Data / Merchandising Features / Omnichannel / Tactics
Exclusives: Consumer Survey

Consumer Attitudes Toward Online Grocery Shopping

This PLBuyer exclusive investigates current consumer perspectives on online grocery shopping with particular emphasis on private label.

October 2, 2013

Consumers are already accustomed to shopping online. But does that level of acceptance translate over to grocery items—and particularly store brand products?

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Online grocery shopping

This survey investigated consumer attitudes toward online grocery shopping, and specifically how it relates to private label foods. The survey was sent to members of Consumer Science’s online U.S. panel, with responses collected during the month of September.

In our survey, 11% of respondents reported that they currently buy groceries online. Of those, 80% reported that they buy grocery products from “online grocers” like and Peapod; 30% from local grocery stores; and 30% from specialty-item websites (e.g., hard-to-find gluten-free products for a child with celiac disease). Clearly, some consumers are shopping online for grocery products from multiple sources.

Among the group of consumers not currently buying groceries online, the majority were unsure if it was something that would interest them. Those who replied that they might consider shopping online for grocery products reported that they would be significantly more likely to do so from retail grocers they were already familiar with or currently visit.

Although only 11% of respondents noted that they currently buy groceries online, an overwhelming 92% said they tend to enjoy shopping online for products—other than groceries. That said, respondents felt that both online grocery shopping and in-store grocery shopping hold distinct advantages. As might be expected, the data showed a significant link between those who rated in-store advantages highly and an unwillingness to buy groceries online. Other findings along these lines included:

• Higher-income households (those earning more than $50,000 per year) felt that not having to get ready to go to store is a major advantage when it comes to online shopping.

• However, higher-income households also particularly liked the idea of being inspired by products as they physically browsed the store.

• Female respondents were significantly more concerned that they would not be able to properly select their produce and meat in an online shopping environment than male respondents.

Shoppers were, on the whole, willing to pay some degree of a premium in order to receive home delivery—but generally not for in-store pick up. Respondents ages 18–34 showed that they were more likely to pay up to a 10% premium for delivery; those 35–54 were more willing to spend up to a 20% premium for this service. People over 55 are less likely to pay any sort of premium. This finding contradicts some of the comments that were presented that noted how useful home delivery would be for shoppers who might be incapacitated due to illness or advanced age.

When asked what type of devices they would likely be to use for online shopping, the majority of respondents said they were likely to use all devices (personal computers, smartphones and tablets) at any given time. Therefore, retailers should design online shopping platforms with compatibility for all devices in mind. Two notable deviations from this were male respondents and high-income households, both of which were significantly more likely to use a tablet for online grocery shopping.

When considering store brands, a considerable number of respondents (42%) suggested they would be less prone toward buying a store brand product if they could not see a side-by-side comparison with a nationally branded counterpart. This proclivity was more pronounced for male respondents than female.

To provide confidence in an online store brand grocery purchase, it was felt to be particularly important to provide supporting information, such as nutritional details, the product’s ingredient statement, the retailer’s guarantee of satisfaction, reviews written by fellow shoppers and any country-of-origin information. Female respondents were significantly are more interested in seeing nutritional information and consumer reviews of private label products than male.

In an online shopping environment, to offset the effect of not physically seeing store brands and national brands next to each other on the shelf, retailers should employ alternative—yet similar—promotional methods to illustrate product similarities and highlight value. One approach might be to present the store brand product and a congruous national brand in side-by-side viewing windows highlighting similarities (such as product characteristics like nutritionals, ingredients and total product weight/volume) and differences (such as value). In fact, 88% of respondents said that, when shopping online for groceries, if they selected a national brand for purchase, they would appreciate it if the retailer’s website would automatically offer available, equivalent store brands as possible replacements, showing the potential savings.

Consumer Science specializes in primary consumer research.  It utilizes a broad range of techniques and technology to customize research that delivers each customer the most value.

A qualified staff of researchers and moderators provide turnkey research, including study design, respondent recruitment and customized analysis and reporting. The offerings, combining traditional interviewing techniques and the latest technology, include intercepts, one-on-one, dyads, triads, focus groups, large sensory panels, in-home test, surveys, social media monitoring, video analytics and Web analytics. 

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