Beyond COVID-19:
Top 3 Evolutions in Family-Centered Supermarket Promotions


The pandemic has imposed new rules that everyone needs to adapt to. Consumer behavior is constantly changing, so retailers have to prepare for life beyond COVID-19. “They will have to go the extra mile, demonstrate and be relevant in an increasingly critical and transparent society”, anticipates Hong Liem, UNGA Managing Partner. “That means choosing their positioning and giving more importance to marketing-supported campaigns that deliver both ROI and brand equity.”

What will supermarket collectible promotions look like in the post-COVID-19 world? Let’s dive into the top 3 predictions and what they mean for your future marketing strategy.

Key learnings:

1. Collectible promotions will connect retailers’ marketing and CSR strategies


Revisiting collectible promotions to give back to shoppers

72% of consumers do not appreciate companies putting profit over people during the crisis

Between health issues, economic uncertainty and emotional anxiety, consumers have been through a lot. They want to see brands help out. Retailers have therefore started to pitch in: Trader Joe’s in the U.S., for instance, offers special shopping hours to seniors and vulnerable shoppers. Additionally, Tesco in the U.K. donated a phenomenal £30-million package to charities.

→ In the same vein, collectible promotions will be revisited more often by retailers to connect marketing to social responsibility strategies. Marks and Spencer, for example, adapted the mechanics of its Little Garden collectible promotion in March 2020. The retailer removed the £20 minimum spend limit for a free seedling kit in order to help families keep children busy playing and learning at home.


Improving loyalty programs to protect the planet

57% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to help reduce negative environmental impact

Sustainability has reached a tipping point. Shoppers are increasingly turning towards brands and products that align with their values — sustainability being at the top of their criteria. They want to see less single-use plastic and more environment-friendly initiatives in retail.

→ More collectible promotions will be made of plant-based or recycled materials. They will be rolled out by retailers to raise awareness among children and families about the importance of the environment. Checkers (Shoprite), in South Africa, has already turned this insight into action: its Little Garden 2 promotion in 2020 encouraged families to grow small bee-friendly gardens. Moreover, the collectible seedling kits were locally produced, creating employment for more than 156 South Africans, mostly women.



Use collectible promotions to make a positive impact

• In the post-COVID-19 world, collectible promotions will not be exclusively incorporated in marketing strategies to drive traffic and sales. They will also bridge them to CSR.

• Whether through the production process, charitable initiatives or the campaign mechanics and rewards themselves, your collectible promotions should aim to help and empower your community in order to meet customers’ expectations.

Sustainability will be non-negotiable: Consumers will require your collectible promotions to be more environmentally friendly. Manufacturing the rewards and their packaging out of more sustainable materials — plant-based and recycled — will soon become the norm.

2. At-home activities and healthy eating will be at the heart of collectible promotions


Supporting families’ quality time at home

Since consumers haven’t been able to go out as much as they used to, they have found a new appreciation for their homes. The work-life balance has really shifted, and we have noticed a rebirth of family time. The popularity of board games has doubled during the lockdown (3), and families, including children, have been baking, cooking and spending more time in the kitchen than they did before the lockdown.

54% of Americans who have cooked more in 2020 say they will continue when the pandemic passes

→ It is clear that home is where the heart is. In order to meet consumers’ expectations in the new normal, retailers are looking to reward customer loyalty with products that enhance families’ lives at home. The Russian retailer Magnit, for example, launched the “Have Fun with Hasbro Games” redemption campaign in winter 2020/21, rewarding families with five of the most popular board games in the world, including a Monopoly Junior – Magnit edition.


Encouraging kids and families to eat healthy

Healthy eating has become a much more significant idea in food retail as consumers have placed it front and center. In the past 3 decades, the prevalence of childhood obesity in the U.S. has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents.

High rates of sugary drink intake among children and teens continue to raise public health concerns. Despite beverage companies’ pledges to reduce beverage calories, advertising of sugary drinks and energy drinks has increased (5). Organizations such as UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, therefore, highlights the necessity for companies to “discontinue extensive marketing of sugary drinks that encourages consumption by children and teens and contributes to long-term negative impacts on their health.”

In five years, companies increased sugary drink ad spending by 26%.

→ Grocery retailers will be the most important actors in preventing childhood obesity. Linking it strongly with their core business, they will place more emphasis on fresh food and healthy recipes through collectible promotions. Such retailers are the most relevant businesses to provide shoppers with keys to healthier cooking and eating.



Improve families’ daily lives and eating habits through collectible promotions

• Customer rewards will be all about at-home activities such as board games, cooking, and baking, to bring families closer.

• Supermarket collectible promotions will encourage children and families to eat healthier, supporting parents in the fight against childhood obesity through tips and recipes.

• Collectible promotions will work as a relevant connection between grocery retailers’ commitments to families and their offering of fresh ingredients, ideal for homemade meals.

3. e-Commerce will gain prominence, and so will digital collectible promotions


Rewarding customers where they shop

Many people worldwide have been working and living in the safety of their homes during the pandemic and the Internet has been helping out in more ways than we could have imagined. Among these, digitalization enables consumers to shop without leaving their homes.

Online grocery will swell to 21.5% of total U.S. grocery sales by 2025

Online shopping has been growing steadily over the last few years, but it reached unprecedented growth levels during the pandemic. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, e-grocery sales were reckoned at 4.3% of the 2020 U.S. total grocery market and projected to rise to 5.4% in 2021, 10.7% in 2024 and then hit 13.5% in 2025. However, with online grocery already reaching a double-digit share in 2020, post-pandemic estimates show the channel growing to 12.5% of the grocery market in 2021 on its way to surpassing a 20% share in 2025 (6).

→ 43% of American shoppers reported in 2020 that they shopped online in the last six months versus 24% two years ago, COVID-19 concerns and convenience being the main reasons for shifting (6). Online shopping is here to stay; retailers’ collectible promotions will therefore adapt and go digital as well.



Mechanics, rewards and activation will take a digital turn

• Loyalty programs will reward customers’ online purchases as much as physical shopping trips. Instant-rewards are likely to become retailers’ go-to mechanics since they are relatively easy to deliver within home-delivered packs.

New, digitally oriented types of mechanics and rewards will emerge. Retailers who will innovate in digital loyalty and gamification will be recognized by shoppers and attract new customers — especially the most digitally savvy ones.

• Today’s supermarket collectible promotions continue to happen in stores, and online activation is used only to help drive web-to-store traffic. Tomorrow’s promotions, however, will be 360°. They will be used to drive up both in-store and online traffic & and sales. The marketing budget allocated to online activation will then outgrow the in-store activation budget.

Sources: (1) World Retail Congress, (2) IBM 2020 Consumer Research Study – 2020 NRF Retail’s Big Show, (3) Looking forward to a life after Corona Virus – Kids Insights, (4) Food Study Special Report, America Gets Cooking – Hunter, (5) Sugary drink advertising to youth: Continued barrier to public health progress / Analysis of 2018 Nielsen data – UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity June 2020, (6) e-Grocery’s New Reality – The Pandemic’s Lasting Impact on U.S. Grocery Shopper Behavior – Mercatus and Incisiv.


About UNGA

UNGA is a global creative agency specializing in kids’ and families’ loyalty.
UNGA uses the power of play to design award-winning collectible promotions. Worldwide famous concepts such as Little Shop and Little Garden help retailers grow by engaging and retaining families of shoppers.

Start planning your future family-centered promotions now.



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