The Digital Go-to-Market: Shoppers Now Buying Groceries Online at More Than Four Times the Rate of Purchase in 2017

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

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