The motives and behaviour changes of consumers in food retail’s ‘new normal’

5 themes retailers must consider to stay relevant after COVID-19 

Will the consumer changes in motives and behaviour caused by COVID-19 be temporary or permanent? And, what can food retailers do to bring their customer some relief in these challenging times? We studied consumers around the globe so that we continue to offer our clients, the leading food retailers, top of the bill strategic loyalty- and digital- services while they face one of their most challenging times. 

Why our study is unique: 

  • Globally relevant perspective: across 27 countries through our unique global network in food retail 

  • Cause & effect: focus on qualitative insights to find the why beyond the what 

  • Call to action: recommendations and ready-to-use solutions on how retailers should leverage the insights 

  • Tailored: option to tailor to your specific consumer or market 

The comparison between the behaviour and motivations of consumers worldwide before and since COVID-19 has resulted in consumer behaviour changes related to the following overlapping themes: 

  1. The new health

  2. Nostalgia 

  3. Home-made 

  4. Experience of digital and physical services 

  5. Rise of local and community 

The drivers behind all consumer behavioural changes are explained through the principles of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The five levels in this model are all different motivations of human needs. Per level, you will find explanations, examples, illustrative stories, quotes and why they matter to consumers.   

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According to Maslow’s theory, people need to satisfy the lower needs first and will then naturally progress on to a higher level. When a level is fulfilled, it means a person created habits or a system around it and is motivated to fulfil the next need. The lower levels can be labelled as the more basic or grounding needs, while the higher levels are more focused on advanced needs. Depending on personal circumstances in someone’s life, that person may go back to reconsider their needs. And that is exactly what COVID-19 made sure of we all did; every single person re-evaluated all levels of Maslow’s pyramid to make sure that their lifestyle and (purchase) behaviour still fulfils their needs in their new everyday (corona) context. 


Since the impact of the crisis is so immense it will take a while before consumers will go up to the higher levels of the pyramid again. Retailers must consider how their offer and services comply with consumers' new normal of the 3 lowest levels of the pyramid.  

How can food retailers best respond now? We can help every food retailer with tailored relevant concepts for the new normal. 

Read all about it in our COVID-19 report. Want to receive a free copy in your mailbox? 

Give us a shout at  

We hope you will enjoy the peek through the ‘new normal’ lens!  

Cheers from your editorial and UX research team,   

Anna, Lenneke, Liefke