Sanet Yelland
Sanet Yelland

#NEXT2022: Shopper consumption behaviour post-pandemic

by Sanet Yelland. The shift towards mindful and conscious consumption by consumers will mean retailers and brands need to provide sustainable options.

by Sanet Yelland. The idea of ‘anti-behaviour’ becoming a ‘cool factor’ in the non-drinking sphere, was addressed recently in an article I read recently. It highlighted how influencers use Instagram to detail zero alcohol’s coolness and the mindset shift to more mindful consumption. “Young women… are on a mission to prove it’s ‘cool’ not to drink; and that ditching alcohol can even help women achieve self-care and empowerment”.

The key insight is that the ‘NO stance’ represents a stance for so much more; and that can shift behaviour far more powerfully in the long run for brands and retailers in key consumption opportunities. Spiros Malandrakis, the head of alcohol research at Euromonitor, says part of the reason non-alcoholic alternatives are taking off is due to the ‘Instagram effect’, or the idea that people holding the drink are sending a message about their personal brands. Saying ‘no thanks’, carries weight for many influencers who can shape the potential spending of brands and categories.

Conscious consumption shift movement

Shifting narratives to mindful consumption and embracing a lifestyle of ‘less is more’ through changed behaviours and products that represent leading a better lifestyle, will have an impact on the level of preparation that both retailers and brands need to take on for the post-pandemic shift in the new year. While brands may feel the initial shock of more mindful shopping in less spend outlays, there are bigger opportunities to reshape behaviours for the better in the long run. By seeing this as a chance to redefine your customer narrative and shopper experience, you can forge deeper, more authentic bonds with shoppers as they are formed off the foundations of better product and service deliveries.

Shopper retail opportunities
  • New shopper sustainability missions: The shift towards a mindful and conscious consumption signals a concerted effort required from brands and retailers to bring better and more sustainable products and services into the purchasing sphere; and being responsible about sourcing and ethical practices on production in trade market places. Consumers are increasingly seeking levels of transparency and viability in the products they consume and choose to include in their daily lifestyles, and will follow retailers and brands that can align to this.
  • Changes in consumption ‘moments’: Retailers need to be aware that shoppers may not have clearly defined consumption moments, but rather choose to integrate products and services into more holistic wellness and lifestyle drivers. For example, simple practices like traditional meal time formats are changing with work from home habits entrenched, and retailers and brands will need to cater products that can deliver on this.
  • Opportunities for reshaping categories: The pandemic behaviours we saw will remain entrenched where they served conscious value, education and safety to consumers and shoppers. This provides an opportunity for brands and retailers to ensure that they elevate and differentiate within these behaviours. A good example is how Woolworths has defined its categories and products through, Make it Mindful – Make it Woolies.
  • Beyond the product, placement and price: Retailers and brands have a broader responsibility to develop initiatives that can help create better behaviours in shoppers and drive economic value to enable better consumption cycles and entrench new habits that benefit wider communities. A good example is the recycling Checkers Sixty60 paper bag.

Driving conscious consumption efforts aligned to better products, services and values that shoppers have required in their purchasing behaviour patterns from the last two years can help retail brands prepare for a better post-pandemic retail reality in 2022. The innovation and differentiation will be how this is served up to shoppers to create new value streams beyond a single transaction and drive more loyalty in the purchase of products.

Conscious consumption choices

Key things to consider in reshaping mindful consumption behaviours, are:

1. Program authenticity: Change in action and behaviour needs to come from a deeper commitment for sustainable behaviour change. The best programs are long-term investments that can be scaled effectively year after year with continuous improvements and rallying shoppers to get behind the cause.

2. Making conscious consumption choices ‘shoppable’: Too often, good products and even better solutions are not adopted as readily by shoppers because the immediate tangible benefit and solution are not always clear. Understanding how to package shopper solutions to mindful choices and benefits is critical to retailers driving purposeful solutions that are consumed repeatedly.

Whether retailers aim to reach consumers who thrive on the joys of consumption, or conscious consumers seeking to pare down their purchases, brands must authentically and consistently represent themselves in their marketing and advertising. Shoppers will be looking towards brands and retailers that can meaningfully align with their lifestyles, personalities, and values and help to reshape new behaviours by setting a precedent for doing better.



Consumers are increasingly seeking levels of transparency and viability in the products they consume and choose to include in their daily lifestyles, and will follow retailers and brands that can align to this.


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Sanet Yelland is the CEO and founder of Streamline Advertising, a full service agency. She has worked across the industry for 30 years, on clients within financial services, wholesale, retail, FMCG and government sectors on notable brands, including Massmart, Dis-chem, SAA, City of Johannesburg, Nedbank, Absa Bank, and Pick ‘n Pay (Score Supermarkets and RiteValue brands). Yelland started the Young Community Shapers initiative in 2000. This project acknowledges and celebrates the achievements of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds by providing funding, bursaries, and mentorship.


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