New Opportunities To Engage Older Consumers In Online Grocery Shopping

Director of Marketing at VOLTN, overseeing budgeting, planning, development, and implementation of all marketing strategies of the agency. 

I never thought before Covid-19 that my 75-year-old neighbor knew how to turn on a computer, let alone shop online. It surprised me that she does! After receiving a friend request, I soon learned she spends much of her time trolling on social media like many of us do, liking and sharing posts, and even tagging friends.

My delightful neighbor shops her favorite brands just like the young folks do, and for the past few months, she has relished in the fact that she can have her groceries delivered to her door. 

If you ask me, one of the most important lessons that 2020 has taught us so far is that all ages, including the baby boomer generation, are embracing technology. But for so long, it seemed we had counted out older consumers from the online marketing equation.

Data from 2019 shows that Americans 60 and older, many of them baby boomers, spend more than four hours a day in front of a device. As a result of the pandemic, nearly 45% of consumers from the baby boomer generation say they’re doing more of their shopping online, and 61% are using delivery services (e.g., Amazon Prime, Shipt) more than they used to.

Many consumers who are used to shopping at big-box grocery stores or even local supermarkets remain concerned about the health risk, despite social distancing and mask requirements. And those who do shop in the store often do not spend the same amount of time browsing as they previously did, which in many cases, may mean fewer products being purchased.

Shopping from home has allowed consumers to spend more time online and organically discover options they never knew existed, and based on what I’m seeing, this is especially true for those of the baby boomer generation. For online grocery retailers to take advantage of this emerging market, strategies need to be in place to lay the foundation for customer loyalty and retention.

Bring The In-Store Shopping Experience Home

Especially during this time, consumers may miss the ability to touch a product to check its firmness or taste in-store samples. They may long for the experience of engaging all of their senses while shopping for the best products.

So how do online grocery stores reengage the sensory experience of shopping in person from a device screen? It begins with creating content that is visually pleasing, much like fresh produce presented at the entrance of the store.

Since shoppers cannot get a feel for the product in their hands, the next best option is to offer a visual experience that displays a product from all angles. It seems like ages ago, but remember back before March how box grocery stores would have someone cooking the latest product with samples to try?

In our current situation, this is not an option. That is why video is key and the easiest way to accelerate engagement. Take the in-store experience a step further for those shopping online, for instance, and use video to show how the can of tomatoes will look after it is opened. Let customers get a preview of what is inside.

Once customers have an idea of what to expect, then it is time to educate. At this point, the customer might be thinking, “Oh, this looks delicious, but I don’t know what to do with it.”

At the digital marketing agency I co-founded, we have seen tremendous growth and increased customer acquisition across all digital channels for clients by leveraging the combination of recipe video content with products.

Typically, when shopping in person, after trying a sample, customers might throw away their toothpick or napkin along with the recipe card given to them, never to think about the recipe or product again. But with online grocery shopping, you have the advantage to engage and educate your customers with inspiring video recipes that can be saved and recalled again and again.

Take customers on a behind-the-scenes tour of where products are made or sourced. Post Consumer Brands has been using this concept as part of its marketing strategy for years in its cereal commercials. In 30 seconds, customers can meet the person who makes their breakfast and see how it’s made at the same time. The same concept can be applied to any product.

Talk with your suppliers to see if they can provide video content about where products are sourced, or of the factory where they are made. If it is a locally sourced product, that makes it even easier. All you need is a phone and a few hours to record and edit. Because of the pandemic, people are now accustomed to seeing videos from brands that aren’t necessarily shot with a huge production budget.

Consuming content like this can make the experience even more personal for your customers. It provides a human element to the story. Video is a way for brands to provide value to customers who are eager to discover and engage with new products. A person can tell someone how great a product is all day long, but if you want to capture attention and inspire action, you must create valuable content that is memorable and resonates with your audience.

Don’t limit video content to a website alone. Utilize your email list. Share with current customers the latest recipes featuring new products. Then use the same video as a lead magnet by putting some money behind it on social channels where your audience is searching.

Add video recipes to your emails and include links to demonstrated products. It provides easier user experience and keeps customers engaged in content longer — therefore increasing the likelihood of a conversion.

The way I see it, video marketing is here to stay. For online grocery stores and other retailers, it’s better to have low-quality videos than no videos at all, as this medium is fast becoming a necessity rather than a nicety for stores that want to stay afloat in the competitive online world.

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