What's In Store

Why millennial men are more likely to buy their groceries online

Shoppers at the Publix store in Ballantyne pass by a new price comparison display in front of the store, on May 14, 2014.
Shoppers at the Publix store in Ballantyne pass by a new price comparison display in front of the store, on May 14, 2014. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Buying groceries online is becoming increasingly popular – the launch of services in Charlotte like Shipt, Postmates and Instacart is a testament to that trend. Experts say it’s probably safe to assume grocery e-commerce won’t overtake in-store shopping, but it begs the question: Who is buying their milk, bread and produce online these days?

Turns out, it’s more likely to be young men, who find grocery shopping to be “a necessary evil.”

According to NPD Group, a market research firm, more than 40 percent of primary grocery shoppers are men, and 60 percent of them – those in the millennial and Gen Z group between the ages of 18-44 – have bought their groceries online.

That’s in part because young adults nationwide – who are also more likely do use the Internet for other types of shopping – are delaying marriage and the formation of families, NPD Group said.

The group also said men tend to make grocery shopping “a mission,” and they spend less time in brick-and-mortar grocery stores compared with women. They also buy fewer products in stores and will leave if they can’t find something, the group said.

“Although online grocery shopping lags other e-commerce industries in terms of development, it is growing and the groups that are the most active online grocery shoppers are large,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst.

Grocers in the area, like Wal-Mart, have started offering free store pickup for grocery orders made online. Experts say online grocery shopping is also popular for mothers with small children, and working professionals with little free time. It also tends to be more popular, NPD group says, in rural and urban areas.

NPD Group also notes that about 31 million households have Amazon Prime, and approximately 52 percent of them buy their groceries online.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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