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Elevating e-Commerce: Meat Consumers Want More From Their Online Shopping Experience

Connor Guyton

Meatingplace July
Reading Time: 2 minutes
The COVID-19 pandemic changed consumers in ways the meat industry could have never imagined. One of the biggest evolutions we saw was how they felt about online meat shopping. Before the pandemic, consumers didn’t like the idea of a third-party shopper choosing their meat for them. But once homebound, many consumers quickly converted from “I like to see my meat before buying it” to “I trust the shopper to pick my steaks for me.” Pre-pandemic, only 19% of meat consumers had purchased meat or poultry online.1 Today, though, nearly half of consumers have ordered meat online in the past month and they have growing expectations about their online shopping experience.2

Getting over the online premium hurdle

Most consumers purchasing meat online say they buy the same products online that they would purchase in-person. But about 30% of consumers who otherwise purchase their groceries online still want to pick out expensive, personal cuts like steaks themselves3. These consumers have indicated conditions that would make it more favorable for them to purchase higher-quality cuts online3:

  • 41% want to indicate desired specifications
  • 38% want a money back guarantee
  • 36% want pickers trained on meat selections
  • 33% want meat department associates to select items
  • 32% want a minimum shelf-life guarantee

All of these factors ultimately come down to the consumer ensuring they get the best “bang for their buck” when they don’t choose products themselves. But they also show a level of trust specifically for meat department employees. Retailers who can find a way to leverage this expertise for meeting online shoppers’ needs may well sell more premium meat online and generate more satisfied online customers.

What do today’s online meat shoppers value?

The meat consumers most comfortable navigating the online experience are, unsurprisingly, Millennials and Gen Zs. These cohorts are likely to be purchasing online regularly (at least once every two weeks). While online meat shoppers typically skew toward younger, higher-income shoppers in population-dense areas, the gaps for income, age and region have all narrowed since the pandemic began. Some other traits that online shoppers have in common3:

  • 49% of online meat shoppers also regularly buy value added meat (they are convenience minded)
  • 42% of online meat shoppers prefer manufacturer-branded meat
  • 40% of online meat shoppers place an emphasis on environmental responsibility, social responsibility and animal welfare

The branding and environmental preferences translate well to e-commerce; D2C and retailers should ensure brand stories are integral to their online platforms. Retailers with full-service meat counters can capture the value-add shopper by offering the same experience online, letting shoppers customize the size, shape or flavor of meat items to their specifications before it is picked up or delivered.

Elevate the e-commerce experience

It’s not surprising that as consumers continue to embrace online meat shopping, they are looking for more from the experience. E-commerce platforms have ample space to share additional information about brands, values, nutrition and so much more. Some of the “extras” consumers are starting to look for when they’re shopping online are3:

  • 42% want a product description
  • 42% want nutritional information
  • 36% want cooking suggestions
  • 29% want source (farm, location, etc.) details
  • 27% want “Also buy” product recommendations
  • 20% want an inspirational cooked product image

Retailers who use their online real estate strategically to feature this additional information have the opportunity to boost sales, elevate the e-commerce experience and cultivate greater customer loyalty. As more meat consumers continue to purchase fresh meat online, retailers and packers alike should consider how they can continue to meet (and exceed) shoppers’ expectations, by offering the products they want with the additional information they are craving.

1 Midan Marketing, Meat Consumer Segmentation 2.0, June 2019
2 Midan Marketing, Meat Consumer Tracking Survey, March 2022
3 Anne-Marie Roerink, Principal, 210 Analytics LLC, The Power of Meat 2022, Report sponsored by Sealed Air Food Care Division/Cryovac® and Published by FMI and the Foundation for Meat & Poultry Research & Education

About the Author

Connor Guyton blends art and science, combining creative flair with the technical knowledge of meat. As the Insights Analyst at Midan, she weaves the perspectives of both consumer and supplier into the thought leadership pieces she develops, and delivers the latest research findings to our clients. Connor’s life experiences seem almost tailor-made for providing consumer insight at Midan. She earned a bachelor’s in communications from Mississippi State University and worked as a lifestyle news reporter before earning a second bachelor’s degree in food science, nutrition and health promotion and interning with the American Meat Science Association. Now, her diverse background helps her connect the dots behind data trends to provide the meaningful “why” to clients.
Connor Guyton