Retail and FMCG/CPG: Trends and insights round-up for 2021
December 10th, 2021, James Stibbs

Retail and FMCG/CPG: Trends and insights round-up for 2021

In this piece, we round-up the key trends and insights our data uncovered in the retail and FMCG/CPG world in 2021.

When it comes to people’s purchase behaviours, it’s no surprise that marketers have wanted to understand how the pandemic has changed shopping patterns this year – and fast.

Consumer behaviors drastically shifted online at the start of the pandemic but the vaccine rollout, coupled with rising consumer confidence, meant that many people felt safe enough to return to physical stores.

In YouGov’s International Omni-Channel Retail Report 2021, YouGov tracked consumer attitudes toward in-person shopping, which categories and types of shopping people prefer to shop for in-store versus online; and whether consumers would like to keep any new aspects of the pandemic shopping experience.

Below are some key findings from the global report:

  • Both brick-and-mortar and online channels are pervasive with shoppers, with an average global penetration across markets of 86% and 81%, respectively.

  • Across the world, channel reliance varies depending on product types, as essentials are more likely to be purchased in brick-and-mortar (78%) than online (57%), while discretionary items are more often bought online (72%) versus in-store (57%).
  • Zooming in, 57% of Americans indicated they were very or somewhat excited to get back to in-person shopping, indicating a strong appetite for a return to physical retail in March 2021.

Download YouGov’s International Omni-Channel Retail Report 2021 for free here

Meanwhile, YouGov’s FMCG/CPG white paper does the same for the consumer goods market, breaking down by category how consumers have responded to the pandemic.

In a separate study we revealed that a third of consumers globally now prefer to shop for groceries online. What’s more they plan to do more of it.

But, as we found out, that doesn’t necessarily mean that shoppers trust retailers with their private data or that shoppers have given up on the high street. In this story, we looked globally at what shops consumers are returning to first as restrictions ease.

The pandemic also influenced how we perceive brands – as hygiene moved up the agenda, so did the brands which supported our new priorities. Our Best Brand Rankings in the US and the UK reflect this ‘new normal’.

In YouGov's Global Best Brand Rankings, technology brands, which have done so much to connect consumers with each other over the past two years, feature heavily.

Here are highlights from our analysis of the top brands this year:

Download the full report of YouGov’s Best Brand Rankings 2021

Drilling down further, we also unveiled the winners of 2021’s Best Retail Brands around the world. Here, for example are those from the US, UK and APAC. And because we know that detail matters when it comes to data, you can also find the winners in sub-categories of retail like mass merchandisers, fashion, supermarkets and more.

But even winning brands weren’t always that easy to get hold of this year. Shortages caused by global supply chain issues have meant that many shelves have remained empty and in the autumn, we looked at how shoppers in the US and UK were responding when faced with limited choice.

Shortages were just one of a number of challenges faced by the sector in 2021. We explored the prospect of a cookie-less future in this in-depth piece earlier in the year, revealing the role of loyalty programs in filling some of the data gaps that eventuality may bring.

In one of our framework pieces, we also examined how loyalty programs can help produce strong brand advocates among a customer base. At the other end of the advocacy scale, our researchers found out how effective celebrity ambassadors are at influencing our views of different categories of product around the world.

Another kind of global issue became ever starker this year – the climate crisis. We produced this Profile Peek on sustainable shoppers in the UK to understand role of sustainability in consumer decisions. Globally, we also discovered shoppers’ plans to buy more sustainably once the pandemic ends.

Sustainability was also the focus of our European report on fashion this winter, revealing consumer habits and preferences country-by-country.

And because we know all this is a lot to take in, we’ve summarised too. Our ‘ten charts that show how consumers have been affected by the pandemic’ cover off changing consumer behaviours in the UK and the US.

For global insights into the retail and FMCG/CPG landscapes, check out our corresponding reports:

YouGov’s International Omni-Channel Retail Report 2021

YouGov’s International FMCG/CPG Report 2021: Consumer goods in a crisis

Discover more Retail/FMCG insights from YouGov

Talk to us about your data needs