Channel Pulse: The Battle Between Price and Quality, as Recipe Boxes Rise in Popularity

Week four of Channel Pulse (w/c 13 April 2020) – our weekly measure of consumer and shopper behaviour across all UK food and drink channels – has arrived. Here are some of the headlines as the UK enters its fifth week of lockdown:

Consumer habits continue to change

After four weeks of lockdown, you might expect consumers to be settling into some sort of new routine, however we are seeing ongoing changes in shopping habits as consumers navigate this unprecedented situation.

This is illustrated if we look at channel share by daypart. Grocery in store has lost 2ppt share of breakfast occasions, whilst grocery delivered has gained a 2ppt share. Last week, grocery delivered gained share of snack occasions whilst grocery in store saw a decline. This week, we have seen a reversal of this, highlighting that consumers shopping habits are changing weekly in the current climate.

Price vs. Quality

With confirmation that lockdown measures will remain in place for at least another three weeks, consumers are understandably increasingly concerned about how long this situation will continue for. As a result, we expect to see an increasing proportion being conscious of their spending. In line with this, price is now the primary or secondary consumer need across all dayparts, with a strong increase for the snack occasion in particular.

However, despite the importance of price, quality was one of the fastest growing consumer needs in the w/c 13 April 2020, suggesting that not all consumers are willing to sacrifice quality in their quest for cheaper prices.  Quality saw its biggest jump in importance at both dinner and snack, with an increase of 4ppts for both of these dayparts.

The rise of the recipe box

As well as providing much needed inspiration as lockdown continues, recipe boxes are a great way of ensuring you have the correct ingredients to make a meal. This is reflected in the strong performance of recipe box brand Gousto, which saw an increase in penetration of 7ppts within the meal delivery channel week-on-week. This increase could be at the expense of foodservice delivery providers, with Deliveroo and Just Eat both recording a decline in participation.

Foodservice delivery usage to fall in the coming week

Once again, highlighting the volatility of consumer behaviour week to week, we are expecting to see reduced usage of foodservice delivery/takeaway in the coming week, following an uptick last week. Given that the biggest barrier to usage is expense (25%), this could once again reflect consumer concerns about spending on discretionary items.   

Meanwhile, for the fourth consecutive week in a row, convenience stores, supermarkets and online retailers (in that order) are predicted to see increased usage in the coming week.


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