What role can reviews play in grocery shopping?

Date : 21 January 2019

One of the mega shopper trends we identified in our Shoppers of the Future research last year was experimentation. Shoppers in the future will increasingly experiment with their shopping and meal preparation to broaden their repertoires. 

“80% of shoppers claim they are open to trying new and different food and non-food products, services and experiences in the future”.

Extensive travel, sophisticated foodservice, access to more information online and changes to the ethnic mix all promote demand for new and different products. 

Making new product decisions in-store can be easier for shoppers – they can pick up products, read packaging information more easily, see the product more clearly and in some cases, open lids to smell products. However, this isn’t possible for online shoppers and therefore making these decisions online can be even more difficult. This is particularly important as online shoppers are even more open to making new product choices compared to in-store shoppers.

The industry has invested heavily in improving the ‘brilliant basics’ online over the past few years – for example improving imagery and product descriptors and simplifying product information. This can help shoppers to add your products to their basket. 

Another tool which has now become part of the next generation of brilliant basics is reviews. Increasingly, these are becoming a hygiene factor to shoppers when they are making new product choice decisions online. 


Source: Ocado

At IGD’s Digital Commerce event in October, I presented a new piece of research in partnership with Bazaarvoice. In it we discovered some interesting findings about the importance of reviews. 

Although reviews are not used as often in food and grocery shopping yet compared to other industries, as more shoppers turn to the online channel, they could play a crucial role in ensuring products are visible to shoppers. 

“40% of online grocery shoppers say they like reading reviews for other products and should read them for food and grocery products as well”. 

When shoppers do engage with reviews online, both the star ratings and the shopper comments play an important role. Star ratings are particularly important when shoppers are comparing products on a main category grid – see image below: 


Source: Ocado

These can help shoppers to make a quick decision about different products without having to click into specific product pages. However, if shoppers are looking for more information about certain products, shopper comments are then important.

There are multiple reasons why shoppers choose to engage with reviews – most use them to help them make decisions between products, but others are also using them to understand how to use a product or even to figure out who the product is suitable for. 

For manufactures, reviews can play an essential role in driving conversion online. However, they can also provide companies with invaluable direct insight on their products.

We run a quarterly tracker of online grocery shoppers where we monitor trends within the channel and how shoppers are using the channel: https://shoppervista.igd.com/channels/online. This can help you to understand some of the broad insights into shoppers in this channel.

And we also have the capability to do bespoke online grocery research into your category and how it performs online. We use a mixed methodology approach combining existing online shopper knowledge from ShopperVista, online focused surveys covering all devices, in-home depth surfs and passive tracking of online grocery shops.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how we can help you understand how to maximise your brand’s potential online contact me at [email protected] or another team member at [email protected]

Vanessa Henry

Vanessa Henry

Shopper Insight Manager

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