Ramping up e-commerce efforts proved to be a priority during the coronavirus pandemic for many retailers. Because consumers could not readily shop when convenient and wanted to avoid big crowds, they turned to new ways of shopping. In 2020, we saw 20% or fewer shoppers buying groceries online, but as the world changed, those numbers skyrocketed to 70% of consumers utilizing e-commerce grocery shopping. And even today, more than 60% of consumers utilize online grocery shopping. Because of this shift to online grocery shopping, there are new opportunities for dairy farmers and delicious dairy products to be placed front and center for consumers.
The demand team at Midwest Dairy has identified the e-commerce space as an important one. We are immersed in making dairy products stand out online and are working on getting a variety of dairy products well-represented in this online space. Not only is e-commerce keeping its popular status even after the pandemic, but shoppers are adopting it as a regular shopping behavior. Dairy is the second largest category of grocery purchases online, making online grocery shopping something the dairy industry and retailers are equally excited about.  
Because consumers are creatures of habit, it is important we position the dairy case as a critical, top-of-mind purchase. We have seen that once dairy is in the shopper’s cart, it usually becomes a permanent part of their list, and often, they will purchase that same product again in the future. User data indicates that milk is the No. 1 search term for e-commerce. This is exciting because it allows us an opportunity to promote product information and even product reviews to a wide range of shoppers. This is also an opportunity for shoppers to see new products they may overlook in the physical experience as they scroll online.
Getting the product in the shopper’s cart is also an art Midwest Dairy is working hard to perfect. We are exploring and utilizing new tactics, such as banner ads to promote dairy products and recipes containing dairy. By showcasing dairy’s nutritional value and versatility in the kitchen, we hope to make the consumers’ experience easy when purchasing by providing direct links to products and easy-to-access “add to cart” buttons right from the recipe. We are encouraging consumers to get creative when using dairy products, thus ultimately increasing their dairy consumption. For example, perhaps making milk a staple product in their breakfast routine by not only using it in their cereal but also by adding it to their morning coffee.
But these efforts go further than shoppers. Retailers are also conscious of what dairy purchases are doing for them and are seeing how important a dairy purchase is to the overall dollars generated by that shopper. Grocery baskets are 75% greater in value when dairy is in the cart and contain 83% more units compared to purchases without dairy. Ultimately, we want shoppers to purchase dairy products and feel confident when using them so they return for more. We work closely with retailers and encourage them to work with their dairy vendor community to provide promotions and coupons for these dairy products. Recipes are also a good way to inspire shoppers to add dairy to their meals. Our retail partnerships allow Midwest Dairy to bring ideas for activations forward for their consideration as well. These ideas can revolve around the nutritional benefits of dairy, a sustainability message, promoting the local farmer and so much more. The dairy checkoff has brought value to those stakeholders by reminding and educating them how important it is for dairy to have a presence in the online space.
By staying educated on relevant shopper marketing tactics like this, Midwest Dairy can help more dairy products find their way into consumer’s carts – especially online. As we enter the holiday season, e-commerce efforts will be valuable as more shoppers turn to dairy products for menus for special meals and holiday favorites. Online grocery shopping is projected to continue to grow, and Midwest Dairy remains dedicated to making dairy products more visible in the digital space, which will encourage more milk consumption – a win for farmers, retailers and shoppers.