TWC TRENDS SPRING 2021 Report highlights key market forces for Wholesale in the years’ ahead.

Launching its inaugural TWC Trends Spring 2021 Report, leading intelligence and technology consultancy TWC has revealed some key factors in the future of Wholesale and urged businesses to consider these in their forward planning.

The TWC Trends Spring 2021 Report is one of the most comprehensive studies seen this year looking into consumers’ changing behaviours and buying patterns. According to TWC’s Tom Fender, there are three market forces which will drive permanent change across Wholesale and the route to market sectors.

Fender said: “The last year has been in the words of Sharon White of the John Lewis Partnership “A real economic earthquake” where we are seeing decades worth of change in the space of 12 months.  Shopping habits have changed irreversibly.

“Here at TWC, we predict that this change in behaviour will continue for years to come. These changes have important implications for our industry and this report highlights some of the opportunities and threats, which Wholesalers, Retailers and Suppliers need to consider as we all adapt to this new normal.

“The three driving market forces which are set to have a major influence are firstly; our increasingly hyper connected world.  Secondly, the increasingly polarised economy, and lastly, Millenials and Gen Z becoming workers and earners, activists and spenders.

“We believe that shifts are happening so gradually that they are almost imperceptible but that, over time, they could threaten the very role of Wholesale, its customers and suppliers. Our aim is to call them out so that our industry can build a plan to survive and thrive.

“And, our TWC Trends’ consumer research indicates that the wholesale sector has a pivotal role to play in educating retailers of emerging trends impacting this channel from hybrid stores to healthier eating to ensure convenience retail is fit for the future.

“Wholesale has a poor track record for leaping onto emerging trends but to ensure that independent hospitality and retail can keep pace it is essential that wholesalers lead the way on communicating these trends and offer ranges to support these consumer needs.”

In the report TWC has segmented shifting trends into five themes that wholesalers should consider focusing upon, and gives clear indicators of what the future holds and explores how wholesalers, along with retailers, hospitality and the supply chain can adapt to thrive.  The five themes are:

  1. Online Explosion
    The Digitalisation and Delivery of Food and Drink and the impact on Convenience and Foodservice
  1. Experiential Hospitality & ‘Retailtainment’
    Re-thinking the role of bricks and mortar as customers seek personalised, engaging experiences out of home.
  1. Do Good Feel Good.
    Working for a Better World. Social Impact and wellbeing influences consumer choices.
  1. Data & Personalisation.
    Data is the new oil – one size does not fit all.
  2. Save v Splurge
    Balancing value as well as premiumisation to meet divergent customer needs.

TWC believes that the new habits consumers have learned around shopping online are now engrained. Online operators have got more efficient, and the experience has improved significantly over the last 12 months. Unemotional purchases, simple product choices and regularly purchased items are more likely to be purchased online from now on than prior to the Pandemic.

Furthermore, TWC Trends data showed that Amazon could be the 5th largest supermarket in the UK if current shoppers swapped just one grocery shop per month.

Fender says: “At the start of lockdown, online account for 7% of total UK Food purchases.  It is now 16%.  Amazon share of UK online is 3%, Ocado 14% and Tesco 30%.  If those 61% that regularly shop with Amazon did 1 big grocery shop per month at say £40 – its market share would be 7% (which is bigger than Co-Op).

“Don’t let’s forget that Gen X have a higher penetration of regular Amazon shoppers with 66% and 63% of us regularly use Amazon to find the cheapest price.

“Here at TWC, we believe that although Amazon is discussed a lot as a threat to our channel, the fact

that 72% of the population has an account really emphasizes that threat. But it is now a double threat with the launch of Amazon Fresh and a triple threat with its investment in Deliveroo.

Their online platform may not impress Gen Z but their food to go and delivery solutions are sure to be winning hearts and minds in this consumer cohort”.

What we are most impressed with is the knowledge Amazon has on its customers which all comes from an obsession to gather, analyse and interpret data. This is something which many people in retail overlook. It is the fuel of their engine!

As part of its study, TWC looked at consumer online usage over the last 12 months and found that over one third of the popular ordered their groceries online, whilst only 5% ordered from a convenience store online. Overall, grocery shopping did see larger baskets, reduced shopping frequency and a surge in online and deliveries with consumers shifting to stores closer to home.

Under lockdown it will come as no surprise that ‘on the go’ consumption occasions reduced against the converse growth in take home and take away consumption.

Fender concludes: “This report deliberately focusses on the long-term impacts on consumer behaviour. We believe that the immediate after-shocks of Covid-19 have been copiously covered and the industry has a firm grasp of the likely sales patterns for 2021.

“Meanwhile, there is a paucity of analysis of the seismic shifts that are taking place beneath the surface that will fundamentally and irrevocably change our sector.”

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