More Consumers Ordering Food Online, Getting Groceries Digitally

by | 4 minute read

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.

Courtney Huckabay
Court­ney is the Edi­tor for Sales­Fu­el Today. She ana­lyzes sec­ondary cus­tomer research and our pri­ma­ry Audi­enceS­CAN research. Court­ney is a grad­u­ate of Mid­dle Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­si­ty.