It doesn’t seem very likely that the world will be free of COVID anytime soon. But between vaccines and more mild variants, it seems as though the world has just decided to re-engage. For most, it’s a sense that even if it were possible to live in confinement, that is just not the life that most of us would choose to live.
So we side on getting vaccinated and going on to live one’s life. For retailers, there is a new challenge: Having experienced online ordering, many consumers are in no rush to go back to personally shopping at a store. Perhaps it is no big deal for most supermarkets—after all, most have some online program, such as Instacart, and have been delivering for a long time. Yet there is a crucial dilemma in terms of how to introduce new products and how to entice people into trying what may be long-established products, but are not typically purchased by that consumer.
It is possible that conventional in-store shopping will rebound. There are typically fees and premiums with these online services and, if inflation continues and accelerates, one way to keep food costs down will be to take on the shopping tasks oneself. This may be crucial to those on fixed incomes.
Retailers, though, can’t go on automatic pilot and hope it all comes to pass. They need to think of ways to make shopping more than a chore. They need to create experiences that just can’t be duplicated over the internet—think demos and sampling, culinary adventures involving chefs introducing exotic foods and flavors.
It is a good plan for home entertaining, as well. In buying for ourselves and our families, most of us buy the tried-and-true… things we know our families will eat and enjoy. There is great satisfaction in this. Maybe you were introduced to that food or flavor by your mother or grandmother, and each bite is as filled with memories as it is with flavor.
Yet, in making memories for yourself, for your children, other family members and friends, you can consciously focus on broadening horizons by introducing the new, the unfamiliar and new twists on established favorites. With COVID, with the situation in Ukraine, there is the temptation to cower, but there also is the urge to liberate. So put out different cheeses, maybe put up some flags of the nations they come from… how about a printout of the map of where the cheese comes from? It might take a while to actually get there, but we can eat and celebrate right now.