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Getting to know the early adopters

As grocers develop their e-comm strategies, they should be mindful of what makes this group tick


Amanda Bourlier is a research consultant at Euromonitor International, an independent provider of strategic market research.

The prevalence of omnichannel shopping and fast mobile internet connections are positioning Canada as an appealing place for digital development. In fact, Canada ranks 14th globally on Euromonitor International’s Digital Consumer Index, which helps companies identify the most digitally attractive markets; and it is expected to jump to sixth place by 2022. In light of this, it’s no surprise that virtually every major grocer in Canada is exploring online strategies and developing new ways to connect with consumers. Euromonitor International’s Lifestyles Survey profiles the early adopters of online grocery shopping in Canada. Here’s a look:

In many respects, early adopters of new technologies are also those who are gravitating toward online grocery shopping in Canada. Consumers between the ages of 18 and 29 in Canada are the least likely to say they never buy groceries online (56%, compared to 79% of 45- to 49-year-olds and 86% of people 60 and older). They also buy groceries online most frequently, with 10% and 9% of 18- to 29-year-olds saying they buy groceries online weekly and monthly, respectively. Urban consumers—those living in cities with 100,000 residents or more—are also more likely to report buying groceries online. Four percent of city residents and 8% of large city residents buy groceries online on a weekly basis. Education also plays a role: consumers with graduate degrees
are most likely to buy groceries online weekly (14%) followed by those with a university degree (6%) and secondary school graduates (3%), respectively.

Beyond demographics, personality-driven consumer types also yield insights into the perspectives of current online grocery shoppers in Canada. “Undaunted strivers” are the most likely to purchase groceries online, with 15% buying groceries online weekly and another 15% buying monthly. Undaunted strivers are tech-savvy, have high usage of online and mobile shopping platforms and are avid followers of the latest trends, so it follows that this consumer type is the most open to trying new ways of shopping for essentials. These shoppers are highly motivated by prestige and impulse purchases, so grocery players seeking to target these customers should focus on premium products and make it easy for customers to place and receive their order in a timely manner.

An emerging consumer type for online grocery purchases in Canada is the “conservative homebody,” a cohort driven by value for money. While likely to stick to their day-to-day purchases, this consumer is also open to browsing new products and shopping options. The key to reaching these consumers is to introduce a moderate level of new features, such as the ability to order online, without disrupting the core purchase experience. As a result of these preferences, this group is a strong target for click-and-collect initiatives. Another online grocery strategy for this consumer type is to nudge them toward private-label products. Conservative homebodies are generally open to private-label products to save money, so long as the products deliver the same features as national brands.

Most Canadian grocers are in the early stages of developing their omnichannel and e-commerce capabilities. The retailers that will find the most success with online grocery will work to both encourage early online grocery shoppers to shift more of their purchases to e-commerce and expand to new consumer groups in order to grow the market. The strategies and tactics that will appeal to early adopters will look different than those that draw new consumers to online grocery. As a result, best-in-class online grocery players will develop a variety of online shopping methods and features to offer a suite of services from which a shopper can choose the options that best suit his or her preferences.

This article appeared in Canadian Grocer’s December/January 2019 issue.

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