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A CPG brand sought to further develop its foundational understanding of plastic food storage bags in order to challenge the market leader at the shelf and in the home. There was particular interest in understanding the increased trend in usage, seemingly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, where shoppers stocked up and bought grocery items in bulk. The brand team was looking for insights that would help them better understand how to extend COVID-19 behaviors beyond pandemic mitigation.

Specifically, the brand team sought to better understand purchase behaviors and drivers, as well as in-home use across sizes, types, and brands. The learnings would help the client better understand purchasing and usage of plastic food bags to employ in-store strategies to capture shopper attention at the shelf and to incite product innovation to keep their brand fresh and relevant to shoppers’ needs. 

To address these objectives, C+R Research conducted a large quantitative Attitude & Usage (A&U) study among shoppers of various plastic food storage bag sizes, types, and brands across a range of channels and key retailers. 

Key areas of analysis focused a lens on usage of food storage bags for different occasions, including those extending to non-food storage, areas of improvement, and reasons for selecting bags over other storage options.

Problem

The client competes in a category against a brand that leads in both purchases and perceptions; however, shoppers are not overly brand loyal and switch across national and private label brands. This signaled to our client that with the right strategies, an opportunity exists for their brand to gain shares, and therefore, identifying key drivers of purchase was critical for the client to understand:

(1)    What to focus on in their messaging in order to break through and resonate, 
(2)    What to call out in on-pack violators to grab attention at the shelf, and 
(3)    Where opportunities exist for new product innovation to bring life to a low-excitement category. 

Another wrinkle in our client’s path for success was rooted in increased shopper focus on sustainability and environmental issues, creating concern around sustained usage and long-term growth. The client wanted to understand the degree of passion around these issues, the impact on shopper perceptions of the category and usage, and openness to “green” offerings surfacing in the competitive landscape. 

Result

The research uncovered that the category leader may hold an edge with respect to purchases and perceptions, but shoppers aren’t overly loyal. In fact, shoppers tend to use both the client and leading competitive brand, and in similar occasions. Moreover, research revealed that the category features shoppers deem to be important are those in which our client’s brand had the competitive edge both perceptually and in functionality. Based on these findings, the client team felt confident that the brand was well-positioned to stake a claim of competitive market share if messaging pulled the right levers with shoppers. These insights provided key guidance during brand planning season. 

The research also confirmed drivers behind increased food bag usage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, teasing out key occasions of usage. Shoppers were forced to stock up, shop ahead, and meal plan. In fact, shoppers discovered more “whole-family” meal occasions, which impacted their food storage (pre-and post-consumption) and meal prep. While COVID-19 will hopefully mitigate, the team learned that some behaviors introduced may be here to stay. This meant an opportunity for the category and the client brand. 

By way of these findings, along with the discovered balancing act plastic food bag shoppers manage between convenience and social consciousness, we were able to provide valuable insights on how the client team could grow in a category defined by weak loyalty, changing behaviors, and social/environmental issues. 

Solution

A large quantitative A&U study was conducted to gain foundational learning of the plastic food bag category across a variety of bag sizes, closures, and material types, and brands. 

Plastic food bag shoppers were asked specific questions to provide an in-depth look at their degree of involvement in the category on a weekly basis, answering the following questions:

 

  • Which sizes and types are used most? 
  • In which occasions do different bag sizes and types win and why?
  • When and what problems are incurred? 
  • What are the perceptual advantages of the key brands?

Data were analyzed by bag size, type, and occasion with the goal of understanding:

 

  • Home food storage management and containment, with a lens on plastic food bags and the behaviors and problems associated with their usage.
  • Penetration and usage behaviors by size, closure type, material, brand, etc. 
  • Importance of features among different bag buyers.
  • How food bag storage behaviors have changed over time.
  • Sustainable behaviors related to food storage management.

Deliverables included a foundational reference report across all areas of exploration, as well as a strategic report tailored to the brand team’s key business questions. Both were instrumental in brand planning to help the team chart a course of action to win at shelves and in consumer homes.
 

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