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Sorensen: Milk’s Online Marketing Opportunity

milk online marketing opportunity

by Cindy Sorensen/founder and CEO, The Grocery Group

Cindy SorensenIt is no secret online grocery shopping is growing in popularity among shoppers. In a 2018 study conducted by Brick Meets Click, results indicated online grocery shopping was up 22 percent vs. the prior year. While still a small segment at 5.4 percent of all groceries purchased through this channel, it is growing rapidly.

The growth is driven not by more users coming to the channel or from increased frequency of current users, but from current users increasing their percentage of all grocery shopping from 28 percent to 46 percent in the online space. That represents a 61 percent growth rate.

There is huge upside potential for online shopping, as approximately 30 percent of all consumers in the study plan to order online in the next three months. Retailers are strategizing on how to bring the remaining 70 percent into the channel.

The results of this study of online shopping behavior, along with recent consumer research that indicates shoppers are looking to their retailers as a trusted source of nutrition and product information, provides a great opportunity to use retailers’ online shopping sites to provide shoppers with information at the point of purchase.

Retailers and manufacturers provide this information in-store at the point of purchase through ads, signage, point-of-sale materials and promotions. In the dairy department, messages used in-store have included sharing information on milk production practices, sustainability, animal care, on-farm practices and nutrition. Brands and private label milk processors have the opportunity to share those same messages online, perhaps in more engaging ways with compelling visuals and video.

A recent visit to several retailer online shopping sites found several branded companies using the “product description” page to provide information about their product’s nutrition, farming practices, animal care and farmer interest stories.

In the milk category, branded, value-added milk (i.e. organic, added calcium/premium) companies used the product description page to share information on how their product is responsibly produced, with care given to the environment and the animals used to produce their milk.

Branded conventional milk and private label milk processors provided little information. The product description area for branded conventional and private label milk SKUs of all sizes and fat content only communicated the following message to shoppers: “Keep Refrigerated.” This lack of information for branded conventional and private label milk leaves most shoppers wondering about the production practices and animal care provided by farmers.

Consumers are demanding transparency. The absence of this information can be a decrease in confidence in the production practices of private label and branded conventional milk.

Once again, branded milk processors have “out-marketed” the processors of branded and private label conventional milk. Missing out on low-hanging marketing “fruit” furthers commoditizes the milk category. Providing the dairy farm story of animal, environment and community care costs little or nothing to add in this digital space. Go the extra mile and provide shoppers with the information they seek and put branded and private label conventionally produced milk on a level playing field with value-added milk.

Cindy Sorensen is the founder and CEO of The Grocery Group, which focuses on developing leadership in the grocery industry by supporting industry professionals in their career development. The Group also develops programs to connect grocery industry professionals to colleges and universities to help attract, recruit and retain a talented workforce in a competitive employment market. Reach Sorensen at [email protected]TheGroceryGroup.com.

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