New survey of 11,000+ consumers highlights the pervasive shift to digital two years following the onset of the pandemic. Ratings and reviews offer grocers exceptional customer engagement opportunities in this new digital-first era.

MARCH 31, 2022—CHICAGO—Two years into the pandemic, US grocery consumers continue to shift their buying habits online and the way grocers market their products is shifting too. The grocery sector, once a laggard in digital experience, is surging ahead to keep pace with consumer expectations, including the need to showcase social proof via product reviews – on grocery websites and mobile apps.

A new survey of more than 11,000 US consumers reveals over seventy percent of consumers (71%) have made an online grocery or consumer packaged goods (CPG) purchase within the most recent three-month period (compared to 73% a year ago and 17% in 2017), and 72% say they shop online for groceries more now than they did pre-pandemic.

Over half (57%) say the proportion of their grocery spending that occurs online has increased in the last 12 months, with time-savings and the desire to avoid impulse purchases being the two primary motivating factors.

These insights are from a new survey from PowerReviews, a leading provider of ratings and reviews technology solutions. The PowerReviews Meeting Grocery and CPG Shopper Digital Expectations in the Post Pandemic Era study draws on survey responses from 11,162 grocery shoppers across the country, surveyed in February 2022.

The largest portion (28%) of consumers shop for groceries online monthly, and 25% do so once
per week. The top spending categories for online purchases in 2022 are:

  • Non-perishable packaged foods, such as cereal, canned soups, and snack foods: 70%
  • Personal care items, such as soap, shampoo, body wash: 70%
  • Home care items, such as detergent and cleaners: 66%
  • Soft drinks, such as juice, soda and bottled water: 61%
  • Fresh food, such as meat, produce and dairy: 56%
  • Frozen foods: 54%
  • Baby care items, such as baby food and diapers: 20%
  • Alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine and spirits: 20%

While consumers continue to embrace online grocery shopping, nearly all online grocery shoppers (97%) have also shopped in-store for groceries or CPG items within the most recent three months.

While the popularity of online services from non-traditional grocery stores have grown over the past few years (i.e. Amazon Fresh, Drizly.com, etc.), pickup or delivery from traditional grocery or big box stores is still the predominant choice, with 68% of respondents using this option for fulfillment in the 90 days prior to being surveyed.

Strong Digital Experience Key to Engaging Today’s Online Shoppers

As the pandemic unfolded in 2020, the grocery sector witnessed tens of million of grocery app downloads; as a result, grocers today are focused on mobile-first channel-less user experiences. 89% of consumers surveyed say they use their mobile phone in grocery stores to help them shop, up slightly from 87% in 2021, and product ratings and reviews are becoming a key item on shoppers’ digital grocery checklist.

Both online and in-store grocery shoppers value reviews

  • 90% of online grocery shoppers read ratings and reviews at least occasionally – up significantly from 82% in 2021.
    • Younger shoppers consult reviews more frequently when shopping online for grocery and CPG items. Notably, 35% of Gen Z shoppers say they always read ratings and reviews when purchasing grocery items online, compared to 20% of Millennials, 15% of Gen X’ers and 13% of Boomers.
  • 81% of in-store grocery shoppers are at least somewhat interested in being able to access this content and 29% will call or text a friend or family member for opinions on products.
  • 50% of shoppers are more likely to click through to the product page if ratings and reviews are highlighted when browsing for a specific product before navigating to the actual product page.

Ratings and reviews increase shoppers’ likelihood to try a new brand or product

  • 92% of shoppers are open to purchasing products they’ve never tried before, up from 83% last year.
  • 83% say they’re more likely to purchase a product they’ve never tried before if there are reviews from other customers.
  • When shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, 58% of consumers are more likely to purchase an unfamiliar grocery or CPG item if they’re able to read reviews first.

Andrew Smith – VP, Marketing at PowerReviews, says:
“In the post-Covid era, grocery shoppers continue to buy online at high levels. However, a higher percentage of shoppers have also returned to or continued to shop at brick-and-mortar grocery and consumer packaged goods retailers. A hybrid strategy is needed to attract these consumers, because, while it makes sense to invest in digital, grocers can ill-afford to do so at the expense of their brick-and-mortar operations.

“Instead, make it a priority to deliver winning, seamless experiences across all channels. To win, grocers must follow the example set by other more digitally evolved industries. Consumers’ expectations are rising and the time to meet them is now.

“Product reviews are tremendously influential. Make consistently collecting reviews across all your grocery and consumer packaged goods a goal. Then be sure to prominently display this content where both online and in-store shoppers can find it – from in your app and on your website but also incorporated into in-store signage, packaging, and other marketing initiatives.

“While generating reviews across your entire catalog, be sure to focus on those new or recently released brands and products – where they have a particularly big impact. Over the past two years, grocers have been faced with stockouts, often having to source new brands, many of which have less consumer brand recognition. Focusing on reviews for these products can improve sell-through and consumer consideration and adoption of these new brands.”

Research Methodology

The Meeting Grocery and CPG Shopper Digital Expectations in the Post Pandemic Era consumer survey draws on responses from 11,162 active grocery shoppers across the United States who have opted in to offers and discounts from retailers. The survey took place in February 2022. Throughout the survey, we defined Boomers as born in the years 1946 to 1964 (aged 57-75 on Dec 31, 2021), Gen X as born in the years 1965 to 1980 (aged 41-56 on Dec 31, 2021), Millennials as born between 1981-1996 (aged 24-39 on Dec 31, 2021) and Gen Zers born in or after 1997 (ages 32 and younger on Dec 31, 2021).

ABOUT POWERREVIEWS
PowerReviews (PowerReviews.com) The Ratings and Reviews Specialist Doing More with UGC to Grow Your Business. We enable you to collect and share more and better user-generated content, display it for maximum conversion impact and analyze it to benchmark and improve product experiences. PowerReviews is headquartered in Chicago, IL, USA.

Media Contact
Erin Lutz
Lutz Public Relations (for PowerReviews)
erin@lutzpr.com
949-293-1055

The lasting impact of Covid on grocery shopping habits, according to a survey of 11,000+ consumers

Survey at a Glance:

The PowerReviews Meeting Grocery and CPG Shopper Digital Expectations in the Post Pandemic Era study is based on survey responses from 11,162 grocery shoppers across the United States in March 2022 (and is an update of our 2021 study, The Evolution of the Modern Grocery Shopper). Here’s a snapshot of our key findings.

Two Years into the Pandemic, Consumers Continue to Embrace Online Grocery Shopping
  • 71% of consumers have made an online grocery or CPG purchase within the most recent three month period (compared to 73% a year ago and 17% in 2017).
  • 72% say they shop online for groceries more now than they did pre-Covid.
  • For 57% of consumers, online grocery spending has increased in the past 12 months.  
  • Top reasons for online grocery shopping include time savings (66%), avoiding impulse purchases that are common in-store (37%) and personal safety (34%).
  • Pickup or delivery from a traditional grocery or big box store remains the most popular online grocery shopping option; 68% of consumers have done this.
Grocery and CPG Shoppers Still Frequent Brick-and-Mortar Stores
  • 95% of consumers have purchased grocery or CPG items from a brick-and-mortar store within the most recent three month period. 
  • Nearly all online grocery shoppers (97%) have also shopped in-store for groceries or CPG items within the most recent three months. 
Both Online and In-Store Grocery Shoppers Have an Appetite for Ratings and Reviews
  • 90% of online grocery shoppers read ratings and reviews at least occasionally. This is up from 82% last year. 
  • Top categories for which online grocery shoppers want to access reviews include personal care items (79%), home care items (72%), non-perishable packaged foods (49%), frozen foods (41%) and soft drinks (37%), among others. 
  • 81% of consumers are at least somewhat interested in accessing ratings and reviews while in a brick-and-mortar grocery store.
Ratings and Reviews Increase Shoppers’ Likelihood to Try a New Brand or Product
  • 92% of shoppers are open to purchasing products they’ve never tried before, up from 83% last year.
  • 83% of those purchasing grocery and CPG products online say they’re more likely to purchase a product they’ve never tried before if there are reviews from other customers.
  • When shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, 58% of consumers are more likely to purchase an unfamiliar grocery or CPG item if they’re able to read reviews first.
Chapter 1

Introduction

The Pandemic Has Had a Lasting Impact on The Way We Shop for Groceries

When the pandemic first hit and stay-at-home orders were put in place, the shopping habits of many consumers quickly shifted. Namely, they cut back on trips to brick-and-mortar stores and instead flocked online to purchase what they needed – including groceries. 

As a result, online grocery, a category that has historically trailed behind other ecommerce categories, experienced explosive growth. According to eMarketer, in 2020, grocery ecommerce grew 54% year-over-year. And our own research early last year found that 73% of consumers had made a grocery or CPG purchase online, up from 17% in 2017.

In 2020, grocery ecommerce grew 54% year-over-year.

Today, we’re more than two years into the pandemic. Though Covid isn’t over, vaccines are now widely available. And many consumers have settled into their “new normal.” 

But have grocery shopping behaviors regressed back to pre-pandemic times? Or have some of those new habits stuck? 

Recently, we surveyed 11,162 U.S. consumers to understand where they’re shopping for groceries, how they’re navigating the purchase journey across channels, and what information they’re using to make informed purchase journeys. 

In this report, we’ll explore the key findings from this survey. We’ll also discuss how grocery and CPG shopping behaviors and expectations vary based on demographics, as well as how habits have evolved in the past year since we last fielded a similar survey. 

Consumers have many options when it comes to purchasing grocery and CPG items. Understanding the habits and expectations of these shoppers can empower you to refine your strategy to attract and convert more of them – wherever they opt to spend their grocery and CPG budgets.

Chapter 2

Who We Surveyed

This report is based on a survey conducted in March 2022 of 11,162 US consumers. Here’s a closer look at who we surveyed.

Generations

Gen Z
(1997-present)
1%
Millennials
(1981-1996)
50%
Gen X
(1965-1980)
36%
Baby Boomers
(1946-1964)
13%

US Census Region

Midwest
25%
Northeast
19%
South
39%
West
17%

Type of Geographical Location

A large city with a population of 500,000+
18%
Suburban area within 30 miles of a major city
37%
A city with a population between 50,000 - 500,000
19%
A city/town with a population below 50,000
26%

Income

$0-$25,000
11%
$26,000-$50,000
20%
$51,000-$75,000
19%
$76,00-$100,000
15%
$100,000+
30%
Prefer not to say
5%

Overall (Grocery and Non-Grocery) Monthly Online Spend for Household

$0
4%
$1-$250
34%
$251-$500
32%
$501-$1,000
22%
$1,001-$2,000
6%
$2,000+
2%
Chapter 3

Where Consumers Shop for Groceries & CPG Items (and How Often They Do So)

These days, consumers have nearly endless options when they’re shopping for just about any product category – including groceries and CPG.

Are the majority of consumers browsing and buying grocery and CPG products online? Or are they navigating the aisles of physical store locations to get what they need?

The answer lies somewhere in the middle. 

Online Grocery Growth Has Leveled Off

In the past, consumers remained reluctant to shop for groceries online. But when the pandemic initially hit, more consumers than ever before gave online grocery shopping a try. In 2021, 73% of the consumers we surveyed said they’d made an online grocery purchase in the past three months – compared with 17% who said this was the case in 2017.

Today, many consumers continue to shop online for groceries. In fact, 71% of consumers have made an online grocery purchase in the past three months. While this is down slightly from last year, it’s proof positive that online grocery shopping isn’t going away.

Many Consumers Continue to Purchase Groceries Online
Have you made an online grocery purchase in the past 3 months? (i.e. from Instacart or similar, Amazon Fresh or similar, Walmart.com, Target.com, your local grocery store(s) etc.)
2017
17%
2021
73%
2022
71%

Prevalence of Online Grocery Shopping Varies Based on Many Factors

The popularity of shopping for groceries online depends on many factors. Our survey shed light on three: age, geographical location and income. 

Interestly, Boomers are the generation least likely to shop online for groceries; 53% do so. Millennials, on the other hand, are the group most likely to shop for groceries online. 77% do so. 

Many Consumers Continue to Purchase Groceries Online
Have you made an online grocery purchase in the past 3 months? (i.e. from Instacart or similar, Amazon Fresh or similar, Walmart.com, Target.com, your local grocery store(s) etc.)
Gen Z
69%
Millennials
77%
Gen X
70%
Boomers
53%

In terms of geography, large city dwellers are the group most likely to purchase groceries online, with 77% doing so. In comparison, 65% of those in small cities and towns with a population below 50,000 shop online for groceries. This makes sense, as there are typically more options for consumers living in larger cities. 

Online Grocery Shopping by Geography
Have you made an online grocery purchase in the past 3 months? (i.e. from Instacart or similar, Amazon Fresh or similar, Walmart.com, Target.com, your local grocery store(s) etc.)
A large city with a population of 500,000+
77%
A suburban area within 30 miles of a major city
71%
A city with a population between 50,000 - 500,000
74%
A city/town with a population below 50,000
65%

In addition, higher income is correlated with an increased likelihood of online grocery shopping. 61% of shoppers who make $25,000 or less shop online for groceries, compared to 76% of those making $100,000 or more. A possible explanation is that online grocery shopping can come with additional costs, such as item markups and delivery charges. And those with tight budgets can’t afford those additional expenses. Or they perhaps believe they may be more able to shop cost efficiently in person.

Online Grocery Shopping By Household Income
Have you made an online grocery purchase in the past 3 months? (i.e. from Instacart or similar, Amazon Fresh or similar, Walmart.com, Target.com, your local grocery store(s) etc.)
$0-$25,000
61%
$26,000-$50,000
69%
$51,000-$75,000
72%
$76,000-$100,000
73%
$100,000+
76%
Prefer not to say
64%

Covid Has Had Long-Term Impact on Where Consumers Shop

It’s no secret that Covid has had an impact on where many consumers opt to shop for groceries. This year, 62% of consumers indicate they shop online for groceries more now than they did pre-Covid. Last year, 61% of consumers said this was the case.

Covid Has Had a Lasting Impact on Where Consumers Shop for Groceries
Which of the following best describes how Covid has impacted your online grocery shopping?
"I shop online for groceries more now than I did before Covid."
2021
61%
2022
62%
"I shop online for groceries less now than I did before Covid."
2021
2%
2022
3%
"Covid hasn't impacted my online grocery shopping habits."
2021
37%
2022
35%

Why Consumers Shop Online for Groceries

Many consumers shop online for groceries. What are their motivations for doing so? The top reason is that it saves time; 66% indicate this is a reason they choose to purchase groceries online. 

Of note and possibly unsurprising, personal safety seems to be less of a concern now. 

Top Reasons Consumers Purchase Groceries Online: 2021 vs 2022
Why do you choose to purchase grocery items online?
It saves time
2021
59%
2022
66%
It helps me avoid impulse purchases that often happen in-store
2021
31%
2022
37%
Personal safety (i.e. reduce risk of Covid exposure)
2021
49%
2022
34%
It’s easier to compare products and prices online
2021
24%
2022
29%
I can easily access information about products, including product reviews
2021
22%
2022
27%
It’s difficult to get to a grocery store
2021
20%
2022
23%

Consumers Still Frequent Brick-and-Mortar Establishments

A large portion of consumers purchase grocery and CPG products online. Does this mean grocery stores have become ghost towns? 

Hardly.

Nearly all (95%) of consumers have purchased a grocery or CPG product in a brick-and-mortar store within the last three months. This is up slightly from 2021, when 93% shopped in-store for groceries.

Brick-and-Mortar Grocery Continues to Thrive
Have you or anyone in your household made an in-store grocery purchase in the last three months?
2021
93%
2022
95%

When it comes to grocery shopping, it’s not a case of online versus in-store shopping. That’s because most consumers are doing both. In fact, 97% of those who shop online for groceries also shopped in-store during the same time period.

97% of those who have shopped for groceries online during the last 90 days have also shopped in-store during the same time period.

Grocery and CPG brands and retailers must be equipped to reach consumers – and meet their expectations – regardless of whether they shop online, in-store, or, most commonly, some combination of the two.

How Often Consumers Shop For Groceries Across all Channels

We have a clear idea of where consumers are shopping for groceries. But how often are they doing so? The most common frequency is a few times per week.

Consumers Grocery Shop Frequently
Approximately, how often do you or your household shop for groceries (either in-store or online)?
Daily
4%
A few times per week
45%
Once per week
42%
Monthly
7%
Once every 3 months +
2%
Chapter 4

How Consumers Browse and Buy Groceries and CPG Products Online

The vast majority of consumers are purchasing at least a portion of their groceries and CPG items online. Let’s take a closer look at how frequently these consumers shop online, how they’re navigating the purchase journey, and where they’re most frequently shopping. 

A Growing Portion of the Grocery Budget is Spent Online

We know the vast majority of consumers are doing a combination of online and in-store grocery shopping. But for many, a growing portion of the grocery budget is spent online. 

Over half (57%) say the proportion of their grocery spend that occurs online has increased in the last 12 months. A third (32%) indicate their online grocery spending has stayed the same, and only 11% claim it’s decreased. 

Over Half of Consumers Have Ramped Up Online Grocery Shopping
In the last 12 months, would you say the proportion of your grocery spend that occurs ONLINE has:
Increased
57%
Decreased
11%
Stayed the same
32%

Precisely how much are shoppers spending online on grocery and CPG items each month? 

The largest portion of shoppers – 49% – spend $250 or less online each month on groceries and CPG items. And 22% spend between $251 and $500.

Most Shoppers Spend $500 or Less Online Each Month on Groceries
Approximately how much do you personally spend online on GROCERY (i.e. items listed above) per month on average?
$0
17%
$1 - 250
49%
$251 - $500
22%
$501 - $1,000
10%
$1,001 - $2,000
2%

Consumers Shop for Groceries Online Less Frequently Than Average

We know the largest portion of shoppers (45%) shop for groceries across all channels (both online and in-store) a few times per week, and 42% do so once per week. Are consumers shopping online at the same frequency? 

In general, consumers are shopping online less frequently. The largest portion (28%) of consumers shop for groceries online monthly, and 25% do so once per week. 

However, 57% say they’re spending more online than they did 12 months ago. A likely explanation is that they’re placing larger, less frequent orders – perhaps loading up on shelf-stable goods, such as pantry items and CPG products.

Frequency of Online Grocery Shopping
Approximately, how often do you or anyone in your household shop for groceries ONLINE?
Daily
1%
A few times per week
14%
Once per week
25%
Monthly
28%
Every 3 months
11%
Every year
3%
Less often than every year
18%

Pickup or Delivery from a Traditional Grocery or Big Box Store Remains the Most Popular Option

We know how frequently consumers are shopping online for groceries – and how much they’re spending. But where exactly are they going to spend their online grocery shopping dollars? 

Pickup or delivery from a traditional grocery or big box store is the most popular option, as was the case last year. 68% of shoppers have taken advantage of this service, compared to 65% in 2021.

Most Popular Online Grocery Services
Which of the following have you used or ordered over the past three months?
Pickup or delivery from traditional grocery or big box store:
2017
38%
2021
65%
2022
68%
An exclusively online service not affiliated with a traditional grocery store (e.g. Amazon Fresh, Drizly.com or similar):
2017
39%
2021
22%
2022
26%
Third party service that pairs you with a personal shopper who then buys your groceries from grocery store and then delivers to your home (e.g. Instacart):
2017
17%
2021
20%
2022
22%
Meal boxes (i.e. Blue Apron, Home Chef, Hello Fresh or similar):
2017
34%
2021
15%
2022
18%

Shoppers Add Many Types of Grocery Items to Their Online Shopping Baskets

Last year when we asked grocery shoppers what types of products they typically purchase online, non-perishable foods topped the list. This year, this category remains at the top of the list; it’s tied with personal care CPG items, such as soap, shampoo, and body wash. 

However, it seems no grocery categories are off bets from online shoppers – including beverages, fresh food, and frozen items. 

Consumers Purchase Myriad Grocery Products Online
What types of products do you typically purchase when using online grocery services?
Non-perishable packaged foods, such as cereal, canned soups, and snack foods:
2017
58%
2021
70%
2022
70%
Personal care items, such as soap, shampoo, body wash:
2017
49%
2021
64%
2022
70%
Home care items, such as detergent and cleaners:
2017
45%
2021
61%
2022
66%
Soft drinks, such as juice, soda and bottled water:
2017
33%
2021
58%
2022
61%
Fresh food, such as meat, produce and dairy:
2017
47%
2021
56%
2022
56%
Frozen foods:
2017
32%
2021
54%
2022
54%
Baby care items, such as baby food and diapers:
* Not an option in 2017 & 2021
2022
20%
Alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine and spirits:
2017
12%
2021
17%
2022
20%

Many are Willing to Try New Brands and Products

As mentioned earlier, one of the top reasons consumers shop for groceries online is that it helps them avoid impulse purchases that often happen in-store. So, are most online shoppers sticking to their tried and true products? Or are they open to trying new options – sight unseen?

The vast majority – 92% – indicate they’re open to buying products they’ve never tried before, up from 83% last year.

Increasingly, Online Grocery Shoppers are Open to New Products
When shopping for groceries online, are you open to buying products you’ve never tried before?
2021
83%
2022
92%

Consistent with last year’s results, Boomers are the group least likely to be open to buying new products, while Gen Z shoppers are the most likely.

Younger Shoppers are More Open to New Products
When shopping for groceries online, are you open to buying products you’ve never tried before?
Gen Z
94%
Millennials
93%
Gen X
91%
Boomers
84%

In addition, consumers with higher incomes are more willing to try new products than their lower-earning counterparts. This makes sense, as they likely have more disposable income – and thus the risk is lower if they don’t like a product. 

Higher Income Correlates with Openness to Try New Products
When shopping for groceries online, are you open to buying products you’ve never tried before?
$0-$25,000
88%
$26,000-$50,000
91%
$51,000-$75,000
92%
$76,00-$100,000
93%
$100,000+
93%

Also of note, 25% of shoppers say they’re more open to buying a new grocery or CPG product they’ve never tried before when shopping online than they would be when shopping in-store. This is up slightly from 21% last year. Over half (55%) say they’re as open to buying a new (to them) grocery or CPG product when shopping online as they are when shopping in-store. 

Those shopping for groceries online don’t need to see a new (to them) product in person to be willing to try it. Later on in this report, we’ll explore what gives these shoppers the confidence to buy unknown grocery products, sight unseen.

Consumers Don’t Need to See a New Product in Person to be Open to Buying It
When shopping for groceries online, are you more or less open to buying products you’ve never tried before than when you shop for groceries in-store?
2021
More
21%
Less
21%
The Same
58%
2022
More
25%
Less
20%
The Same
55%
Chapter 5

The Impact of Reviews on Online Grocery and CPG Shopping

A large (and growing) portion of consumers turn to reviews to make informed purchase decisions. But do consumers read reviews when shopping for grocery and CPG products? And does the presence of this content have any impact on purchase likelihood?

Online Grocery Shoppers Frequently Consult Ratings and Reviews

The vast majority of online grocery shoppers – 90% – read ratings and reviews at least occasionally, up significantly from 82% last year.

Clearly, reviews are becoming increasingly important for grocery and CPG shoppers.

Consumers Don’t Need to See a New Product in Person to be Open to Buying It
When shopping for groceries online, are you more or less open to buying products you’ve never tried before than when you shop for groceries in-store?
2021
Always
17%
Regularly
25%
Sometimes
26%
Occasionally
14%
Never
18%
2022
Always
18%
Regularly
28%
Sometimes
25%
Occasionally
19%
Never
10%

As expected, younger shoppers consult reviews more frequently when shopping online for grocery and CPG items. Notably, 35% of Gen Z shoppers say they always read ratings and reviews when purchasing grocery items online, compared to 15% of Gen X’ers and 13% of Boomers. In addition, a mere 5% of Gen Z’ers indicate they never read reviews when shopping online for groceries and CPG items, compared to 13% of Boomers. 

Consumers Don’t Need to See a New Product in Person to be Open to Buying It
When shopping for groceries online, are you more or less open to buying products you’ve never tried before than when you shop for groceries in-store?
Gen Z
Always
35%
Regularly
27%
Sometimes
23%
Occasionally
10%
Never
5%
Millennials
Always
20%
Regularly
28%
Sometimes
25%
Occasionally
17%
Never
10%
Gen X
Always
15%
Regularly
27%
Sometimes
27%
Occasionally
20%
Never
11%
Boomers
Always
13%
Regularly
27%
Sometimes
25%
Occasionally
22%
Never
13%

Also of note, those with higher overall monthly online spending consult reviews more frequently than those who spend less online each month. 21% of those who spend $2,001+ and 25% of those who spend $1,000-$2,000 always consult reviews. In comparison, 15% of those who spend $1-$250 always consult reviews when shopping for groceries online.

Consumers Don’t Need to See a New Product in Person to be Open to Buying It
When shopping for groceries online, are you more or less open to buying products you’ve never tried before than when you shop for groceries in-store?
$0 Average Monthly Overall Spend
Always
19%
Regularly
15%
Sometimes
17%
Occasionally
15%
Never
34%
$1-$250 Average Monthly Overall Spend
Always
15%
Regularly
26%
Sometimes
27%
Occasionally
21%
Never
11%
$251-$500 Average Monthly Overall Spend
Always
20%
Regularly
28%
Sometimes
25%
Occasionally
18%
Never
9%
$501-$1,000 Average Monthly Overall Spend
Always
16%
Regularly
30%
Sometimes
26%
Occasionally
18%
Never
10%
$1,001-$2,000 Average Monthly Overall Spend
Always
25%
Regularly
27%
Sometimes
21%
Occasionally
16%
Never
11%
$2,001+ Average Monthly Overall Spend
Always
21%
Regularly
31%
Sometimes
25%
Occasionally
15%
Never
8%

Many Online Grocery Services Fail to Meet Shopper Expectations

While 90% of consumers read reviews when shopping online for groceries, less than half (47%) can confidently say there are reviews available for the online grocery service they primarily use. 

If you aren’t providing reviews, shoppers must look elsewhere for this content. And when they do, they’re likely to get distracted – and spend their grocery and CPG dollars elsewhere.  

Many Online Grocery Options Services Aren’t Providing Shoppers with Reviews
Are there product reviews available for the online grocery service you primarily use?
Yes
47%
No
10%
Unsure
43%

Online Grocery Shoppers Value Various UGC Elements

Many online grocery shoppers consult ratings and reviews and other types of user-generated content (UGC). What elements of UGC content do shoppers value most?

The greatest portion of shoppers (66%) pay attention to average star rating, followed closely by customer opinions on specific extra details relevant to the product (64%) – for example, freshness of product or packaging of dry food.

Over half (55%) of shoppers pay attention to the quantity of reviews, and 49% take note of customer questions and answers on the page. A significant portion of online shoppers pay attention to customer-submitted imagery (38%) and customer-submitted videos (17%).

Be sure you’re generating a steady stream of UGC for your grocery products, including reviews, Q&A, photos, and videos. Consumers pay attention to it – and its presence can positively impact purchase behavior. 

UGC Elements Most Valued by Online Grocery Shoppers
When considering whether to buy a grocery item, which of the following do you pay attention to?
2021
Average star rating
65%
Customer opinion on specific extra details relevant to the product (freshness for fruit and vegetables, packaging for dry food, etc)
67%
Volume of reviews (the more reviews, the more credible it seems)
53%
Customer-answered questions and answers on the page
50%
Customer-submitted imagery
36%
Customer-submitted videos
16%
2022
Average star rating
66%
Customer opinion on specific extra details relevant to the product (freshness for fruit and vegetables, packaging for dry food, etc)
64%
Volume of reviews (the more reviews, the more credible it seems)
55%
Customer-answered questions and answers on the page
49%
Customer-submitted imagery
38%
Customer-submitted videos
17%

Reviews Attract Customers – and Increase Click Through

When browsing for grocery and CPG products online, consumers don’t typically navigate directly to a product page. Instead, they start their search on a search engine or navigate to a grocery service or retailer’s homepage.

Reviews influence where they go from there. Half of online grocery shoppers say they’re more likely to click through to a product page from a search engine or a grocery service’s home page if there are ratings and reviews highlighted in those locations, up slightly from 47% last year.

Reviews Motivate Online Shoppers to Learn More About Grocery and CPG Products
When browsing for a specific product before navigating to the actual product page (e.g. when browsing the search results, homepages or elsewhere in the site), are you more or less likely to click through to the product page if ratings and reviews are highlighted here?
2021
More
47%
Less
4%
No difference
49%
2022
More
50%
Less
4%
No difference
46%

Younger shoppers are even more likely to be enticed to click through by the presence of reviews. 68% of Gen Z’ers and 56% of Millennials are more likely to click through to a product page (from a search engine or home page) if there are reviews present.

Be sure to include reviews on your home page, category pages, search engine ads, and other digital advertisements. It’s a surefire way to increase clickthrough.

Reviews Give Online Grocery Shoppers Confidence to Try Unfamiliar Brands and Products

Nearly all grocery shoppers (92%) are willing to try grocery and CPG products they’ve never tried before when shopping online. But there’s always risk involved with purchasing a product you don’t have experience with – especially when you can’t touch and see the product. 

Reviews can help shoppers overcome that risk. 

83% of online grocery shoppers indicate they’re more likely to purchase a grocery item they’ve never purchased before if there are customer reviews for that product, up from 78% in 2021.

Reviews Increase the Likelihood an Online Shopper will Try a New Brand or Product
When shopping for groceries online, are you more likely to purchase a grocery item that you’ve never purchased before if there are customer reviews for that product?
2017
72%
2021
78%
2022
83%

The presence of reviews is even more likely to boost purchase likelihood among younger shoppers. 93% of Gen Z’ers and 85% of Millennials say they’re more likely to purchase an unknown grocery or CPG item if there are reviews available for it.

Generational Comparison: How Reviews Impact Likelihood of Trying New Grocery or CPG Products
Are you more likely to purchase a grocery item that you’ve never purchased before if there are customer reviews for that product?
Gen Z
93%
Millennials
85%
Gen X
81%
Boomers
75%

Reviews can give shoppers the confidence they need to try a new brand or product. Be sure to generate plenty of reviews across your product catalog – especially for new products and lesser known brands. 

Chapter 6

Giving Online Grocery and CPG Shoppers the Type of Reviews They Want, Where They Want Them

There was a time that consumers had no choice but to head to the grocery store to pick up food, drinks, home care, and personal care items. But today, that’s no longer the case. Instead, grocery shoppers have more options than ever before. 

In a competitive market, brands and retailers must work extra hard to meet the needs of online shoppers. One way of doing this is to provide grocery shoppers with reviews, which they so clearly are seeking out. 

But what types of grocery and CPG products do consumers want to find reviews for? And where do they want to find this content? 

Online Shoppers are Hungry for Reviews Across Categories

We know 90% of consumers read product reviews when shopping online for grocery and CPG items. But are there categories for which this content is particularly important? 

Again this year, two categories rise about the rest. 79% of consumers want to access product reviews for personal care items (think soap, shampoo and body wash) and 72% want to access this content for home care items (think detergent and cleaners).

However, a significant portion of online shoppers want to be able to find ratings and reviews for each of the types of grocery and CPG items we asked about. As such, it’s imperative to collect reviews across all grocery and CPG products.

Online Shoppers Want Reviews for Many Types of Grocery and CPG Products
What types of products do you want to access product reviews for prior to purchase?
Personal care items, such as soap, shampoo, body wash:
2017
68%
2021
76%
2022
79%
Home care items, such as detergent and cleaners:
2017
54%
2021
70%
2022
72%
Non-perishable packaged foods, such as cereal, canned soups, and snack foods:
2017
45%
2021
54%
2022
49%
Frozen foods:
2017
39%
2021
46%
2022
41%
Soft drinks, such as juice, soda and bottled water:
2017
23%
2021
40%
2022
37%
Fresh food, such as meat, produce and dairy:
2017
31%
2021
42%
2022
35%
Alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine and spirits:
2017
21%
2021
25%
2022
25%
Baby care items, such as baby food and diapers:
* Not an option in 2017
2021
25%
2022
24%

Online Grocery Shoppers Don’t Want to Look Hard to Find Reviews

Consumers want to be able to find reviews for many different types of grocery products. And they don’t want to have to go searching for this content.

As was the case last year, the majority of shoppers (79%) want to access product reviews directly on the website or app they purchase from. Four in ten shoppers want to be able to find reviews for products they’re considering on Amazon, while 27% want to find this content via a search engine.  

Online Grocery Shoppers Want Reviews Where They Shop
Where do you want to access product reviews prior to purchase?
2021
Directly on the website or app where I purchase
80%
Amazon
40%
Search engine
27%
Third party reviewers/review sites
22%
2022
Directly on the website or app where I purchase
79%
Amazon
41%
Search engine
27%
Third party reviewers/review sites
22%
Chapter 7

How Consumers Navigate the Aisles of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery Stores

Today, most consumers spend a portion of their grocery and CPG budget online. However, they’re certainly not abandoning stores altogether. 

As we mentioned earlier, a whopping 95% of consumers have made a grocery or CPG purchase in a brick-and-mortar store within the most recent three months. 

However, there’s no doubt we’re seeing some significant shifts in how consumers shop in grocery stores – and what criteria they’re using to assess potential purchases.

Consumers Rely on Mobile Phones to Aid In-Store Grocery Shopping

These days, consumers don’t go anywhere without their phones. So it’s not surprising that 89% of consumers say they use their mobile phone in grocery stores to help them shop, up slightly from 87% in 2021.

In-Store Grocery Shoppers Use Their Mobile Phones for Many Activities

How are consumers using their mobile phones to aid in their in-store shopping? 68% use their mobile phone to find or redeem coupons, making it the most popular activity. In-store grocery shoppers also use their mobile phones to review shopping lists (47%), read product ratings and reviews (46%) and search for competitor prices (45%). 

Of note, consumers are significantly more likely to use their phone in-store to read ratings and reviews and search for competitor prices this year than they were in 2021. This reflects the growing importance of reviews, as well as increased price sensitivity, given increasing inflation. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (reported in Grocery Dive), food-at-home prices grew 8.6% during the past year, which is the fastest pace of growth since 1981.

How Consumers Use Their Mobile Phones in Grocery Stores
How have you used your mobile phone in grocery stores to help you shop?
Find or redeem coupons
2017
32%
2021
67%
2022
68%
Review shopping lists
2017
30%
2021
47%
2022
47%
Read product ratings and reviews
2017
17%
2021
42%
2022
46%
Search for competitor prices
2017
16%
2021
27%
2022
45%
Browse recipes
2017
20%
2021
35%
2022
36%
Call or text a friend or family member for opinions on products
* Not an option in 2017 & 2021
2022
29%
Chapter 8

The Impact of Reviews on In-Store Grocery Shopping Behavior

Previous research found that over half of consumers read reviews when shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. 

Our most recent research found that grocery shoppers are no exception. They want to be able to find reviews, and the presence of this content positively impacts their purchase behavior.

Most In-Store Grocery Shoppers Want Reviews for Unfamiliar Products

Consumers may not typically consult reviews when buying familiar grocery products. However, this content can help them learn more about products that are new to them.

81% of consumers are at least somewhat interested in accessing product ratings and reviews while shopping in a grocery store; 31% are very interested. 

In-Store Shoppers Want Reviews for New (to Them) Grocery Products
When considering a new grocery product, how interested are you in accessing product ratings and reviews while shopping in a grocery store?
2021
Very interested
33%
Interested
24%
Somewhat interested
26%
Not interested
17%
2022
Very interested
31%
Interested
24%
Somewhat interested
26%
Not interested
19%

Of note, Gen Z shoppers are the generation most likely to be very interested in accessing product ratings and reviews when considering a new (or new to them) product in a grocery store. 

Younger In-Store Shoppers Have a Bigger Appetite for Reviews for New Grocery Products
When considering a new grocery product, how interested are you in accessing product ratings and reviews while shopping in a grocery store?
Gen Z
Very interested
48%
Interested
25%
Somewhat interested
17%
Not interested
10%
Millennials
Very interested
35%
Interested
24%
Somewhat interested
25%
Not interested
16%
Gen X
Very interested
28%
Interested
25%
Somewhat interested
25%
Not interested
22%
Boomers
Very interested
23%
Interested
21%
Somewhat interested
31%
Not interested
25%

But make no mistake: a significant portion of consumers across all generations are interested in accessing reviews for new grocery and CPG products they’re considering while shopping in-store. Make sure they can find what they’re looking for. 

The Presence of Reviews Boosts Purchase Likelihood In-Store

There’s risk involved with straying away from tried-and-true products. But as it turns out, the presence of reviews can help in-store shoppers overcome that risk.

When shopping in a brick-and-mortar grocery store, over half (58%) of consumers are more likely to purchase a grocery item they’ve never bought before if they’re able to read customer reviews first. 

Reviews Boost In-Store Grocery Shoppers’ Confidence
While shopping in a grocery store, are you more likely to purchase a grocery item that you’ve never purchased before if you are able to read customer reviews for that product (either while or before shopping)?
Yes
58%
No
8%
Makes no difference
34%

When considering new products, younger in-store shoppers are even more likely to be swayed by reviews. 78% of Gen Z’ers and 63% of Millennials say they’re more likely to purchase a new (to them) product while shopping in a grocery store if there are reviews available for the product in question, compared to 54% of Gen X’ers and 49% of Boomers.

Younger Shoppers are Especially Swayed by Reviews for New (to Them) Products
While shopping in a grocery store, are you more likely to purchase a grocery item that you’ve never purchased before if you are able to read customer reviews for that product (either while or before shopping)?
Gen Z
Yes
78%
No
7%
Makes no difference
15%
Millennials
Yes
63%
No
7%
Makes no difference
30%
Gen X
Yes
54%
No
8%
Makes no difference
38%
Boomers
Yes
49%
No
9%
Makes no difference
42%

Where In-Store Grocery Shoppers Want to Access Ratings and Reviews

When considering a new (or new to them) product in a grocery store, the majority of consumers are interested in accessing ratings and reviews. And this content can positively impact the likelihood they’ll purchase the product in question.

But where do in-store grocery shoppers want to access this content?

As was the case last year, the largest portion of shoppers (49% both this year and last) want to be able to access ratings and reviews through the store’s mobile app.

However, many shoppers also want to be able to find ratings and reviews in the store itself – including shelf tags, product packaging, and store displays.

Where In-store Grocery Shoppers Want to Find Reviews
When receiving communications from a grocery provider or shopping in a grocery store, where do you want to see ratings and reviews?
Through the store’s app
2021
49%
2022
49%
On your mobile phone while in the store
* Not an option in 2021
2022
43%
The shelf tag (cooler door for fresh goods/shelf for dry goods by price label)
2021
35%
2022
39%
Social media (e.g. Instagram and Facebook posts etc)
2021
31%
2022
31%
On the packaging of the actual item
2021
30%
2022
30%
On store displays, like in the lobby or on ends of aisles
* Not an option in 2021
2022
26%
Within emails you receive from the store
2021
26%
2022
23%
Within mailed ads and other promotional materials you receive like a weekly sales flier
2021
25%
2022
23%
Large display boards as you shop around the store
2021
16%
2022
17%
Chapter 9

5 Key Takeaways for Grocery Brands and Retailers

Grocery shopping sure looks a lot different than it did in early 2020. Brands and retailers must adapt their approaches to attract and convert grocery and CPG shoppers, whether they’re shopping online, in-store, or some combination of the two.

Here are our five key takeaways from our latest survey.

One
Online Grocery Shopping is Here to Stay

Some expected consumers to return to their pre-Covid shopping habits once vaccines were widely available. But that hasn’t been the case. 

Today, 71% of consumers have purchased grocery or CPG products online in the most recent three months, driven by motivations including time savings, less likelihood of impulse purchases, and safety, among others. And over half say the portion of their grocery and CPG budget that’s spent online has increased in the last 12 months. 

Online grocery and CPG shoppers have nearly endless options. You must ensure you have a strong strategy in place to attract these consumers.

Two
In-Store Grocery Shopping Continues to Thrive

Though consumers are embracing the convenience of browsing and buying groceries online, that doesn’t mean brick-and-mortar grocery is dead. 

95% of those we surveyed have made a grocery or CPG purchase in a brick-and-mortar store in the most recent 90 days. And 97% of online grocery shoppers also shop in-store.

While it makes sense to invest in digital, don’t do so at the peril of your brick-and-mortar locations. Instead, make it a priority to deliver winning, seamless experiences across all channels. 

Three
Online and In-Store Grocery Shoppers Alike Value Reviews

Grocery and CPG shoppers leverage ratings and reviews to make informed purchase decisions, wherever they shop.

90% of online grocery shoppers read ratings and reviews at least occasionally. And 81% of in-store grocery shoppers are at least somewhat interested in being able to access this content.

Make it a priority to collect a high volume of reviews across all of your grocery and CPG products.

And then once collected, be sure to prominently display this content where both online and in-store shoppers can find it. Of course, this means showcasing reviews on your website and mobile app. But in addition, look for opportunities to enhance in-store signage, packaging, and other marketing initiatives with star ratings and review content.

Four
Reviews are Especially Important for Unknown Grocery and CPG Products

Most consumers don’t consult reviews for grocery and CPG items they habitually purchase – such as diapers or cereal. However, most consumers are open to trying new grocery brands and products. And the availability of reviews can positively impact whether or not they follow through with a purchase. 

83% of consumers are more likely to purchase an unknown grocery or CPG item online if there are reviews for it. And 58% of consumers say this is the case when they’re shopping in-store. 

While it’s important to generate reviews across your entire catalog, be sure to focus on those new or recently released brands and products. Product sampling is a great way to quickly generate a high volume of reviews prior to launching a new product – or for lesser known brands and products in need of additional review coverage.

Five
Grocery Brands and Retailers Must Consistently Measure and Optimize Accordingly

Clearly, reviews are an important resource for both online and in-store grocery and CPG shoppers. If you’re looking to grow market share, you’ve got to make it a priority to collect and display more of this content so consumers can find it, wherever they shop.

When you’re developing your collecting and display strategies, it’s great to start with best practices – especially those that are specific to your industry. However, every business is different, and what works for one might not work for all. 

With that in mind, you must consistently measure the performance of your UGC programs. When you do, you’ll shed light on opportunities to improve your collection and display efforts – and start more effectively attracting and converting grocery and CPG shoppers. 

BFA is the parent company of IPSY (the largest beauty subscription service in the world) and BoxyCharm (the #1 searched beauty box brand on YouTube and – according to Inc. – one of the fastest growing companies in the US).

Over the course of their history, IPSY and BoxyCharm have amassed a huge ratings and reviews footprint from a highly enthusiastic member community. In total, the two brands combined have captured 82 million product ratings and reviews – which equates to more than 10,000 reviews per product on average. On average, they collect more than 1.6 million reviews per month. 

Join Doak Sergent (VP Brand Partner Strategy) and Natasha Zaveri (Manager, Brand Partnerships at BFA/IPSY/BoxyCharm) to hear:

  • An overview of the BFA ratings and reviews collection strategy
  • How BFA has used review content content historically and how this has evolved
  • Need to knows for brands about BFA’s review syndication program launching this month
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