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Consumer attitudes report suggests how PR must evolve to meet changing shopping habits

Against a backdrop of tumultuous world events and the cost-of-living crisis, consumer attitudes have altered irrevocably. It’s PR’s eternal challenge to shift our approach with this constantly changing tide.

Consumers are demanding more from brands than ever before. They are buying less, shopping around more and every purchase is considered.

These are some of the research findings from data analytics firm Reapp that inform The Rise of the Shrewd Shopper report from PR agency Smoking Gun.

Key findings

Though spending on big luxuries and discretionary items has dipped (six in 10 people who have seen their cost of living rise cut spending on non-essentials, ONS), the research reveals that spending has actually increased on ‘life’s little treats’.

Beer sales for example have remained very healthy, with record peaks in summer and December in particular suggesting a sway away from beer gardens and Christmas gatherings in the pub to enjoying a drink at home.

Average sales volume of beer by month

*Tesco, stores only

Similarly, with brew-at-home coffee - the data shows that post-Covid and with more people working from home, fewer commuters were visiting coffee shops but still treating themselves to mid-range supermarket coffee. Whilst sales of ‘fakeaway’ sauces and meal kits soared this year as people traded weekend takeaways or meals out for cheaper and healthier DIY options.

Sales volume of 'fakeaway' sauces and meal kits by month

*Tesco and Morrisons, stores only

Reapp CEO Greg Phillips comments: “Interestingly, fakeaway sales peaked during key sporting events such as the World Snooker Championship, Grand National and US Open, with more people watching at home and avoiding hospitality venues as economic uncertainty continued.

“Across the board, the data is telling us that people are looking to find pleasure and create mini celebratory moments at home, with affordable treats reigning supreme.”

For brand PRs, this offers an opportunity to infiltrate and facilitate these moments of comfort and enjoyment and form a deeper emotional connection with consumers.

You only have to look at John Lewis’s new slogan, ‘for all life’s moments’ (with its tear-jerking ad campaign showing the tiny but oh-so-special moments in a child’s life at home - from changing nappies to first steps and birthday celebrations), to appreciate the power of being part of this narrative.

Opportunities for PRs

  1. Look for ways to position brands as part of life’s little occasions or moments of joy - whether that be a midweek pick-me-up, a Saturday night in watching the football, or a gathering round the kitchen table with mates. By doing so, not only will you influence purchase consideration now, but you’ll increase salience for the future.
  2. If you work with a service-led brand, think about how you talk beyond simply ‘what you do’ and enhance and facilitate life’s simple pleasures for a deeper emotional connection with the audience - from work-time breaks to relaxing on the commute.
  3. Identify chances to join in big cultural moments that feel true to your brand - big sporting events, landmark anniversaries, national celebrations and more. Playing to the news agenda and social media trends will be key to success and achieving dominant share of voice.


Report data was provided by Reapp and derived from brand sales data in the Big Four supermarkets. Download Smoking Gun’s ‘The Rise of the Shrewd Shopper’ report in full here.

Written by Rose Allerston, head of sales and marketing at PR agency Smoking Gun

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