Maru/Matchbox Study Reveals: It’s Critical for Retailers to Understand New Digital Shopper Trends


More than 130 million Americans now shop online regularly for consumer packaged goods (CPG) ranging from household and personal care products to alcohol and salty snacks, posing a significant challenge to traditional manufacturers and retailers, according to a new study released today by Maru/Matchbox, a technology-accelerated consumer insights firm.

“The traditional paradigm of controlling physical shelf space to build market share is increasingly irrelevant,” said Matt Kleinschmit, Managing Director, Consumer & Shopper Insights at Maru/Matchbox. “While it’s not yet exactly clear how this emerging digital shopping behavior will impact traditional buying decisions long term, the potential for major CPG manufacturers and brick & mortar retailers to face music industry-like disruption is increasingly real.”

The study, Emerging Digital Shopper: Trends & Triggers Across Five CPG Categories, analyzes this dynamic in five key, fast-moving consumer packaged goods categories: Personal Care, Household Goods, Salty Snacks & Confections, Non-alcoholic Beverages, and Alcohol. It found that digital shoppers are typically younger, better educated, more affluent and less tied to traditional brands, and are 50% more likely to agree with the statement, “I like to buy from new, innovative brands even if they’re not well known.”

In every category, the study found that digital shoppers are generally willing to pay more for products perceived as “premium” and are roughly twice as likely as non-digital shoppers to strongly agree with the statement, “I like products that are pure and natural (i.e. made with little to no processed ingredients).” Further, digital shoppers are more likely to be “health conscious and environmentally aware,” and have a university degree and earn over $100,000 per year. Free trials, purchase reminders and personalized product recommendations were found to be highly influential in digital CPG shopping.

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The study sees digital shopping continuing to expand in emerging categories like online grocery and beverages, with a growing lack of brand loyalty and increasing demand for personalized products creating new opportunities for niche players. Other findings include:

  • 100 million Americans bought personal care products online in the past month, with 50% of these buyers purchasing 2 or 3 products.
  • 50 million U.S. adults bought salty snacks or confections online in the last month. Buyers are 60% more likely to be single.
  • Online alcohol sales are in the early innings, with just 15 million adults in the U.S. buying beer, wine or spirits online. They are generally 21-34 years old and are “early adopters,” pointing to growth opportunities.
  • Household goods digital shoppers are 40% more likely to be Hispanic and are 30% more likely to be male than those who don’t buy household goods online.
  • Half of digital shoppers purchase in almost all of these categories.


“For both new and established retailers and manufacturers, future growth will depend on the ability to offer fully integrated experiences across both the physical and digital worlds, and to build direct relationships with consumers that serve their specific, personalized expectations,” said Kleinschmit. “This requires a re-imagination of how insights about these consumers are gathered, so that learning can be fast and actionable on an ongoing basis. Many of our clients in this industry are developing scalable digital shopper insight platforms that seamlessly combine qualitative, quantitative, mobile and behavioral data. This gets them into the hearts and minds of their target customers and enables them to create more customized products and marketing activations. This is often the foundation of re-imagining the entire customer experience.”

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