What do you think will be the biggest emerging trends in wholesaling in 2022?

Online penetration will remain elevated and continue to grow (circa 30% of total sales). Retailer apps and online will continue to increase in importance. An affordable one stop solution will be key for retailers. A quality range of food to go items drives basket spend and frequency. Sustainability has secured its permanent agenda spot, suburban stores will see growth due to WFH, while other trends will include wellbeing, value and connections & occasions.

Simon King, Senior Business Development Manager – Confectionery, Soft Drinks, Beers, Wines & Spirits at Confex.

What will be the key categories to watch out for?

Soft drinks which provide functional stimulation will be key, as will be grocery, healthy snacking and chilled coffee (a £200m category growing +30% YoY). Confectionery suppliers are continuing to see demand for ‘sharing’ pack types. Chocolate multipacks and bags are still leading the way and driving growth.

How can wholesalers best prepare for 2022?

By adapting to emerging trends such as online/digital and being well stocked with the right variety/mix of products. They should ensure a wide range of products, covering high quality grocery and emerging trends. They can work with suppliers on building a robust forecast and stay aligned with suppliers to maximise core range and NPD opportunities. Stay close to your customers’ needs and stay close to the advancements in technology.

Do you think online shopping will increase over the next year?

Yes, insights show that online shopping is still driving the most growth within the market. Convenience will continue to be key. Retailers and wholesalers must react and increase their presence through social media and digital offering.

Do consumers still love local shopping?

Absolutely! Again convenience is key. But retailers must engage with the local community and find ways to support them.

Will wholesalers need to make better use of technology to survive?

Not necessarily, every wholesale customer is different so it’s important to recognise that some will be more reliant on technology than others. However, customers are now looking for convenience and ease whilst purchasing products so the ones which adapt now will win. New technologies and fast evolving processes are allowing new competitors to emerge with alternative, like business models, including Amazon.

Wholesalers will need to play smart in this arena. The importance is engagement with retailers and shoppers – whether embracing technology through apps, or telesales and reps/account managers.

Will consumers stay in more and will there consequently be more products aimed at in-home consumption?

Yes, it’s important to recognise that the cost of living is going up and this inflationary impact will mean that consumers will likely look at ways to save cost. This will likely mean that suppliers will increase their “drink later” offering to tap in to the in-home consumption opportunity in soft drinks, snacks and grocery. I think there will be a healthy mix of people still enjoying ‘big nights in’ as well as enjoying OOH occasions. Being with family/friends and eating in a nice surrounding has ranked as a top priority now. Catering to both will be important. Both a good impulse and take home range is essential for retailers.

Will healthy eating and wellness be even bigger trends in 2022?

Yes, there are numerous Government-led /consumer-led changes which are emerging such as the HFSS scheme due to be implemented in October 2022. Consumers are becoming more health conscious with exercise frequency increasing as well as changes in consumption choice. The pandemic has made consumers think differently about their health and as a result are investing more time and money to look after themselves both physically and mentally. Health will continue to be high on the agenda for many shoppers and availability on healthy options is important. But ‘feeling good’ is also high on shopper agenda and budgets are likely to be tight. Therefore home treats will continue to be important too.

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