As the internet continues on its trajectory of dominating our everyday lives, the growth of eCommerce is inevitable. And that, argues MyWebGrocer (MWG), is a good thing for sweets and snacks.
According to MWG's study, "The Grocery eCommerce Index for Sweets & Snacks," candy and snacks are included in 77 percent of online grocery orders. Combined, they make the fifth most popular category purchased online after dairy, produce, beverages, and frozen food.
The category's growth in 2015 mirrors that of eCommerce sales in general. Both grew at a healthy rate of 15 percent. But it's important to note that the growth of online purchases in candy and snacks outpaces that of overall industry purchases. It points to a shift toward online purchases, which is a good sign for consumer packaged goods (CPGs) looking to influence consumers directly at the point of sale. Online consumers, after all, have proven to be open to marketing messages while shopping.
Chocolate still dominates sales online, making up 69 percent of candy sales and growing at a rate of 15 percent from 2014-2015. Sales have seen a surge in dark chocolate (+32 percent) and chocolate-covered fruit (+322 percent), reminding manufacturers that online shoppers are open to trying new products and new experiences.
Meanwhile, non-chocolate sales grew by 28 percent, driven by caramel (+62 percent growth), marshmallows (+29 percent), and gums and mints (+14 percent).
But while online candy sales are soaring, a majority of eCommerce shoppers (85 percent) have yet to make candy purchases.
That means there's room for even more growth, and MWG argues that the migration of consumers to online channels will continue to spur greater growth of eCommerce candy sales. As shoppers continue to make larger purchases, candy will find its way into more carts.
Confectioners can, however, accelerate online demand by using native marketing opportunities to meaningfully engage their growing audience of consumers. Candymakers can drive more planned purchases by employing compelling campaigns and cross-marketing activities, while mobile marketing tactics that target online shoppers in the store can help drive impulse purchases.
In the snacks segment, popular favorites still drive sales, but lesser-known snacks are rapidly gaining traction. Crackers and snacks led the charge, making up 50 percent of all online snack sales, while snacks that saw higher year-over-year eCommerce sales included vegetable snacks (+24 percent), snack cakes and pies (+24 percent), and meat snacks (23 percent). Turkey jerky, for example, almost doubled sales at 181 percent growth.
These trends suggest that eCommerce shoppers are often looking for healthy snack alternatives. Brands can take advantage of online consumers' eagerness to try new products. Because online shoppers often mirror brick-and-mortar ones, grocers have the opportunity to research the viability of new products before committing valuable in-store space.
Shoppers online also actively seek decision-influencing information. They complete an average of 2.5 shopping sessions before checking out and typically place two orders each month. The vast majority (98 percent) use search functions as well as a variety of tools to gather information before putting items in their carts—45 percent view circulars, 73 percent read product detail pages, and 69 percent browse grocery categories.
These behaviors invite CPGs to engage shoppers to relevant and timely information. For candy and snacks in particular, this is a chance to discuss how their products fit into healthy snacking routines or share stories on how they can be used to create fun and tasty snack creations.
At the end of the day, historical data show that online candy and snack sales will continue to grow. But with the majority of online shoppers yet to make candy purchases online, there's plenty of room for improvement, which translates into opportunity.
MWG's recommendations? Listen to the data, join the conversation, and innovate for growth.