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Online-Only Grocery Shoppers Most Loyal to Brands

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The coronavirus pandemic has no doubt accelerated online shopping trends. And it turns out that consumers who only shop online for groceries are more loyal than those who also make in-store purchases.

A recent survey from Chicory, a digital commerce platform based in New York, finds that consumers who only spend grocery dollars online are 3.5 times more loyal to brands than those who also shop at brick-and-mortar retailers. Further, 93% of online-only grocery shoppers have particular brands in mind when tackling their to-buy lists.

Nearly half of consumers buy groceries both online and in-store

While brand loyalty is strong among the online-only grocery shopping set, 47% of consumers have done a mix of both in the past 60 days. Further, 42% only shopped for groceries in stores, while 11% only did so online.

Looking specifically at meal planning, 41% utilize both online and offline options. In other words, they might use online tools — like apps or digital recipes — or offline methods — like checking their pantry, making a list or asking family members. Nearly 4 in 10 (37%) do their meal planning purely offline, while 22% use just digital-only methods.

What influences brand loyalty?

While 93% of online-only grocery shoppers have particular brands in mind when creating their shopping lists, 84% of respondents overall say they’re brand-conscious when grocery shopping. Interestingly, the large discrepancy between online-only and in-store-only shoppers regarding brand loyalty — 93% versus 72%, a gap of 21 percentage points.

Price tops the reasons for repeat purchases at 32%, followed by taste, nutritional health, brand value and social purpose and household preference.

Looking at the generations, older millennials (ages 30 to 44) are most passionate about brand value and social purpose. Gen Zers and young millennials (ages 18 to 29) are 2.2 times more likely to look at nutritional labels than Gen Xers and young baby boomers (ages 45 to 60) and 1.2 times more likely than older millennials to do the same.

Despite displaying various levels of brand loyalty, nearly all respondents (97%) say they’ve swapped brands pre-purchase. The top reason is price (52%), followed by a change in preference (whether packaging, health benefits or environmental callouts) and unavailability of the product.

When consumers turn to store-brand products

Consumers are most likely to choose store-brand products for snacks such as crackers, chips and cookies (62%), followed:

  • Household goods (cleaning products, detergents)
  • Frozen foods (frozen pizzas, ice cream)
  • Shelf-stable foods (canned foods, dried pasta)
  • Dairy (milk, yogurt)
  • Meat (chicken, pork)
  • Nonalcoholic beverages (soda, juice)
  • Eggs
  • Personal care products (toothpaste, deodorant)

83% of grocery shoppers are loyal to their store

Most shoppers (83%) always do their grocery shopping at the same store. And online-only shoppers are 14.7 times more loyal to the same grocery store than the in-store-only set.

While price may be top of mind for many with brand loyalty, it’s not the case with what keeps consumers coming back to the same stores.

Convenience is the biggest driver with in-store loyalty (34%), followed by:

  • Competitive pricing (25%)
  • Whether the preferred product is available (23%)

Price (39%) tops the list among online-only shoppers, while convenience does (37%) among the in-store-only crowd.

Gen Zers and young millennials display the most store loyalty (92%), followed by older millennials (89%) and Gen Xers and young baby boomers (75%).

Those trying to save on groceries should shop with a list before adding items to their cart, whether virtual or in-store, and look for store-brand products. Store-specific rewards cards and cashback apps like Ibotta can also help bring down the price.

Consumers who shop extensively can look at the best grocery credit cards to maximize their experience. Depending on the card, you could earn a far higher percentage from these than a cashback credit card.

Methodology: Chicory surveyed 726 U.S. consumers ages 18 to 60, fielded from Oct. 6-7, 2021.