Multichannel shopping receives baby boom

Multichannel grocery shopping is surging across the globe, with the birth of a new child being one of the main drivers of an increased propensity to buy online, according to a new study by the customer science company dunnhumby, which has analysed the shopping habits of seven million people in 14 countries.

Huge growth is taking place across the full spectrum of multichannel market development, with emerging markets, such as China and Poland, and new markets, including Thailand and Brazil, experiencing 97% and 89% year-on-year growth respectively while, from a higher base, established markets, such as the UK and South Korea, have grown by more than 30%.

The report – which is based on the behaviour of seven million shoppers across 14 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas – underlines how a developed multichannel strategy is vital for brands targeting young families. Across established, emerging and nascent markets, baby food and care products appear in the top three sales categories, while baby milk is by far the leading product for new online shoppers, being almost twice as likely to be included in online baskets as the second most popular product among new shoppers, water.

Furthermore, even the most established online grocery categories are still enjoying significant growth. The three categories with the highest share of online sales – frozen meat, baby food and care, and canned food – have an average annual online growth rate of 21%.

The vast majority of online shoppers are multichannel consumers, with less than 1% of the population shopping online only.

Mixed online performance

The report also shows that not all brands are benefiting equally from the growth of multichannel, with many experiencing a decline in their online performance or their online sales growth is lower than in-store.

This variation is the result of online performance being determined by how well brands understand and respond to the path to purchase in their category. Success can be achieved through understanding how consumers use search and favourites, and optimising search terms accordingly.

Brands are also more likely to succeed if their target market closely matches the profile of the typical online shopper – generally younger, affluent consumers with young children.

Julian Highley, Global Director of Customer Knowledge at dunnhumby,says: "Across the globe, there's a marked increase in multichannel grocery shopping. Growth in multichannel is particularly strong among time and sleep starved parents, who benefit most from being able to shop any time, without leaving the home. Baby food and care products not only appear in the top three categories, but these are clearly important gateway products for new online shoppers.

"However, the belief that a rising tide lifts all boats clearly doesn't apply in multichannel – success is far from guaranteed. Instead, understanding the path to purchase online – as well as online shopping missions – is key to brands succeeding."

The dunnhumby Global Trends Unit identifies the consumer trends that will shape the future of the retail industry. It uses dunnhumby's behavioural and attitudinal data on over 700 million consumers worldwide to enable decision makers to formulate superior forward-looking strategies.

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