Online Shoppers’ Lifestyle, Dietary Needs Often Go Unmet
Despite the current uptick in online grocery, consumers are often not finding products that meet their specific dietary, medical, allergen and values-based needs on retailers’ e-commerce sites, according to a new study from Label Insight.
For its "Empty Aisles: The Grocery E-Commerce Shopability Audit" study, Label Insight analyzed 30 of the top U.S. grocery, health, beauty and pet retailers, finding that, on average, even among the top 25 most popular need-state searches, including “organic,” “gluten-free” and “vegan,” retailers failed to return more than half (53%) of qualifying products, giving shoppers a limited selection to choose from.
Moreover, the study discovered that retailers fail to surface the vast majority (92%) of products in their e-commerce assortments that qualify to be found through search filters based on such consumer need-states as “low sugar” and “keto.”
The audit also revealed a considerable gap between consumer needs and the online shopping experience: 64% of online shoppers surveyed said that they’re making purchases for a diet or other health-related program, 55% cited allergies or intolerances as influencing the way they shop, and 53% admitted that it’s challenging to ensure a product meets the goals of their diet or health regime.
“Need-state buying is big business – today there are hundreds of millions of consumers shopping based upon dietary restrictions, lifestyle, wellness goals and personal values,” said Todd Morris, CEO of Chicago-based Label Insight, whose database of 200,000-plus product nutrients, 400,000 product ingredients and 9 million product claims covers more than 80 percent of U.S. food, pet and personal care products, and more than 99% of all consumer online searches. “While most retailers offer a full assortment of products that could fill their baskets, most consumers are facing ‘empty aisles,’ not ‘endless aisles,’ when shopping for their families. This is a fixable problem that needs our attention.”
Among the report’s other key findings:
- Consumer needs aren’t sufficiently accounted for online: The 21 retailers with attribute-related search filters overlooked 80% of consumer need-states and preferences.
- Table-stakes search terms aren’t on retailers’ websites: Top-searched product attributes like “diet” or “healthy” were missing from all retailer websites.
- Consumers are searching for products, but retailers are missing the mark: Of the top 25 product attributes, including “natural,” “plant-based” and “dairy free,” etc., that consumers organically searched for online over the past year, just 14 appeared within the top 25 search filters on retailer websites.
- Retailers aren’t responding the most common consumer needs: Many of the retailers audited failed to address the most searched-for consumer need-states. Of the 25 attributes with the highest overall online organic search volume, a filter existed on retailer websites just 23% of the time.