People who don’t already shop for groceries online aren’t likely to start. Brand name is the most important factor in whether consumers are willing to pay extra. And companies that want to sell more products should label them “fresh,” but stay away from “vegan.”

These are the key takeaways from Morning Consult’s latest food and beverage consumer trends survey. The survey sought to uncover how consumers feel about buying groceries online, what factors influence their purchasing decisions, and what words make labels more and less appealing.

Online grocery shopping

One-third of adults have purchased packaged food and beverage products online, Morning Consult found. Men and people who earn $100,000 or more are the consumers most likely to buy their groceries this way, and convenience is by far the most common reason they do so.

The report didn’t break the respondents into age groups, but a previous study showed that 18-29 year-olds are the most likely to buy groceries online and that the likelihood decreases with age. This may contribute to the fact that Millennials take fewer monthly trips to the grocery store than older generations.

Morning Consult also found that people don’t shop online very often — 56% do it only a few times a year — and that they mostly buy just a few items as needed, rather than buying in bulk or purchasing all of their groceries for the week.

Finally, of the people who haven’t yet purchased groceries online, most have no interest. Only one-third said they would be open to the idea in the future.

Factors affecting purchasing decisions

The survey also asked what would make people choose a product over a lower-priced alternative. These are the top three factors:

  • A brand name you know and like (45%)
  • Made in the United States (37%)
  • Made locally (32%)

Brand names were most important for soda and coffee/tea, and least important for canned goods and grains/pastas. Packaging and sustainability considerations were at the bottom of the list, which lends support to previous research showing consumers don’t even notice sustainability claims.

Labels that sell

Finally, Morning Consult assessed what label claims make products more or less appealing. By far, consumers want food that is “fresh” — more than 8 in 10 respondents said this label makes products more appealing. On the other hand, only 17% said “vegan” foods are more appealing, with 35% saying this label actually makes products less appealing. Younger consumers are more interested in vegan and organic foods than older ones.

Overall, Morning Consult’s results show that online grocery shopping still has a ways to go before it becomes mainstream, brands still matter, and the demand for freshness extends even to packaged foods.

Get more insights in the full report.

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