Photo source: Target Corp.
It’s a year from that historic Friday the 13th when many packed up their corporate desks and moved into a home office. This past Monday my husband and I received our first Pfizer vaccine. Our arm was a little sore and we had fatigue for a few days…but now, we have started the journey of reentering the world.
While waiting for our vaccines at a Meijer store—we arrived a half hour early and they were running about 15 minutes behind schedule—I chatted with the other masked patients anxiously awaiting their injection, many of them much older, some even with a caretaker. And the consensus was that they were tired of living in fear and want to start doing things they use to do. For many, that includes in-person grocery shopping.
I’ve not stopped exploring supermarkets this past year. While I love Amazon Prime for household and office-type items, even non-perishable staples like the herbal tea I cold brew and the 5-pound bags of specialty roasted whole coffee beans I grind myself, I only used home delivery of perishable and everyday foods twice during the pandemic. The first time was when I had no car and decided to host an impromptu outdoor driveway Halloween party because the weather cooperated. After all, Halloween was on a Saturday and temps were in the 50s in the Midwest. That is worth celebrating. The other time is when my eldest son and I tested positive for COVID-19 and had to quarantine.
Many of those folks waiting for vaccines shared with me that they plan to ditch their COVID-19 ways and take baby steps back to doing what they like to do and how they like to do it. A key activity is grocery shopping.
I recognize there is tons of data showing that once we are behind the pandemic we will be in a new norm of a world where online shopping and curb-side pick-up reign. I’ve even written as much. But now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and so many others can, too, I don’t think that will be the case. I believe we will find news ways to do old things, but we want to live. We want to explore. We want to be intrigued. It’s up to marketers to entice. In-person shopping does a much better job of that.
I spoke with a 40-something-year-old teacher with school-aged children who said she wants to delete her recurring weekly shopping list for home delivery and looks forward to returning to her Saturday morning supermarket excursion after the gym, with grande latte in hand. She said she never thought she would miss shopping as much as she does and is craving the time away from the computer screen and the house.
A neighbor with two young daughters recently said, “We are using COVID-19 to create our story for how we live the rest of our life.” That’s quite profound. And from what my fellow patients shared, they just want to move on. They have a whole new appreciation for walking the aisles of the supermarket and exploring what’s new and deciding if they want to try it. It’s not the same as a popup on your screen. In fact, one woman I spoke with, albeit older and likely more set in her ways, said she doesn’t trust those algorithms that direct products to her online shopping experience. Her words stayed with me. “I’ll decide what I want to buy.”