While physical grocery stores have long been king in Europe, it seems like Millennials are now leading the online grocery shopping revolution on the continent, as they increasingly opt for the stress-free and time saving convenience of online shopping.

Indeed, new research from Mintel finds that almost half (45%) of Germans aged 16 to 24 have shopped online for groceries from a retailer with physical stores in the six months prior to the survey*, compared to only 31% of Germans overall.

Albeit not on the same scale, this divide is mirrored in other key European markets. In Spain, 46% of consumers aged 16 to 24 have shopped online for groceries from a retailer with physical stores, compared to 40% of consumers overall. In Poland, 44% of 16 to 24 year olds, compared to 41% overall, in France 33%, compared to 29%.

 

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When asked about the reasons for doing their grocery shopping online, avoiding stress seems to play a major role for Millennials. According to the research, 36% of German, 31% of French, 29% of Spanish and 28% of Italian shoppers** aged 16 to 24 find online shopping less stressful than shopping in-store.

While avoiding stress is a priority, saving time is also one of the top reasons why Millennials choose to shop for groceries online. Around a third of German (34%), Italian (33%), French (29%), Polish (28%) and Spanish (27%) shoppers aged 16 to 24 agree it takes less time to do a shop online compared with in-store.

Moreover, one out of three German (30%), French (29%) and Polish (27%) shoppers aged 16 to 24 finds it easier to stick to a budget when shopping for groceries online.

Regina Haydon, Food & Drink Analyst at Mintel, says:

“Outside of the UK market, Europe’s online grocery market is still in its infancy, but it is growing fast as young consumers increasingly opt for the stress-free and time saving convenience of online shopping. More and more retailers and speciality players are pushing into the channel to stay connected with the younger generation, promising a bright future for the online market at a time when connectivity and on-demand are playing an ever more important role in youth culture.”

However, many Millennials in key European markets are still harbouring doubts about the quality and freshness of groceries bought online. In fact, when asked about the reasons for not using online services when shopping for groceries, 51% of Polish and 50% of German  shoppers*** aged 16 to 24 say they are concerned about the quality or freshness of products.

This view is supported by Millennials in other key European markets: 41% of Spanish, 39% of Italian and 30% of French shoppers aged 16 to 24 voice similar concerns.

Not being able to select the products in person is also barrier for online grocery shopping, as 62% of Spanish, 49% of Italian, 48% of Polish and 41% of German shoppers aged 16 to 24 don’t like the fact that they are not able to choose products in person.

Minimum amount and delivery time the biggest hurdles in Germany

Spending extra money seems to be a problem in particular for thrifty Germans, as 47% of German shoppers aged 16 to 24 say they don’t like having to spend a minimum amount, while only 33% of Spanish, 25% of Polish, 23% of Italian and 19% of French consumers of the same age group agree.

Germans also seem to be the most impatient with home delivery, as almost two out of five (37%) German shoppers aged 16 to 24 say they currently aren’t shopping for groceries online as they don’t like having to wait for delivery. In comparison, only 21% of Polish, 19% of French, 18% of Spanish and 16% of Italian 16 to 24 year olds see this as a problem.

“Online grocery has had a tough start in Germany, which is owed in part to the country’s particularly high density of food stores and the dominance of discounters Aldi and Lidl, who have little incentive to push high-cost deliveries considering their already thin margins. However, consumers are growing accustomed to the benefits of digital in other retail settings and are beginning to expect them in grocery as well.” Regina adds.

But overall habit remains the biggest reason why European Millennials don’t shop for groceries online. According to Mintel research, over half of Polish (55%), Italian (55%), German (53%), Spanish (51%) and French (50%) shoppers aged 16 to 24 say they don’t shop for groceries online as they prefer to shop the way they are used to.

This is one of the reasons why physical stores are still so popular among European Millennials, with 97% of German, 97% of Italian, 95% of Spanish, 94% of Polish and 87% of French shoppers aged 16 to 24 having shopped in-store at a supermarket for groceries in the six month period prior to the Mintel survey.

Similarly, 95% of German, 92% of Polish, 90% of Spanish, 79% of Italian and 71% of French 16 to 24 year olds have shopped in-store at discounters such as Aldi or Lidl.

“While Europeans are gradually embracing online grocery shopping, there are still a significant number of consumers across major European markets who prefer to shop the way they are used to. The freshness of the products and lack of ability to choose products themselves is an important factor behind consumers not choosing online grocery shopping. This needs to be addressed by retailers by putting extra efforts into delivering the freshest products and possibly cutting delivery time.” Regina concludes.

*Took place in May 2016

**Who have shopped for groceries online in the six months prior to the survey

***Who have not shopped for groceries online in the six months prior to the survey

Press copies of the research and interviews with Food and Drink Analyst Regina Haydon are available on request from the press office.

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