Snacks/sweets are key online opportunity categories for new online grocery shoppers: Hartman Group

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Snacks/sweets are key online opportunity categories for new online grocery shoppers: Hartman Group

Related tags: Food

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”​.

Slow transition

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.”

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1 comment

Why conversion to online grocery shopping is slow

Posted by David Canaan,

Following a six-year study of the future of food packaging sponsored by US West (telephone company), here is a random list of our relevant findings:
- Food shopping is emotional. 51% of shoppers have a list. Average of 10 items on it. Average of 19 items actually purchased. Reason: emotional impulse.
- Retailers are reluctant to risk the environment where purchases nearly double based on impulse.
- Most current online efforts are driven by logic and fail to facilitate impulse purchases.
- Lists of products emphasizing size, weight and price are dry and cumbersome for women (who, without being sexist) make up the majority of grocery shoppers as part of a nurturing drive.
- Pictures of packages are poor substitutes for a delicious meal -- package design is driven by in-store shelf needs and could be dramatically reconsidered in the digital world.
- Home food preparation is based on assembling ingredients.
- Nearly all other industries have evolved from assembling elements for yourself to finished products. Rolls Royce used to just make chassis -- buyers had to commission the body separately. Today we buy complete cars. Clothing was made by hand either at home or by a tailor -- today we buy finished products off the shelf. The 1906 Sears catalog sells electric motors. Today, we buy finished products with electric motors in them, not the motor alone. Food preparation from combining ingredients has existed since the dawn of time. The rise of finished meals (at restaurants or in the microwave) is a revolutionary shift in how consumption, and therefore, sales need to change.
- Food brands are still mostly ingredient brands (Del Monte, Green Giant, Birdseye, Pillsbury, Nestle, etc., etc.)
- Consumers believe they need to see, touch or smell key food categories (produce and meat) to make a purchase. There are few trusted brands in either of these categories to replace the perception of needing physical interaction.
- Retailers are reluctant to sacrifice house-branded or non-branded meat and produce because those categories are the main drivers for differentiation between stores where almost all other products can be purchased for the same price at almost any other store.

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