Smart technology shapes shopping patterns

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags High street Main street Mintel

The impact of technology on food shopping was highlighted in two separate studies
The impact of technology on food shopping was highlighted in two separate studies
Smart technology is helping to shape shoppers’ changing food buying patterns, according to two new reports.

Separate studies from Mintel and posh retailer Waitrose both identified smart devices as key drivers of change. Mintel’s senior trend consultant Richard Cope placed hi-tech innovation as the top of three drivers that will determine buying patterns next year.

“Mintel’s research highlights that consumers are already thinking about how their devices sync as part of their research and purchasing process,” ​said Cope. “Some 41% of UK smartphone and/or tablet owners claim they are more likely to buy a laptop or desktop computer that uses the same operating system as their tablet and/or smartphone.” ​The same number agree it is important that their smartphone and tablet use the same operating system.

Tech savvy consumers are investing more in smart home appliances. More than a third (34%) of UK fridge shoppers expect or would pay more for a bar code reader synced to online shopping.

Apple and Google

“Apple and Google are introducing ecosystems to compete for leadership in the wearables and connected home market and retailers are also pushing synced devices.”

Innovation will extend even as far as innovative food and drink containers, Cope predicted. Mintel expected to see more smart food and drink containers that automatically re-order replacements, while firms would increasingly analyse shoppers’ data in order to customise services and costs.

“Data analysis will become a key area of expansion for companies and humans will increasingly share data with professionals for analysis,”​ he said.

Waitrose ranked the influence of technology and social media as the top of seven key food and drink trends​ that impacted its shoppers this year. How consumers shopped, what they cooked and how they communicated about food was increasingly driven by technology and social media, said Waitrose, based on buying patterns in its stores and new research.

Meanwhile, Mintel’s other three key trends were: the transfer to the high street of on-demand, instant gratification culture of the digital world, growing awareness of customer rights and corporate misbehaviour and enhanced environmental credentials.

“We inhabit a digital era of instant gratification, where we can browse and buy at speed and where – online at least – the shops never close,”​ said Cope. “Consumers are clamouring for the same levels of convenience in the high street and the good news is that we’re about to see a flurry of fast and flexible solutions to bridge the gap between online and physical shopping.”

New Amazon products

Better connectivity was allowing shoppers to browse and buy while on the move. Click-and-collect services were about to become far more sophisticated and prevalent with the roll out of new Amazon products and Doddle’s parcel collection points.

High street trends in foodservice towards gourmet vending and app ordering options will continue to grow. Traditional formats like vending machines can be revived and reimagined to cater to modern forms of convenience, said Mintel.

Growing awareness of customer rights and corporate misbehaviour will result in shoppers demanding more fairness and justice from firms. This will become evident in shoppers’ growing interest in firms’ treatment of their workers and even their gender balance.

Environmental credentials was the fourth factor likely to determine shoppers’ buying patterns next year. “More than three-quarters (76%) of UK adults pay attention to the ethical and green credentials of products, including manufacturing and distribution processes, as well as the reputation of companies or brands,” ​said Cope.

“Consumers are already embracing apps that scrutinise a product’s environmental credentials, and we expect this concept to grow in the food and beverages market.”


Four key shopping trends for 2015

  1. Get smart: synchronised smart technology such as intelligent food and drink containers
  2. E@sy street: high street gourmet vending machines
  3. Fight for your rights: growing awareness of customer rights and corporate misbehaviour
  4. Toxic avengers: growing scrutiny of firms’ environmental credentials

Source: Mintel

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