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More Consumers Adopt Hybrid Shopping Behavior

PepsiCo e-commerce leader weighs in on how to make the most out of today's shopping models
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Emily Frankel PepsiCo
PepsiCo's SVP and Head of E-Commerce Marketing Emily Frankel

Today’s shoppers are all over the place, literally and figuratively. As they navigate a continually-changing marketplace, many consumers seem to be settling on the hybrid experience, balancing in-store visits with online shopping.

A new e-commerce study from PepsiCo confirms that buying behavior has become much more hybrid over the last six months. Self-described hybrid shoppers brought between 25% and 50% of their groceries online, mostly driven by convenience, safety and an interest in stocking up. Four out of 10 online shoppers say they will embrace a hybrid model over the next four to six months, up from two in 10 who reported that expected behavior last year, according to the research.

Progressive Grocer recently spoke with Emily Frankel, SVP and head of e-commerce marketing at PepsiCo, about the strength and potential of the hybrid model and how CPGs and retailers can work together to optimize the shopper experience.

Progressive Grocer: What are some of main takeaways from your latest consumer research conducted this summer?

Emily Frankel: There are a couple of things. One is that e-commerce shoppers are increasingly hybrid. Also, there is a variety of consumers shopping hybrid. It’s not just early adopters anymore – there is a more diverse consumer base and as a result, we need to think differently on how we engage.

PG: What are some of those ways of thinking differently?

EF: In the beginning, it was a convenience play and through COVID, it was a safety play. We’ve seen that when we have COVID spikes that the same safety concern comes back, but convenience has been real and continues.

People think of convenience as a luxury, but what we’ve found is that consumers find it (e-commerce) helpful for their budget, because it puts it in perspective. They have a visual to calculate items and what they put in their cart. That was an interesting finding to me.

PG: What seems to be driving the switching around within the omnichannel?

EF: We very much think about consumers as individuals, and with that, there will be times in people's lives where they will have a trade-off from one modality to the next. There is a high number of people in the hybrid environment who do not all of their shopping online and even people shopping brick and mortar are still making occasional purchases online. I can speak from our standpoint to say that we are certainly paying attention to all of the modalities as they landscape continues to evolve and change.

[Read more: "Instacart Brings Novel Advertising Solutions to CPG Brands"]

PG: As CPGs and grocers keep tabs on the evolving landscape, how can they deliver a seamless experience to the consumer?

EF: The way I think about it is meeting consumers where they are. They will tell us where they want to shop and it’s important for us to recognize that they show up in different spaces. It doesn’t mean that it’s the same message across every platform, though.

This encourages us to think about personalization – how can we get better about how we are tailoring things? What’s interesting around the retail media space is that through partnerships, retailers are giving brands like us the ability to do better targeting and to leverage platforms to be more relevant to our customers. I see those partnerships as important and an enabler to understand what the consumer is interested in.

It’s been exciting to watch. It spurs creativity to engage with customers and on the flip side, consumers like to feel relevant. It doesn’t feel like marketing when you see a message you like.

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