You know the feeling of getting your third choice substituted on your grocery order?  Or the struggle when your procurement agents are buying microchips at double the regular price? Do you get nervous checking your stock portfolio and bank accounts, wondering how to stretch the budget?  Us too, friend. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss how customers are impacted by supply chain issues and what that means to market research. 

A supply chain is the process by which a product is sourced, created, distributed, and delivered to customers.  Supply chains drive modern commerce.  Consumers and companies rely on them to get products on time.  When functioning normally, supply chains are efficient.  But product shortages, labor shutdowns, and high demand have caused problems for global supply chains.  Disruption at any point in the supply chain creates a bottleneck for the remaining links.  For example, when the world’s largest shipping ports closed in China, imported products and resources slowed in the United States. 

No one is immune to the effects of disrupted supply chains and product shortages. Worldwide, businesses and consumers are both struggling to make ends meet.  Troubles in the supply chain cause product shortages, which lowers the supply while increasing the demand.  As Econ 101 teaches us, this means that prices will increase for the available supply.  Human psychology also factors in, as we have seen with panic buying and viral fistfights in the grocery store. Price increases against the backdrop of job loss and budget cuts causes financial and emotional stress. 

Where are The Effects Hitting Hardest? 

All industries are feeling the pinch.  In 2020, we experienced a shortage of toilet paper and subsequent stockpiling.  As I write this blog in May 2022, the US is undergoing a baby formula shortage. 

Gas prices are anticipated to hit record highs.  A wave of avian flu, which requires flocks of sick birds to be culled, has caused a shortage of eggs. Meat, eggs, and dairy prices have greatly increased; the US Department of Agriculture says that egg prices are up 52% in April. 

Industries hit hard include technology, grocery and consumer products, auto manufacturers, and housing.  For example, next-gen gaming systems like the PS5 and Xbox 1 have been in short supply due to a global shortage of microprocessors.  The cause of the disruption was that the company that produces most of the world’s supply of microprocessors was closed for lockdown.  A secondary cause was high demand: people staying at home had more free time to play games and many picked up the hobby for the first time. 

Some experts predict that 2022 and 2023 will see increased shortages of grain, gasoline, and neon caused by the war in Ukraine

How Do We Cope? 

There are many examples of how consumers are overcoming supply chain disruptions.  One is customers switching to store brand over name brand products.  Our research indicates that customers are willing to use store brand products if the price is lower than name brand products as long as the product quality is similar.  Our survey showed that 1 in 5 consumers is purchasing more store brand products today than they did 1 year ago. 

Some people are taking a grassroots approach.  Parents are utilizing Facebook Marketplace and Groups to buy and trade baby formula and diapers.  People with green thumbs are planting Victory Gardens.  Amid the chaos of Shanghai’s strict lockdowns, apartment residents are sharing their extra food with neighbors via hallway drop-offs. 

When Will Things Change? 

Supply chain disruption can happen for many reasons: war, famine, or plague.  Currently, it is happening due to the Covid-19 pandemic and war between Ukraine and Russia.  No one knows for certain when or how things will change. 

Inflation, cost of living, and high prices are also a factor. Inflation is the highest it’s been in over 40 years. After years of record growth, the stock market and crypto sales are in flux.  Some of this is a natural reaction to the financial environment, while other reactions are due to human intervention. 


Supply chain problems are challenging us all and are likely to get worse before they get better.  While no one knows for sure how long the pandemic and global conflicts will continue, you can leverage FC Community and Panels to discover how your customers are coping with supply chain problems. 

Visit our Resources page for more coverage on the malleable product market and how it affects market researchers.  We will keep you updated, starting with a whitepaper on Name Brand VS Store Brand products. 

The realities of making business decisions amid crises can be daunting, but our tools make it more digestible and easier to act upon.  Fuel Cycle’s CoRe and Ignition software platforms are built for iterative research and deliver continuous insights.  We welcome Brand Health Tracking to our product portfolio this spring!  Let’s work together to ignite the spark of agile and modern market research – speak to an expert today. 


Author: Katie Oscar