from one of several recently released reports predicting yet another non-traditional year for holiday merchandisers.

According to a new whitepaper from 84.51°, while consumers are looking forward to post-pandemic celebrations and expect to celebrate with more guests, the broader challenges of supply chain shortages and inflation are expected to impact shopping behavior this season. The Cincinnati-based retail data science, insights and media company that works with The Kroger Co. and its partners pointed out that inflation has spurred shoppers of all income levels to already spend the same per month on groceries as they did during the previous holiday seasons, making an even larger spend increase likely this time around.

[Read more: "Healthy Holiday Eating on a Budget"]

The whitepaper also underscores the point that households are picking up less units and cutting back on “nice to have” items, especially those who just “dabble” in e-commerce. A majority of 57% of respondents said that they are looking for sales, deals and coupons more often as prices have risen.

“If we can expect households to spend more this holiday but pick up fewer units, it’s even more important for brands to make it into customers’ baskets by pulling creative levers to help shoppers save money. Brands can prioritize strategies that drive basket building, including meal solutions, bundles,” the report asserts.

What about brand loyalty during a season that’s particularly tied to nostalgia and tradition? 84.51°’s insights affirm some allegiances, but found that there is room for new marketing opportunities, especially as the pandemic and supply chain bottlenecks caused shoppers to try new or unfamiliar products over the past couple of years. A good number 45% of shoppers don't feel they need to buy a specific brand of holiday food.

That said, consumers do tend to be more brand loyalty to “centerpiece” items for holiday meals, like turkey, ham and stuffing. Up to 30% of shoppers are loyal to a particular turkey brand, the whitepaper found.  

There is also a tug toward tradition when it comes to preparation: 84% of shoppers prefer to make mashed potatoes from scratch, 79% want to make their own green bean casserole and 72% expect to cook sweet potatoes instead of buying them pre-made.

As for channel behavior, people like to buy certain holiday staples, including turkey, in-store. A mere 18% report that they purchase their center-of-the-plate holiday bird online.

In all, the whitepaper suggests that retailers and CPGs be mindful of consumer’s own mindfulness as the holidays arrive. “From driving units and trade-up to having a strong strategy across modalities and helping cash-strapped customers save money, the brands that activate and prioritize different levers with today’s current environment in mind are the ones that will win,” the authors conclude.

The full whitepaper is available online.

Serving 60 million households annually nationwide through a digital shopping experience, and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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