Digital, convenience, and changing shopper habits in the grocery sector
Twenty years ago the grocery space – and its consumers – weren’t quite ready for online shopping models, as evidenced by the spectacular failure of dot com hopefuls like HomeGrocer.com. Our CEO Rebecca Brooks writes about what was missing 20 years ago and what the future holds for online grocery shopping in her latest article for Forbes called “Grocery Shopping in the Age of Convenience.”
Today, with an intense consumer need for convenience, online grocery shopping (in specific categories) is beginning to take hold. She writes: “A large, recognized brand has the infrastructure already in place to support online grocery shopping, not to mention the fact that consumers may also feel more confident in dealing with a brand they trust. Huge players with large networks and systems in place can handle the kind of delivery demanded by an online grocery shopping experience.” This is true for companies today such as Amazon, Safeway, and Walmart which now all have options for online shopping pick-up and delivery for consumer convenience.
She contends that marketers in the grocery space need to pay particular attention to brand category. Some products need to be physically seen and picked out in person by the consumer due to variation and quality, and others may be a daily “use and throw away” item. For example, most consumers prefer to pick out fresh produce for a fruit salad, while something like toilet paper can be depended on to be the same each time. Rebecca does mention some food items that show promise for success in an online shopping environment, such as canned foods, pastas, and paper products. She writes: “Still, for actual food, it is a bit of an uphill battle, with only about 3% of groceries bought online.”
In the article, Rebecca dives into three umbrella grocery brand categories:
- Repeat Purchases With Little Variation: This includes things like paper products and cleaners that consumers use daily in the home. This is also the main area where people are more likely to “subscribe and save,” since they already have these types of products locked in.
- Standard Purchases With Some Variation: This can span items such as canned foods, pasta, frozen foods, and bread. Rebecca says, “There is some consistency to be found in this category, but shoppers may be less likely to subscribe and save so they can have choices instead of always being served the same product.” She also gives the example if someone likes a specific type of bread (whole wheat), they still might be willing to try different brands that offer whole wheat.
- Products That Need To Be Seen: This includes fresh produce, most dairy items, and speciality meats. Shoppers want to make sure these items are fresh, and tend not to trust someone else to pick out options that meet their preferences and standards.
Brand category is a baseline marketers in the grocery space must consider. “Just having an understanding of how consumers see your brand and product type can give you a leg up when seeking proper positioning in the marketplace.”
Rebecca wraps up her article by saying, “There’s no doubt that grocery shopping is once again on the precipice of a giant shift, and brands need to be ready with an understanding of where they fit from a category standpoint. Consumers will be thinking about brands differently, depending on where they fall on the spectrum.”
You can read the complete article at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2019/09/12/grocery-shopping-in-the-age-of-convenience/#d53326a78f6f
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