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Why Online Grocery Shopping Behavior Transcends Demographics

By Barry Clogan, SVP of business consulting services at MyWebGrocer

The fact that the younger generations (Millennials and Centennials) are greatly contributing to the rise of online and mobile commerce is no surprise. Young consumers are generally more open to not only trying new technology but trusting it with private information or important purchases. Centennials (shoppers under the age of 18) are even more open to new ecommerce trends as these individuals were born with technology. To them, purchasing anything from clothing to household items online or from mobile devices is simply a part of life.

Many grocery industry leaders assume that the same idea applies to online grocery shopping. After all, online grocery shopping is a relatively new phenomenon and one that many consumers falsely believe is too expensive. But while younger generations certainly do shop for groceries online, the grocery industry is one that simply cannot be compared to typical online retail categories. The need for convenience when it comes to buying something as common and necessary as groceries transcends age, income and a variety of demographics. In other words, online grocery shopping isn’t just for the affluent or the young, it’s new way of buying food that caters to all lifestyles. And as we approach the holidays, it’s important for grocers to understand how these lifestyles can change with the seasons.

The Convenience of Online Grocery Shopping

Grocers that provide online shopping options position themselves to better cater to all of their customers. Groceries are something that everyone buys regularly, and many consumers live a lifestyle that makes grocery shopping an inconvenient chore at times. While items like shoes, clothing or home decor are typically purchased more frequently by wealthier or younger individuals, groceries cross all demographics and lifestyles.

In other words, online grocery is a service that caters to a wide rage of shoppers. For example, online grocery shopping could provide convenience for a busy mother who cannot find child care, young urbanites who rely on walking or public transportation, or elderly couples who simply lack the physical ability or energy to make regular trips to the store. Regardless, online grocery shopping is a service that should be catered more so to consumers with certain lifestyles rather than demographics like age or income.

Online Grocery Shopping for the Holidays

What does this concept of lifestyles versus demographics mean for the holidays? Many consumers adopt new habits or schedules during the holidays that make them more likely to shop online for groceries. Some are hosting big events, and others are simply busier than usual. This is true regardless of age, which makes the holidays a special opportunity for grocery stores to build relationships with new shoppers as they prepare for holiday festivities.

By taking time to determine who is shopping for groceries online this season and why, grocers can better cater to these specific audiences and ideally turn these one-time online shoppers into regulars on their site. For example, consumers who might otherwise shop in-store might find themselves pressed for time during the holidays and thus, turn to online grocery shopping for last-minute items. Also, many consumers are hosting family or friends during this time of year and might need to purchase more grocery items than usual and thus, require delivery. While Millennials could easily fall into one of these categories, they aren’t exclusive to the younger generation.

Once grocers understand the typical lifestyle of holiday grocery shoppers, they can better meet the needs of these audiences and provide the best online experience possible. For instance, grocers could offer discounts for new customers during this time of year, encouraging them to return at a future date, or provide links to all items in a popular holiday recipe to save time for the busiest shoppers.

In many areas, Millennials are driving the rise in ecommerce. Unlike traditional retail industries, online grocery shopping isn’t dominated by the affluent or the young. But rather, consumers of all demographics turn to online channels to buy food. And more often than not, consumers shop online for groceries based on lifestyle factors rather than predetermined demographics. So as we head into the holiday season, take time to understand the factors motivating shoppers to shop for groceries online this time of year, and ensure that their experience is convenient and pleasant according to their definition. In doing so, you’ll be able to keep these new shoppers returning to your store even after the busy holiday season comes to a close.

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