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Study: Online Consumers Willing to Pay More for Food

Convenience and quality, not price, are the major motivators for online grocery buyers, says a new study.

When it comes to shopping on the Web for groceries and gourmet items, grocery shoppers tend to buy online for convenience, while gourmet food buyers shop for perceived quality and variety, says a new study from ActivMedia Research entitled "Consumable Products: Building Online Loyalty."

The research report covers online consumer purchasing patterns in five consumable product categories: Health & Beauty, Healthcare & Pharmaceutical, Groceries & Household Supplies, Gourmet Foods & Beverages, and Pet Supplies.

Interestingly, buyers of groceries are already brand-loyal and less likely to be bargain-hunters than buyers in other well-known categories of online merchandise such as computers and software, the study found.

Grocery buyers online seek the convenience of Web site support for repeat ordering and no-hassle at-home delivery. However, gourmet foods buyers are less motivated by repetitive convenience -- instead they seek quality (93 percent) and will pay premium prices for premium products, the report says.

Gourmet buyers are nearly 20 percent more concerned with knowing that they are buying a premium product than the general online buying public.

Price sensitivity shows up as the other side of brand loyalty, and the products in the Consumables group demonstrate this clearly, the report says.

Product and vendor loyalty runs high throughout the categories, but items where online consumable shoppers in this study showed the highest levels of product loyalty were in categories such as pet supplies, in which consumers were least likely to switch to another product or brand to save money.

Buyers of groceries are the next most adamant in sticking with their known brand. When you want Campbell's chicken noodle, you want Campbell's chicken noodle, it would seem. Online grocery buyers purchase based upon need, and are little influenced by sales or price, the study found.

Buyers of gourmet foods are as likely as anyone else to switch to save a buck or two, whereas the Health & Beauty and Healthcare buyers are clearly online to save -- with half or more threatening to switch to another product or brand to save some cash.

Consumable buyers for the most part are deliberate shoppers, and not highly influenced by online product recommendations, highlights, or promotions, according to the report.

In fact, fewer than one in four indicate that their most recent consumable purchase was stimulated by online promotion. (Pet supply buyers rated online promotion a bit higher.)

Buyers of Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals are familiar with the products they are considering, have specific products in mind and go online to make a purchase. On the other hand, more than half of gourmet buyers were stimulated to make their most recent purchase by on-screen appearance and presentation.

The full study is being marketed $1,695. ActivMedia Research conducts custom and syndicated research aimed at guiding businesses to profitable online operations.