A KPMG survey finds one in four consumers expect to spend more than 40% of their grocery budgets online next year. In 2018, 17% spent that much buying food on the web.

While online shopping still represents a small part of the overall grocery market, a growing number of consumers plan to shift more of their food buying to the web in 2019, according to a new report from accounting and professional services company KPMG.

The KPMG survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers finds that almost half (48%) of U.S. consumers do some or all of their grocery shopping online and 59% plan to do so in 2019.

KPMG found the vast majority of respondent (75%) said they will spend less than 40% of their grocery budget online, down from 83% in 2018. However, the portion spending more than that is expected to rise significantly. A quarter (25%) of respondents said online spending will account for more than 40% of their grocery spending in 2019, up 8 percentage points from 17% in 2018.

Most of the projected growth in that higher-spending group (those spending 40% or more online) will come from increased purchasing by shoppers who are already buying a lot of groceries online, KPMG found. The portion of consumers spending 21% to 40% of their grocery budgets online is projected to decrease 5 percentage points, to 22% from 25%. Shoppers who spend 20% or less of their grocery budgets online will decrease 3 percentage points, to 53% down from 56%.

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This finding is consistent with those of a survey earlier this year by e-commerce grocery consultant Brick Meets Click and MyWebGrocer, an e-commerce platform provider for supermarkets. That survey found that growth in online grocery sales is being driven primarily by increased sales to existing customers, not from attracting new customers.

KPMG expects a so-called “barbell effect” to emerge in the grocery space. That means that a large percentage of consumers will shift a sizable portion of their grocery shopping online, while another big group will continue to shop for groceries primarily in stores.

The KPMG survey also found that product assortment (26%) and product quality (25%) are of primary importance to heavy online shoppers, outpacing price (18%) as a critical factor.

But online grocery shoppers are not a monolithic group. The KPMG survey identified four key shopper segments around which consumer packaged Goods (CPG)  retailers should build their digital strategies:

  • Online pioneers are primarily under 35 years old. 80% of this group spends more than $250 per month buying groceries, and 60% have a warehouse club membership. Online pioneers are more interested in promotions and the shopping experience than other groups.
  • Next-in-line adopters are consumers who spend less than 20% of their grocery budgets online but have plans to increase that percentage. Product assortment is the most important shopping criteria for this group.
  • Online dabblers do a limited amount of shopping online. They generally do not plan to buy more food online in the future.
  • The in-store crowd consists of those who do almost all of their grocery shopping in stores and plan to continue. 80% of these shoppers are over the age of 35 and 40% spend less than $250 per month on groceries. The top concerns for these shoppers are price and quality.

Meanwhile, an online poll by CreditCards.com looked at the frequency of online food buying, along with other online consumer buying trends. It found that more than a quarter of shoppers polled (26.1%) buy groceries online weekly and 35% do so monthly. More than one in five (21%) respondents said they purchase prepared food and drinks weekly, and 32% say they make such purchases monthly.

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The CreditCards.com survey of 1,002 U.S. adults aged 18 and over was conducted between Sept. 28-30 using the GfK Omnibus online polling platform.

Earlier, a joint study released by data analytics firm Nielsen Holdings PLC and e-commerce market research firm Rakuten Intelligence found that, for the year ended Aug. 25, e-commerce represented less than 5% of the U.S. CPG sales, but 40% of the sales growth in the sector.

Nielsen and Rakuten found that the market for these products in the U.S. (including online and offline sales) was $1.01 trillion for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 25, up 2.6% from the comparable period a year earlier. E-commerce CPG sales by contrast grew 29% for the period. CPG is an industry term for food, beverages and other consumer goods typically sold in grocery stores.

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