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11/10/2021

The New Digital Grocery Shopper

Acosta data shows evolution of online behaviors
Gina Acosta
Executive Editor
Gina Acosta profile picture
The New Digital Grocery Shopper
An employee loads grocery orders for delivery from Whole Foods Market.

We now have a clearer picture of the post-pandemic digital grocery shopper, thanks to new research from Acosta

Acosta's latest report, "The Growth of Online Grocery Shopping Shows No Signs of Slowing Down," shows that nearly 25% of all online grocery shoppers plan to do more within the next year. 

“COVID-19 significantly accelerated shoppers’ reliance on e-commerce,” said Colin Stewart, EVP, business intelligence at Acosta. “Half of all online grocery shoppers developed their current preferences after the pandemic began. This widespread embrace of online grocery platforms is expected to notably impact the CPG industry, with Mercatus and Incisiv projecting that e-commerce will account for 20% of the U.S. grocery market in the next five years. Shoppers who have grown accustomed to the convenience of online grocery shopping will likely maintain their new habits long after the pandemic ends.” 

According to Acosta's new data, COVID-19 played a key role in the rising popularity of online grocery shopping, with over half of all shoppers (51%) starting online shopping after the pandemic began. Twenty percent of online grocery shoppers use online platforms all or most of the time. Sixteen percent of online grocery shoppers use online platforms occasionally. Fourteen percent of online grocery shoppers use online platforms regularly, but shop in-store more often. Fifty percent of all shoppers rarely or never shop for groceries online. 

About one quarter of all online grocery shoppers (23%) plan to shop for groceries online more within the next year, with over half (64%) planning to continue shopping at their current level. Thirty-one percent of shoppers who are active online all or most of the time plan to increase their online grocery shopping within the next year. Fifty-seven percent plan to stay the same. Twenty-seven percent of shoppers who shop regularly online but visit the store more often plan to increase their online grocery shopping within the next year. Sixty-one percent plan to stay the same. Ten percent of shoppers who shop occasionally online plan to increase their online grocery shopping within the next year. Seventy-five percent plan to stay the same. Over half of consumers (59%) stick with their usual in-store retailer when purchasing groceries online but major aspects of the traditional shopping experience have changed. Thirty-five percent of online grocery shoppers now use their smartphones more often for planning and shopping. Thirty-four percent of online shoppers are now buying a wider variety of items and trying new products. Twenty-nine percent of online shoppers are now spending less time shopping. 

Online subscriptions became extremely popular during the pandemic, with 31% of all shoppers using this method to purchase grocery items. Fifty percent of subscribers order pet care-related products via subscription. Forty-one percent of subscribers order coffee or tea via subscription. Thirty-five percent of subscribers order shelf stable foods, paper and cleaning supplies, OTC medications, or shaving products via subscription. Thirty-four percent of subscribers order meal kits or beauty care products and cosmetics via subscription. About 90% of these subscribers intend to continue their subscriptions over the next year. 

Acosta’s report was gathered via online surveys using the company’s proprietary shopper community, conducted in October 2021. 

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