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Consumer preference differs when grocery shopping online

We love to shop online - but we have still not fully adopted the concept of online grocery shopping. A new study has identified three consumer segments that could be useful in developing the future of online grocery shopping.

Photo: Colourbox

Online shopping has increased over the past decades, but while consumers shop more and more online, the rise in online grocery shopping has been smaller than expected. Studies suggest that this is due to risk concerns among the consumers. Previous studies also point to consumer online grocery shopping behavior as being largely homogeneous, but a new study by MAPP Centre researchers, Darius-Aurel Frank and Anne Odile Peschel, challenges these notions.

Frank and Peschel’s results were based on a questionnaire answered by a representative sample of consumers in Denmark. The questionnaire looked into online grocery shopping by using measures of perceived social norm, complexity, compatibility, relative advantage and risk. They study distinguished between two “groups” of consumers: the adopters, who previously had shopped for groceries online, and the nonadopters, who had not. Statistically significant differences between the adopters and nonadopters were found for all the measures – except for perceived risk. It seems that consumers have become more familiar with and trusting of online grocery shopping over time, and this meant that, contrary to previous observations, the perceived risk did not predict the adoption of online grocery shopping. 

As the MAPP researchers set out to study the importance of consumer shopping characteristics, and to update the understanding of the factors that affect the consumers’ perception and adoption of online shopping, they were able to identify three consumer segments among the adopters: the price-oriented consumers, the time optimizers, and the cautious consumers. The three segments have different wants and needs and they place importance on different aspects of online grocery shopping.

The consumer segments identified in the study provide an insight into consumer preferences that can be very useful for the retailers; these findings imply potential for differentiation in the online grocery shopping market, and the segments can be targeted based on their different preferences in price, convenience, and service. 

Finally, the results also show that about a quarter of the Danish population already have tried purchasing groceries online. So even though the online grocery shopping market is not increasing as fast as predicted, there seems to be great potential for the grocery retailers on the “virtual market”. 


Darius-Aurel Frank

Anne Odile Peschel


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