The study found that while 91% of adults claim to purchase confectionery, just 12% of the 7 million online grocery shoppers in the UK visit confectionery related pages, and only half of those go on to buy confectionery online.
The research organization said the findings highlight a big opportunity for confectioners to grow their online retail presence.
Prepare for the future
Sandy Livingstone, director of client services for Kantar Media, told ConfectioneryNews: “It may not be causing much ruin right now, but perhaps it will in the future.”
“Offline confectionery is very emotional and visual and online it’s extremely dry and driven by logic and taxonomy.”
He said the online shopping basket had begun with mostly non-perishable food and drink items, but was quickly normalizing to a regular in-store basket, meaning online confectionery purchases should grow – at least in theory.
‘Understand the path to purchase’
“Of course online is growing, there are many forces that are affecting the frequency of online purchases.”
Tools such as mobile apps, delivery incentives and subscriptions as well as auto-replenishing baskets are all likely to increase sales of confectionery online.
Livingstone said that confectionery’s low online sales mean it is not likely to be a priority for retailers. However, confectionery manufacturers can exert influence over retailers if they can make a solid case to improve sales.
“Manufacturers need to get an understanding of the path to purchase,” he said.
Tesco ahead in online confectionery sales
Kantar’s research found great discrepancies in the sales of confectionery among various UK online retailers.
Tesco.com, where 59% visit the online confectionery section, sells more confectionery than other sites.
Asda.com attracts 42% to its confectionery section and Sainsburys.co.uk just 19%, while both online supermarkets have fewer confectionery purchases than Tesco.com.
Search bars and navigation
Finding confectionery online also differs significantly between retailers.
38% of confectionery shoppers on Tesco.com use the internal search tool, while only 4% use the function on Sainburys.co.uk.
Those that do use the Sainsburys.co.uk search normally look for branded confections. Tesco and Asda shoppers by comparison tend to enter generic phrases like ‘chocolate’, ‘sweets’, ‘mint’ or ‘gum’.
Livingstone said that Asda’s site was less orientated towards the search bar than other sites, which may explain its poorer online confectionery sales.