What Happens Online Before a Consumer Ever Walks into a Grocery Store? - eMarketer

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What Happens Online Before a Consumer Ever Walks into a Grocery Store?

Shoppers look up recipes, check prices online first

August 28, 2014

Customers’ mental gears turn for hours, even days, before making grocery decisions. According to Sullivan, Higdon and Sink, shoppers under the age of 45 are researching online before they ever set foot in a grocery store—or enter the URL for online grocers like FreshDirect and Peapod. Forty-six percent of respondents in a July 2014 survey said they looked up recipes online on their computers or mobile devices before grocery shopping. A quarter researched the brand—or a particular product online—beforehand, emphasizing the importance of well-branded and easily navigable landing pages for food brands. Two in 10 respondents said they researched online for price comparisons or just to see what kinds of expenses they would undertake on their next grocery store run.

Digital Activities Conducted Prior to Grocery Shopping According to US Internet Users, by Age, 2012 & 2014 (% of respondents in each group)

But it’s the shoppers age 45 and up that show the starkest difference in pre–grocery shopping research behaviors from 2012 and 2014, according to the study. In 2012, only 8% of responding grocery shoppers 45 and older looked up recipes online before shopping; by 2014 that number jumped to 46%. The number of 45 and up respondents who found out more about a product or brand online more than doubled, and those who checked prices of grocery products online more than tripled in those two years.

Once consumers finish the research process, finding the time to grocery shop is a formidable challenge in its own right. As revealed in a new survey of 1,340 US working women from WorkPlace Impact, a company that markets to consumers at work, for example, female shoppers try to fit grocery shopping in time slots that comport with their busy workday schedules. The survey indicates that one in every two women make a trip to the grocery store between Monday and Friday—and most shop on the way to and from work or during their lunch hours. These female shoppers—89% of respondents, the survey said—are also adding items to their lists as they come to mind throughout the week.

For consumers in 2014, shopping—even for groceries—is a 24/7 effort. With work and home blended more than ever before, and linked by perpetual connectivity, marketers know where to reach their consumers. The question is how they should do it.

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