Skip to main content

Online Shoppers’ Lifestyle, Dietary Needs Often Go Unmet

Online Shoppers’ Lifestyle, Dietary Needs Often Go Unmet Label Insight
Label Insight's e-commerce shopability audit revealed a considerable gap between consumer needs and the online shopping experience.

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.
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds