3 Key Takeaways from the Online & Digital Grocery Summit – PRS IN VIVO – A BVA GROUP COMPANY

3 Key Takeaways from the Online & Digital Grocery Summit

We recently attended Online & Digital Grocery Summit in Chicago, Illinois, where PRS IN VIVO VP, Innovation Product Lead, Ruben Nazario, presented on “Applying Behavioral Science to Influence the Omni Channel Path-to-Purchase”. The summit hosted in-depth insights from experts in CPG, online retailers, and consultants to the industry, all of whom reinforced what we at PRS IN VIVO have come to know: grocery shopping is no longer exclusively in-store or online, but rather an Omni Channel experience. Here are three key takeaways we gathered:

Learning in the New Retail Landscape

                The rapid evolution of online grocery retail has been so dramatic that many CPG brands are still playing catch-up as they explore essential new ways to interact with consumers. Chuck Tullis, Senior VP National Accounts & Digital Commerce at UTZ Snacks, noted that the company’s first steps were to identify the new opportunities for visibility presented by the online shopping experience, and the challenges for differentiation and conversion within online retailers’ offerings.

                On a similar note, Kraft Heinz’s Customer Insights and Analytics Lead, Fedor Lisitsyn, stressed the importance of data-driven eCommerce for traditional CPG companies. If companies aren’t measuring the right data, they won’t be able to gain valuable insights that will help them form the correct KPIs to drive growth in all channels. When it comes to online grocery, sometimes this means marrying the data available through online retailers with other observational data in order to successfully utilize digital platforms. Based on this holistic view of consumer behavior, insights partners can help companies determine when and how to influence choice.

Relationships with Retailers and New Online Players

                There are new players and platforms in the digital grocery world specializing in delivery, such as Instacart and Shipt.  They provide the “click and collect” and “click and deliver “mechanisms” providing multiple avenues to drive sales, but further complicate the relationship between CPG brands and their ultimate consumers.  As emphasized in the discussion panel (consisting of Cory Murray of Albertsons Companies, Linda Crowder of Peapod Digital Labs, James Haslett of Bimbo Bakeries USA, and Elizabeth Shaheen of Molson Coors), whether it is the grocery retailer’s online channel or the third party delivery facilitators,  brands must think beyond these digital platforms as “billboards” for their products. They must dive deeper in order to develop effective ways to influence consumer purchase behavior, regardless of where the transaction takes place.

Understanding the holistic Omni Channel path-to-purchase presents unique new analytics challenges when it comes to refining product positioning, visibility metrics, how products appear in search results, and other factors pertaining to the different traditional and online grocery retailers. This three dimensional view of the shopper journey will require CPG brands and their insights partners to master the application of best-in-class technology as well as a validated behavioral framework, if they are going to succeed in driving growth in this new retail reality.

                Carpe Consumer, through Storytelling and Behavioral “Nudges”

                Recognizing that today’s grocery consumer is not just shopping solely in brick-and-mortar or online, but has come of age as an Omni Channel buyer, brands are redoubling their efforts to captivate consumer audiences before and even during the shopper journey . We heard from Sara Master, Director of eCommerce Marketing at Constellation Brands, that in order to communicate their brand promise, their marketers have leveraged storytelling to articulate what consumers value at every touch point. She urged attendees to develop insights around shopper behavior across channels to tap into those critical moments when telling a story around their brand and products can be both informational and deliver an emotional hook.

Global Digital Shopper Insights for Mars, Nicole Umana, also talked about the benefit of using behavioral and data science to leverage “nudges” that influence purchases in digital retail. Applying a behavioral framework can provide invaluable insights into how consumers encounter, search for, and interact with your product category overall as well as your product. Not easy for categories, like confection, that are so often impulse purchases! But by applying behavioral data the path to purchase analytics, brands can create the most effective interventions that can drive sales in digital retail.

Kudos to the conference organizers for a very inspiring and informative set of speaker sessions.  It is gratifying to see that so many brands share our convictions about decoding the Omni Channel path-to-purchase. There is great promise in new methods that blend best in class observational and analytics technology and a behavioral framework to provide holistic recommendations that will be crucial to drive sales in the evolving grocery landscape. By leveraging multiple data sources, and viewing the shopper journey through a behavioral lens, we believe brands can maximize relationships with online retailers and achieve Omni Channel success.

If any of these challenges sound familiar, we would love to help you develop an Omni Channel grocery growth strategy in 2020! Contact us at info@prs-invivo.com.

The Author

Erin McAllister is the Marketing Coordinator at PRS IN VIVO and is part of the Global Marketing Team. Being interested in both behavioral science and marketing, she has greatly enjoyed learning about the world of market research from her expert colleagues. When she is not at the Teaneck office, she can be found at the gym, cooking new recipes, or watching any thriller she can get her hands on.