Shopping online can be a win or a loss, depending on your perspective.
Many consumers like to be able to plan their store, add items quickly, and stick to a list. But it’s not so good for items bought on a whim, especially which attract shoppers with nice displays, like fresh produce.
How do we balance the needs of consumers and the fruit and vegetable industry, driving demand while maintaining a smooth online grocery experience? Who is most likely to buy online on impulse and how do we encourage retailers to incorporate suggestive selling strategies?
Tom Barnes, CEO of Category Partners, said:
“Consistent with previous research on category partners, impulses for many categories of fruit, for example, are greater than 60% of (in-store) purchases. That’s a huge amount of opportunity and conversely a lot of volume at risk. But it is a basic fact that consumers buy products with their eyes. So if they don’t see it, they won’t buy it.
Getting noticed in-store isn’t the same as online. Online shopping engines are great for reminding you of past purchases. We can all think of the times we got that “you already bought” or “maybe it’s time to restock” reminder. Past online purchases are a great way to encourage future ones. But how do you begin this “future story”?
Things as basic as online advertisements on retailer sites to promote an item can be a way. Maybe some in-store signage that promotes a discount on online shopping only if you scan the QR code in-store? As an industry, we have to be creative. We MUST break down the barrier of the initial purchase. If we don’t, we will be fighting from behind for consumer attention against competition with much larger budgets.
Blue Book Services has partnered with Category Partners to deepen consumer habits in this series, Online Produce Shopping: the Path Forward.
This study gave interesting results. In particular, it has helped define who buys online versus in-store. But it didn’t stop there. Category Partners explored the relevance of in-store and online impulse buying, who buys on impulse by channel, and why we should care about who they are.
Study sponsor Jim Beagle, CEO of Grapery (producer and distributor of Cotton Candy Grapes) BB #: 210849 observed:
“Google, the subject of consumer attention span on a web page, or Instagram or… you choose the social media platform.
Consumers are on or off in almost the blink of an eye. None of us have the luxury of long and detailed communication of our products to one audience, let alone multiple audiences. To have any hope of winning, especially online, we need to know exactly who we want or need to reach and what will potentially engage them. The laser like the audience, the message and the imagery focus on life or death online.
This also applies to the social media platform where you might invest your marketing spend. Instagram is a platform that tends to be more dominated by a female audience, while males are generally more present on YouTube. Again, to use an old phrase, you have to fish where the fish are. It’s more important today than it ever was.
According to Category Partners research, less than half of consumers, or 48%, said they make impulse purchases online.
When they do, it is more often men than women (+21 percentage points) who are driven to make an unplanned purchase. This is behavior that appears to be chain-driven and not sex-driven. When shopping in stores, men and women are equally likely (64% to 68%) to buy on impulse. Younger consumers are also much more likely to make impulse purchases online. Consumers 44 and under were at least 20 percentage points more likely to buy impulsively than consumers 45 and over.
“In this study, we did not specifically ask men or young shoppers why they are more likely to buy products online. Partly because prior to the research, we didn’t have objective evidence that these demographics might be interesting or important for impulse buys, says Cara Ammon, senior vice president of research for Category Partners.
“With that in mind, we can recall past research on category partners and apply some earlier learnings with a little common sense. Online grocery shopping is still relatively new. Buying products online is behavior that, for practical purposes, is barely more than 24 months old. Older people are generally not early adopters. Some data suggests, does not confirm but does suggest, that consumer segments that tend not to adopt early will tend to be more conservative in their approach to engagement. In other words, more planned purchases.
Population density is also an important factor in impulse shopping online. Consumers living in less densely populated areas are less likely to make an impulse purchase online. Consumers living in suburbs, small towns and those living in rural areas are at least 25 points less likely to buy impulse (online) than those living in large cities.
The research results alluded to a variety of factors affecting impulse buying online. Younger consumers more often live in large cities than older consumers. In addition, the methods of execution also seem to be a determining factor. Home delivery (as opposed to in-store pickup) is the preferred method in large cities. It is also more available than in less densely populated areas. The buyer’s age, convenience and speed of delivery can be the primary motivators involved in reducing this impulse gap.
It’s not just about the beauty of an in-store display. Although this is an emerging segment of the industry, Beagle suggests that retailers and brands can make adjustments to drive impulse shopping online.
Grocers are “incredibly innovative” in their customer engagement in a physical store, he says, especially when it comes to fresh and perishable items.
“After all, fresh and perishable items are the greatest opportunity for grocers to differentiate themselves from their competition, grow their brand and increase buyer loyalty for their banner,” Beagle said. “Fresh produce is one of the few places in the store where shoppers regularly abandon listings and are open to being swayed by their senses. Through various strategies, grocers provide shoppers with a multi-faceted sensory experience to provide them with options that influence impulse buying decisions.
One of the best ways to sell in-store can be an online challenge.
“In-store seasonality is a catalyst for buyers, retailers and producers to all ‘win’ the experience,” says Beagle. “The early phases of online shopping have diverged from these opportunities, which opens the door to new and innovative approaches to engage and excite shoppers in an online shopping environment. “
Retailers engage in some strategies for the success of seasonal products.
“Creating an online environment that gives pride of place to exciting, seasonal produce can be achieved through a variety of tactics which can include such things as seasonal highlights, maturity scales for consumers to use. have more choices in how their fresh produce is chosen, flavor guides for consumers to engage in a scavenger hunt for the best tasting tip products possible and creative content around seasonal recipes, ” Beagle said.
“All of these tactics are fueling greater opportunities to strategically engage shoppers in a way that is more than just an online food distribution catalog, and is more of a lifestyle fulfillment experience. People are passionate about food. Grocers and producers can work together to engage and connect with these passions in an online environment so that online grocery shopping becomes a sustainable strategic part of our fresh produce industry for everyone, ”concludes Beagle.
Watch the discussion here: