The move online is not moving as quickly for grocery e-tailing as for other industries, but products likes snacks and sweets are a key opportunity sector for attracting first time shoppers.
According to The Online Grocery Shopper report from the Hartman Group, 18% of US households went online in the past three months to buy food, beverages or groceries, of which 75% purchased 5% or more online, and 20% purchased at least half online.
With US online sales of foods and beverages estimated to exceed $15 billion in 2013, according to Forrester Research, the food industry cannot ignore the potential of this market, said the report.
“Online grocery shopping represents a natural evolution in how consumers are living their lives concurrently in both the physical and digital worlds,” said Laurie Demeritt, CEO of The Hartman Group.
“Future growth of the online grocery channel will be driven by two key factors: 1) breaking well-entrenched habits (both emotional and physical) associated with in-store shopping and 2) being ready to help customers find and navigate the online grocery channel when situational triggers arise.”
The report is based on data from a nationally representative online survey of 1,595 household grocery shoppers. Data was also obtained from current and potential online grocery shoppers in Seattle, New York and Chicago.
Unsurprisingly, the report notes that today’s online grocery shopper, representing 14% of US households, is more likely to be “young, urban, a user of mobile technology, in a multi-person, high-income household, and within walking distance to a grocery store”.
While significant amounts of money are moving online – the online grocery shopper is described as a high-value customer, spending more and shopping more every month than those who do not use the online grocery channel - future growth will be driven by two key factors:
- Breaking well-entrenched habits associated with in-store shopping, and
- Being ready to help customers find and navigate the online grocery channel when situational triggers arise, said the report.
“The way we buy and eat food is very cultural and habitual,” said Tamara Barnett, The Hartman Group’s director of strategic insights. “It’s going to take a little while to break those habits and get people thinking about buying groceries online.”
Snacks & sweets
The report notes that key online opportunity categories for first time online grocery shoppers include snacks/sweets.
“For all current and potential online grocery shoppers, it is important to rethink the role of online versus in-store, and reimagine how their strategic interplay might capture greater engagement and purchases,” added the report.
“Consider how to create experiences that don’t simply mirror each other but are complementary and guide shoppers to patronize both channels.”