Three themes to explore in 2024: creating opportunity from New Zealand’s key grocery trends

Towards the end of last year, we ran the latest of our Consumer Pulse studies. Created as a way to keep track of changing shopper behaviours, the Pulse looks at everything from the most popular formats to a customer’s plans for the future. In the results of our New Zealand study specifically, we spotted three key trends, all of which have the potential to create big opportunities for the country’s suppliers.

Here, then, are three of the key issues to keep an eye on over the next 12 months, alongside our thoughts on how retail media can help you turn them to your advantage.


Opportunity #1: Tap in to the treating mindset

Everyone loves the occasional treat. Whether it’s a well-earned cheat day lolly, or a bag of chips to liven up a random Thursday, treats help to break up the routine and create little moments of joy. That’s particularly important right now, when many customers are having to cut back on larger expenses – more than a third of our Pulse respondents (39%) told us they’re eating at restaurants less often than they used to, for instance.

While treats are a relatively universal customer need, though, they’re particularly important in New Zealand. Almost half of the shoppers we spoke to in our last Consumer Pulse study (49%) told us that they “occasionally buy something special to treat themselves”. Not only is that the highest number seen in any of the countries we surveyed, it is significantly higher than the global average (36%), too.

For any supplier that operates in the “treating” space (and there’s an argument to say that most products can be a treat to the right person), this behaviour presents a clear opportunity. Kiwi customers are frequently in the mood to treat themselves, and all they really need is a nudge in the right direction.

That nudge needs to be effective, of course. Sleep shopping (where customers buy the same brands and items each week without even really thinking about it) is a well-documented behaviour1. To break people out of their default habits, suppliers need to engage them consistently and cohesively – at the shelf, across the store, and online as well.

This is where retail media plays a critical role. Whether it’s printed point-of-sale, digital screens, online banner ads, or one of the many other opportunities available, retail media gives brands a chance to communicate effectively across the entire shopping journey.


Opportunity #2: Think creatively about availability

From eggs and flour through to things like toilet paper and paracetamol, product availability was a major challenge during the Covid-19 pandemic. And, while the global supply chain has gradually begun to settle since the peak of the outbreak, the availability of certain products continues to be an issue for many New Zealanders.

One of the questions we asked in our most recent Pulse study asked shoppers to share their feelings and concerns about the current state of grocery. More than anything else – concerns about not getting the best prices (44%), for instance, or fears about the Ukrainian conflict’s impact on their shop (22%) – Kiwis said that they were most worried about the issue of out-of-stocks (49%). Women were particularly likely to feel this way.

Going back to the pandemic for a moment, one of the key tactics that shoppers used when faced with shortages was product swapping. If they weren’t able to get a pre-made pepperoni pizza, for example, they might have instead bought a margherita and sliced some salami on top. If sour cream wasn’t available, they might have turned to plain yoghurt instead.

For suppliers, retail media presents a great opportunity to embrace that creative spirit and position themselves as the perfect substitute for out-of-stock lines. Digital screens, for instance, offer a huge amount of agility in terms of creative expression. In almost no time at all, a supplier could spin up a campaign focused on “recipe hacks” – positioning their own products as a perfect sub in the face of mainstream shortages.

To do that well, of course, they also need data-driven insights – not just to help them predict possible product shortages, but to understand how best to position themselves as an alternative too. The same principle works in reverse, too; if you’re experiencing supply issues of your own, dialling down any pre-planned retail media activity will ensure that customers aren’t disappointed when they can’t actually buy your goods.


Opportunity #3: Boost your small business with retail media

New Zealand’s grocery shoppers are pretty clear about their plans for the year ahead. Value is one of their key priorities, for example, with a quarter saying that they’ll be on the lookout for coupons on the products they buy regularly (25%). Wellbeing is another key focus, with a similar number stating that they intend to buy more vitamins and other health-related goods (23%).

Of all their future plans, however, nothing is quite as important as the prospect of shopping local. Almost a third (30%) said that one of their big goals for the future is to spend more on products that come from nearby farms and businesses, a fact that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering how many shoppers also say that they’re conscious about the environment (47%).

It goes without saying that this is good news for the country’s local and regional suppliers. What is more interesting, however, is what this means from the perspective of shopper engagement. In the grocery industry today, there tends to be an assumption that retail media is only relevant for those companies at the larger end of the scale. In reality, retail media can be just as effective for smaller producers too.

Big or small, one of the most attractive elements of retail media for a supplier is the level of precision that it offers. Because it’s built on a foundation of customer data, retail media makes it possible for advertisers to focus specifically on those shoppers who are most likely to purchase their products. For local suppliers – with that sizeable, ready-made audience waiting in the wings – that should make retail media an irresistible opportunity in 2024.

Would you like to know more about how to tap into these three key trends? We can help.

Please get in touch.


1 Do shoppers choose the same brand on the next trip when facing the same context? An empirical investigation in FMCG retailing – Koll and Plank, Journal of Retailing, Volume 98, Issue 4, December 2022, Pages 576-592

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