As we approach the end of 2021, I’ve been pouring through the consumer research we conducted at the beginning of November for the Autumn edition of TWC Trends.

Even as concerns about omicron escalate, there was much to give us optimism for 2022. We saw that in October, consumers were returning to hospitality outlets in their droves. In fact, more people said they’d visited a hospitality outlet in the previous month (October 2021) than had visited a supermarket! Incredible! Whilst it’s incredibly tough for the hospitality sector again right now, with high levels of cancellations and concerns about possible further restrictions, this provide reassurance that it will bounce back once again in 2022. We all need to campaign for financial support for the businesses which have been badly affected by the latest wave of covid.  We also need to make sure that wholesale – the route to market – gets recognised by central and local government for the role it plays in supporting consumer facing businesses.

We also learned that huge numbers of consumers were entertaining friends and family in their homes. This is good news for retailers and offers an alternative route to market for restaurant operators, given a strong consumer appetite for restaurant-prepared food when entertaining at home.

We have seen consumers continue to embrace local businesses through 2021. Good news for independent businesses who are so important – and loved – in local communities. This includes retailers as well as hospitality outlets, from the local community pub to the café or coffee shop which plays such a fundamental role in keeping our collective chins up after a horrible couple of years.

We are able to put numbers to new and existing trends (plant based, saving money, premiumisation, discounters, use of digital). One trend which possibly sits under many peoples’ radar is the number of people using specialist food retailers including butchers, bakers, greengrocers, delis and fishmongers (collectively 20% in October 2021, which equates to about 11 million UK shoppers).

We have also seen a huge growth in personalisation. Almost anything can be personalised these days, helped by a highly digitalised nation. People I speak to are regularly surprised when I point out that there are only two countries in the world with a more digital population than the UK (and the USA isn’t one of them!).

We shared a statistic earlier this year which suggested that Amazon could become the UK’s sixth biggest grocer – it’s not that farfetched. And I’ve recently read some research predicting that Amazon will finally overtake Tesco as the nation’s biggest retailer by 2025.

Most people now recognise that Amazon is – really – a data company.

Local businesses in any sector – retail or hospitality – will always have an advantage over their multiple rivals – local knowledge, community connections and speed of implementation.

But it worries me that so many businesses still aren’t fully utilising one of the biggest assets they own – data! Our research revealed that half of all consumers are willing to have their data collected and utilised by businesses, providing that it benefits consumers, for example by offering more personalised promotions.

Our most recent research findings (TWC Trends Autumn Edition 2021) are available to you all with our compliments. You can find parts one (Re-emerging behaviours) and two (online explosion) here. We hope they will help with your planning and implementation in 2022.

We are also extremely grateful to our customers and partners who have helped to make 2021 our best year ever. We have loved working with our long-term clients and the large numbers of new ones who have joined us in 2021. We never take your custom for granted and we also learn a huge amount from you.

Finally, I know 2020 and 2021 have been truly awful for many people. I hope the festive period gives you some time to relax and connect with loved ones.

With warm regards,
Tom Fender