Purchasing food online: the new normal? Nearly one third of Americans – and almost half of online shoppers – turn to the Internet to purchase food. Whether it’s out of convenience, an effort to save money, or a necessity to get just the thing you’re looking for, online shopping has become a staple for many.

And it’s moved beyond just perusing for clothes and electronics; Americans are also searching for sustenance. In fact, 31% of Americans purchased food products online in the past six months. That works out to be 45% of online shoppers purchasing food on the Internet.

Would it surprise you to know that AudienceSCAN found 51.5% of Grocery Delivery Users are men?

Some, however, have a greater proclivity for online food purchasing than others. The activity is most prevalent among:

  • Millennials (36% vs. 31% of average Americans);
  • College grads (35% vs. 26% high school education or less);
  • Parents (37% vs. 28% of those without kids); and,
  • Those in an urban setting (38% vs. 30% suburban & 25% rural).

“As manufacturers continue to grapple with the challenges facing their industry around ecommerce, they must ask themselves: How does a consumer making a purchase in a grocery store differ from a consumer making a purchase online? Manufacturers will not only want to know differences in what people buy online vs. in-store; but, more importantly, how people buy online vs. in-store,” says Kathy Steinberg, director of The Harris Poll.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 1,995 U.S. adults aged 18+ surveyed online between June 17 and 21, 2016.

While these shoppers are stocking up on groceries online, grocers and retailers should influence their purchase behavior with online radio spots. AudienceSCAN reported 25% of Grocery Delivery Users have listened to a local radio station online in the past month.

What’s on the menu?

Looking to what types of products are purchased, no one category of food takes the proverbial cake. There’s just an 8 point spread between the most popular and least popular product purchases, with snacks (20%) and non-alcoholic beverages (17%) at the top, and baking products and frozen foods at the bottom (12% each).

But what is it that makes a food product a good fit for online purchasing? Americans say two main factors: something that’s non-perishable or has a long shelf life (49%), or a product that’s difficult to find in stores (48%). About 4 in 10 also say something easy to ship (39%), while 3 in 10 each say a product they don’t need right away (32%) or something they like to stock up on (31%).

When it comes to the specific brand that ends up on their doorstep, online shoppers are split on whether they only buy brands they already use (32%), are willing to try new, but familiar brands (34%), or are willing to try any brand, even those unfamiliar (34%).

Local grocers should tout their online/delivery services in TV commercials featuring sale items. AudienceSCAN revealed 27.8% of Grocery Delivery Users think TV is the best for bringing sales to their attention.

Out with the old?

Not quite… Just 10% of all Americans (29% of online food shoppers) say the habit has replaced some or all of their routine grocery shopping trips. Online food purchasers are most often seeking something special that they can’t find in their grocery store (52%). Another 24% use it as a crutch to replace critical items when they’re running low.

Much like shopping in a traditional grocery store, everyone has their own method for online shopping. Virtual food shoppers are nearly split on whether they use a shopping list (51%) or simply browse (49%) for what will ultimately end up in their shopping cart. However, online browsers are more willing to try new brands (77%) than those who rely on a list (60%).

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.