by Michael Uetz / managing principal, Midan Marketing, strategic meat marketing, research and creative communications agency
The biggest shift grocery retailing has experienced due to the pandemic is likely the increased adoption of online shopping, especially in the perimeter departments, where consumers were not yet comfortable allowing others to choose their products. According to the research conducted by Midan Marketing in March, only about a quarter of meat consumers had purchased meat or chicken online pre-pandemic.
In March, that number had increased to 57 percent. And 91 percent of those shopping online (or about 52 percent of meat consumers) are using online methods to shop at their local grocery store – either for pickup or delivery.1
Most online meat purchasers aren’t using it for last-minute grocery deliveries, but rather as their main shop. In March, 53 percent of online meat purchasers were buying “all” or “most” of their meat online. When asked what they anticipate doing post-pandemic, that number is still about 40 percent. In total, more than 20 percent of meat consumers plan to purchase “most” or “all” of their meat online even once all pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted.1
This boldly highlights the need for grocery retailers – big and small – to consider their omnichannel marketing strategies so these shoppers are getting served with their store’s messaging in all the right places.
Let’s start in the most comfortable part of the omnichannel matrix – in-store. Even though we’re talking about e-commerce, it’s still important to highlight promotions in-store. About 11 percent of meat shoppers plan to purchase “most” of their meat online post-pandemic, but that means even those customers will be shopping in-store from time to time. Plus, an additional 33 percent will be shopping mainly in-store with some purchases being online.1
So in-store efforts will be important, even for these online shoppers. According to the 2021 Power of Meat report, in-store promotional signage is the top platform shoppers check for meat promotions.2
Another piece of your omnichannel marketing strategy is circulars, which have likely been part of your marketing mix for some time. While circulars may seem old-school, they haven’t lost their importance to consumers. If you haven’t migrated your paper circular online, now is the time to do so. In-store shoppers may prefer flipping through the circular on their phone or tablet rather than paper.
In 2020, digital circulars saw tremendous growth with 44 percent of shoppers using them while planning their shopping trips. The same percentage of shoppers used a paper circular for meat promotions pre-grocery trip in 2020. Finally, 33 percent use the paper circulars while they are in the store to search for promotions.2
Phone apps aren’t just for major retailers. In 2020, consumers worldwide spent 82 billion hours on retail shopping apps – a 30 percent increase from 2019.3 Apps are often more intuitive to use on mobile than retailer websites,n and if your store is a reoccurring part of their routine, your app will be, too. Pre-pandemic, research showed the top features for convincing shoppers to download retailer apps were coupons or deals and loyalty or rewards programs.4 Another useful feature for grocery apps is being able to login simultaneously on multiple devices. This can allow an entire household to use the same account and add items to their cart as needed and have them synced together before their weekly grocery pickup or delivery.
All businesses today are expected to have an online presence, particularly in the form of a website. This is even more true for retailers, where consumers expect to go to the website and shop online. But customers turn to these websites for more than just shopping. One popular way some retailers are using their website is to include a variety of shoppable recipes. Of course, your digital circular should be viewable on your website as well and there should be a way to sign up for marketing emails.
When the proliferation of email marketing was new, a lot of promotional emails were considered spam and not read. Today, however, nearly a quarter of meat consumers use these emails as a place to look for meat case promotions.2 A couple tips for email marketing are to stay current, include promotions and use a snappy subject line to get shoppers to open the email. Email is also a great way to share content marketing pieces, like blogs, quizzes and videos, with your customers.
Facebook, Instagram, TikTok – new social channels are always appearing and offering new places for you to reach your shoppers. In 2020, 15 percent of meat shoppers looked for deals on social media while planning their grocery trip for the week, with nearly a quarter of older millennials using this promotional vehicle.2 Whether you’re using organic or paid posts, it’s important to know your audience and what kind of content they’re likely to engage with.
Linking back to the shoppable recipes on your website (and sharing a promotion running on one of the main ingredients) is a great way to give shoppers content they may be searching for (recipes and promotions) while also keeping your store top of mind.
Content Marketing and SEO
These pieces of the omnichannel matrix may seem like marketing buzzwords, but they’re extremely important when targeting your e-commerce shopper. Content marketing is using educational or entertaining content to market to your shoppers. This might be your in-store dietitian writing a blog post on the nutritional value of pork or sending a promotional email highlighting your Top 5 Tips for Creating a Charcuterie Board (with shoppable links). SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is important within that content. SEO is the process of making your website and content appear at the top of Google when your shoppers are searching. Understanding what your consumers search for and using those words or phrases in your content helps you appear higher on the Google search results and can help convert searchers to shoppers.
Public relations encompasses all the things that help you maintain a positive public image, so a lot of what has already been discussed falls into PR. Community involvement is one piece of public relations where independent grocers can really shine. Does your store already sponsor a yearly 5K or kid’s softball team? That’s PR and something your shoppers want to know about. Share stories and photos or video in your content, on social media and in your newsletters. If you want a new PR push, though, consider partnering with a local rancher to host an on-the-farm educational event for your community where you can interact directly with your shoppers while also helping them learn more about where their food comes from. This can help inspire and educate your customers.
As you can see – the elements of omnichannel marketing can be difficult to separate. The content you wrote likely falls under public relations and you used SEO to help it perform well. It was housed on your website and contained shoppable links that took customers to your mobile app or a different part of your site. You then shared it through your email marketing and social media channels to engage more shoppers. There are also other elements to consider that didn’t fit neatly into these categories – digital coupons and third-party delivery apps like Instacart, for instance. At the end of the day, you’re probably already doing a lot of the things that are included in a good omnichannel marketing strategy. What’s important now is optimizing these pieces to fit well together and provide as many relevant touchpoints as possible with your shoppers – especially those who are shopping online.
1 Midan Marketing, Meat Consumer E-Commerce Report, March 2021.
2 Anne-Marie Roerink, Principal, 210 Analytics LLC, The Power of Meat 2021: An In-Depth Look at Meat Through the Shopper’s Eyes, Report sponsored by Sealed Air Food Care Division/Cryovac® and Published by Food Marketing Institute Foundation for Meat & Poultry Research & Education.
3 Clear Bridge Mobile, 50 Stats for Mobile App Growth and Success in 2021, December 2021.
4 eMarketer, Why Your Retail App Isn’t on Customers’ Phones, and What to Do about It Before the Holidays, September 2019.