Grocery stores are undeniably convenient, but does anyone enjoy visiting them? Along with doing the laundry, cutting the grass, or cleaning the bathroom, shopping for groceries can be a dreaded weekly chore.
To lessen the problem, perhaps we could return to our old ways. Before the advent of large refrigerators, families had goods like milk, eggs, and produce delivered to their front doors—the kind of thing newer grocery delivery services aim to do. For an added fee (and sometimes a markup on goods), you can skip the traffic, the shopping, and the checkout lines by having companies like Instacart pick up your groceries for you and deliver them to your home.
Sound good? The data at CivicScience presents more of a mixed bag. To start, only 11% of U.S. adults have used grocery delivery services, though 73% of those who’ve tried it have liked it. An overwhelming majority (95%) already know about them, too, and nearly seven out of ten say they’re not interested.
These services mainly appeal to people between 35 and 54 years of age, people who might have multiple demands on their attention: work, kids, a mortgage. Forty percent of adults who use and like these services fall into this group. They also plan to use them more in the future, which could translate into more of this population relying on grocery deliveries over time.
Less promising are the numbers for young adults. Nearly ⅓ of adults with a negative view of grocery delivery services fall between the ages of 25 and 34. Millennials, as plenty have pointed out, make up a cagey group. It could be that many don’t find the extra charges and markups worth the time saved.
And this lack of interest only seems to be increasing. Since Q3 of 2018, disinterest has risen from 66% to 70%. Usage saw a bump around the holidays in Q4 but has returned to previous levels, while planning to use has gone up only one percentage point.
Lack of options may be holding people back. Of adults who intend to use grocery delivery services, very few shop at smaller, independent stores—the kind that companies like Instacart and Amazon’s Prime Now have yet to establish business with. These adults also account for 51% of respondents who haven’t heard of these services.
If the numbers look rough for the industry as a whole, it’s worth considering two of the major players. These numbers offer a bit more optimism.
Instacart has been around since 2012 and now covers all 50 states and select cities in Canada. It offers two-hour delivery from major grocery stores for an added fee, plus possible product markup. Its main rival, Prime Now, only works for Amazon Prime members and only delivers from Whole Foods, but doesn’t charge members extra for two-hour delivery and doesn’t mark up prices.
Of the two, Instacart is far less recognized. Chalk that up to being a competitor of a titan like Amazon. Still, considering its reach, it’s surprising only 30% of adults have heard of it. Amazon Prime Now awareness is much higher, with 80% awareness among U.S. adults.
Although Millennials, in general, don’t seem as keen on the idea of grocery delivery services, they appear more likely to favor Prime Now than Instacart. That being said, adults between the ages of 35 and 54 still show more interest in trying both Prime Now and Instacart in the future.
Overall though, these services aren’t primed to become the norm. Both Instacart and Prime Now have shown they have room to grow, but unless overall interest levels begin to rise, look for still more bumpy roads ahead for this industry.