Australian online shoppers go for alcohol over groceries

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th May 2014
Australians who bought groceries or alcohol online

More Australians buy alcohol online than groceries, with still less than 1 in 50 people clicking products into a virtual supermarket trolley each month, according to Australian market research organisation Roy Morgan Research.

Roy Morgan Research found that in 2013, just 1.9 per cent of Australians (around 357,000) did some supermarket shopping online in an average four week period, up from 1.6 per cent (294,000) in 2012. However, 2.2 per cent of Australian (426,000) bought alcohol online, up 0.1 per cent since 2012.

“Intuitively you would think the supermarket industry—being more than five times the size of the alcohol industry—would have more online customers, but that is not the case,” said Warren Reid, Group Account Director Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research. “The grocery industry rakes in over $95 billion annually from around 12.5 million customers, compared with almost nine million alcohol buyers spending $17 billion a year,” he said.

“Both Coles and Woolworths have been trying to build their online operations for more than ten years,” Mr Reid said. “But despite internet usage and online shopping becoming mainstream, online supermarkets still attract only a tiny proportion of grocery shoppers,” he said.

Composition of each market by age bracket

Australians aged 35 to 49 years were most likely to buy alcohol online (3 per cent), and were also more likely than the average Australian to buy alcohol over the internet (2.9 per cent). Those aged 25 to 34 years were the most likely to buy groceries online (3.2 per cent) but just 1.8 per cent of them bought alcohol.

Roy Morgan Research said comparing the age demographics of the two markets revealed a marked dissimilarity. One in 2 online alcohol buyers were aged over 50, however this group comprised just 24 per cent of online supermarket shoppers. The reverse was true of 25 to 34 year-olds, who made up over double the proportion of grocery buyers (30 per cent) than they did alcohol buyers (14 per cent).

“One challenge for online supermarkets is that there are two very dissimilar customer types most inclined to buy groceries online and have them delivered to the door: stay-at-home mums with young children, or high-earning professionals and managers,” Mr Reid said.

“The key to online success for both Coles and Woolworths will be to extend the appeal of website ordering and home delivery to a wider customer base of people for whom regular online grocery shopping could be a valued convenience rather than a necessity,” Mr Reid said.