Shopping Small is More Than Just a Trend

Small brands, now is your time to shine. It may be cliche to say that 2020 shifted shopper’s behaviors in unprecedented ways – but that’s very much true. The past year has been a rollercoaster for the CPG industry. Between panic-buying, to the growing popularity of private brands, many shoppers are trying new brands and products – and for many, this means shopping small.

Large, national brands will forever be grocery staples. No matter what happens in the market, their spot on shelves is secured. But with consumer interests/trends rapidly fluctuating, and in times of scarce availability, smaller brands are able to fill a void that national brands can’t always reach.

Buying What is Available

According to a report by IRI, in 2020 the CPG industry grew approximately 10.3%, and one-third of that growth is attributed to smaller manufacturers. There are quite a few reasons as to why shopping small was a huge trend in the past year, but the main reason was the fluctuating (and often unreliable) stock in grocery stores. Late March through May is what we refer to as the “panic-buying phase) of the pandemic. Shoppers wanted to get in out of the store. They grabbed what they needed, and stocked up on essentials. But once panic buying started to greatly impact stock and availability, many shoppers were essentially forced to buy smaller brands that they may not have necessarily tried pre-pandemic.

This shift in availability gave smaller brands a chance to catch the eye of new customers – and many will be repeat customers. Small manufactures often (but not always) attract niche demographics. Their products offer benefits or ingredients that often not as mainstream as larger national brands. They cater to the health-focused, those with dietary preferences, and anyone looking for something new to try. This wide array of products, and the chance to take center stage on grocery shelves, introduced smaller brands to a much wider audience.

Keeping the Momentum

Although things have sort of settled down in the past month or so, shopping behaviors have yet to return to “normal” – and they may never. Grocery operations are still modified. Many manufactures are still playing catch-up with last summer’s demand. And customers are quickly shifting their focus to products that contribute positively to their overall health. However, small brands still have a chance to stay on top of shopper’s minds.

Connecting with customers online and in-store is key during this transitional period. Smaller brands have a unique position to do so through their digital marketing efforts. Their audience may be smaller, but they are ready to engage. Give customers a behind the scenes look into your brand. Show them the real people behind the products, and build connections to your core customers. Shopping small extends much further from just local retailers and artisans. Customers want to get to know the brands they love.

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