Younger Shoppers Opening Up Omnichannel Experimentation

Progressive Grocer talks with Acosta Group’s digital commerce pro about behavior-driven opportunities
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Gen Z shopper at home
Gen Z and Millennial consumers are more open to buying fresh produce online, according to a new study from Acosta Group.

It wasn’t too long ago that there was a rapid acceleration in the digital grocery space, as retailers scaled up in the early pandemic days to provide delivery and curbside pickup and adjusted to acute supply chain and inflation challenges. Now that the triage-style environment is cooling somewhat, grocers are taking a beat to think strategically about the direction they’d like to take their omnichannel business.

It makes for an interesting and dynamic environment, said John Carroll, president of digital commerce and analytics services at Acosta Group, “We’re seeing more people open to experimentation – a willingness to try new things on the omnichannel side, whether that’s retail technology, retail media or the digital shelf,” he told Progressive Grocer in a recent interview. “There are a lot of different ways to get products.”

[Read more: "How Grocery Stores Can Thrive in the Age of E-Commerce"]

Carroll is sharing Acosta Group’s insights and perspective during a Sept. 20 panel discussion on optimizing the supply chain at this year’s Groceryshop event, along with Jennifer McKeehan of Walmart, Fuad Hannon of DoorDash and Mustafa Bartin of Migros Turkey Retail. “There’s a lot going in that space right now. Number one, the core omnichannel shopper is definitely younger – Gen Z and young Millennials – and the growth we see in that shopping group is continuing to drive more transactions. That was a real ‘a-ha’ for me,” Carroll said.

Carroll referenced Acosta Group's recent online grocery shopping study conducted with its proprietary shopper community. According to that study, younger online grocery shoppers use delivery services at twice the rate of Baby Boomers; 60% of Millennials and 50% of Gen Z consumers use store pickup services; and 62% of Millennials and 65% of Gen Z shoppers order for home delivery. The data also showed that three in four Gen Z and Millennials are placing small orders for a single meal or recipe.

Younger omnichannel consumers mean different avenues for engagement, Carrol added: “They are much more digitally savvy and looking for more options.”

That segment of shoppers is changing behaviors and perceptions across categories, too. “One thing that’s surprising is that we’re seeing more (digital growth) on the perishable and produce side than ever before, and I think that’s driven by younger consumers, who are looking for convenience,” Carroll noted.

Given the fact that a core group of consumers enjoy in-store shopping and others are embracing tech-enabled possibilities, grocers should learn as much as possible about their customers. “The companies that are thinking in the mind of their shoppers are winning. It’s understanding consumer behavior and then building a process and business platform based on that understanding of consumers and how they prefer to receive information and products,” he remarked.

Also this week, Acosta Group shared findings from new study on plant-based trends in advance of the Natural Products Expo East event in Philadelphia. That research, too, revealed influential behaviors among younger consumers, as Gen Z and Millennials are eager adopters of plant-based products. The study also showed that active users of plant-based offerings are more likely to believe that such products have staying power, while only 20% of non-users agree and think it’s more of a passing fad.

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