A Wandering We Will Go!

Seven COVID-19 Consumer Behavior Shifts That Are Influencing Summer Vacation

After nearly three months in quarantine, many of us are in sore need of a change of scenery. But even though states are opening back up and removing travel restrictions, COVID-19 is still a significant health concern, especially for summer travelers. Many have had to rethink and retool their 2020 vacation plans, and the good old-fashioned road trip is making a comeback.

With vacationers planning to hit the road this summer, how will COVID-19 change their approach to cross-country trips? For a safe coronavirus road trip, they’ll need to plan for and pack things they might not have considered before. This change in behavior and attitude provides inspiration for both travel brands and food and beverage brands to innovate and connect with consumers in new meaningful ways.

Here are the big changes we’re seeing in consumer behavior while traveling during coronavirus and the opportunity spaces they are creating for brands.

1 Safe and Easy Travel to New Locations

The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that a third of Americans are planning on taking a road trip this summer. One reason for the uptick is because it is easier to socially distance in a car as opposed to on a plane. But, with all the restrictions and regulations the virus has imposed on us at home, being out on the open road in a car comes with a sense of freedom. Plus, it’s easier to control and limit the number of people you interact with. Car travel also comes with the opportunity to visit off-the-beaten-path locations you can’t easily get to on a plane.

2 More RV Travel



National parks across the United States are beginning to reopen. Booking.com and other travel companies are expecting a large number of people will choose the parks because of their openness. Campgrounds are more conducive to social distancing than hotels. Gas prices are also at an all-time low. It is no surprise the RV industry is seeing an immense increase in RV rental and buying from consumers due to COVID-19. Tesla has even announced the launch of its own version of the classic RV—an entirely electric vehicle called “The Cybertruck” that features a pop-out kitchen, foldable countertops, and comfortable sleeping space. To learn more about how technology is being integrated into nature experiences, check out our Spring 2020 Trendslation Report!

3 Thoughtfully Stocked Coolers

The downside to car travel during COVID-19 is the question of where and what to eat while on the road. Every stretch of highway offers an array of various fast-food restaurants. And they are still there. The only catch is that a good portion of these restaurants will not be open for dining inside, and may also have limited hours. Market research firm Datassential estimates that more than 1 in 4 Americans are choosing to avoid eating at restaurants altogether. Roadtrippers will need to carefully plan and pack their coolers to cover meals while on the road, and they’ll be looking for satisfying and easily transportable food.

4 Longer Shelf Life for Long Hauls

Travelers who are planning for multiple days on the road (especially those packing an RV) will be looking to supplement refrigerated foods with shelf-stable foods that can transport easily, such as canned goods. This concept is the perfect opportunity for mainstream brands that Americans know and love to innovate and adapt to better-fit consumers’ needs for longer shelf life and easy-to-store packaging while staying true to their brand equity.

5 New Loyalties to Smaller Grocers

As large-chain grocery stores fight to keep their shelves fully stocked, consumers are turning to small-scale, local retailers, and convenience stores. At small stores, there is a stronger sense of community, which resonates with customers who are looking for human connection after months spent socially isolating. This idea is an opportunity for local brands to market to shoppers who are searching for products that resonate emotionally and practically.

6 Health and Wellness Boosts



Since COVID-19 has heightened our awareness of our overall health, people are looking for healthier options for snacks and drinks. Travelers seek food and drinks that have added nutritional value and immune-boosting ingredients, especially if they are concerned about coming into contact with more people in new places.

Cultured Snacking Co., a nutritional snack brand, has developed a yogurt bar containing live probiotics and nuts in various tasty flavors, making it the perfect on-the-go healthy snack. This type of easy, delicious product with a proven ingredient is the perfect example for established brands to create a new campaign or product that focuses on health and wellness.

7 Snacking the Classics



Even though people seek products to boost their health, snacking remains essential to their summer activities, and consumers still love tasty food and drinks that evoke a sense of better times. The pandemic has only heightened this desire. American snack brands have seen an increase in sales since March, and it is expected to keep growing. Specifically, Frito-Lay has experienced significant sales growth with Lay’s Potato Chips (+ 32%), Cheetos, and Tostitos in recent weeks. Snacks and drinks that remind consumers of the past highlight nostalgia as a major influence in the months to come.

So, Where Are You Heading?

COVID-19 has changed a lot in our lives. It has taken a lot from us, as well. As consumers start to shape what their lives will look like post-pandemic, they’ll look for brands that have thought ahead about products that address new needs.

Are you interested in learning about how post-COVID trends will impact your brand? Are you interested in ideating in new, emerging spaces through one of our virtual sprints?
We’d love to talk.