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As consumers seek useful and seamless experiences, many Food and Grocery Apps/Services “deliver” according to new research from Performics, Northwestern University Medill School

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Digital food shopping has accelerated, and will continue to be prevalent post-pandemic, according to a new study by the Intent Lab, a research collaboration between Performics and Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

The Intent Lab has been tracking consumers’ satisfaction with digital experiences since Q2 2016. The pandemic has forced consumers to be more reliant on the internet; in turn, consumers are expecting brands to deliver more useful experiences. However, the Intent Lab study shows that digital satisfaction around Utility continues to decline, reaching a new low.

Consumers are on the lookout to discover brands that provide particularly useful experiences in the pandemic. Furthermore, these brands may create new consumer connections and habits; 77% of respondents in our survey indicated they’ll keep using a newly-discovered brand after the pandemic.

In this study, titled Shifts in Digital Food Shopping Behavior during COVID-19, the Intent Lab dug into the usefulness of COVID-accelerated Food and Grocery Apps/Services, which have become essential in 2020.

The study found:

  • Pre-pandemic, a small amount of survey respondents were using alcoholic beverage delivery apps (10%), grocery apps (12%) and food preparation subscription services (11%). In the pandemic, alcoholic beverage delivery app usage surged 129%, grocery delivery app usage rose 110% and food preparation subscription services rose 110%.
  • Even restaurant/coffee shop apps and online food review sites, which enjoyed high pre-pandemic penetration (38% and 30% respectively), rose in usage by 38% and 44% respectively
  • 19% of survey respondents have switched to Food/Grocery Delivery/Pick-Up services during COVID-19. Consumers who are currently using these services tend to use them once per week. But still, 53% of survey respondents have never used these services.
  • The top newly-discovered Food and Grocery brands in the pandemic include Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash in Restaurant Delivery/Pick-Up; and Instacart in Grocery Delivery/Pick-Up. Starbucks leveraged its capabilities for low-contact pickup and seamless ordering to win new customers. And beyond food, Amazon and Walmart have also benefited from contactless delivery. Overall, DoorDash and Grubhub were the two most newly-discovered brands, with 9% and 8% of survey respondents discovering these platforms respectively since March 2020.
  • Search engines, word-of-mouth and social media ads are the top brand discovery channels in the pandemic. 20% of respondents discovered new brands through search ads, 19% through offline word-of-mouth, and 18% through social media ads.

“Despite the rise of food and beverage delivery platforms, the Intent Lab study also found that consumers are concerned about well-known barriers in this category, including freshness, not having free shipping and lack of return options,” says Esteban Ribero, Performics SVP of Planning and Insights. “Additionally, concerns about hygiene and unreliability of service are particularly important to consumers who are more concerned about COVID.”

Our study shows that brands that deliver on usefulness while maintaining trust in the pandemic stand to win new lifelong customers,” added Ashlee Humphreys, Associate Professor at Northwestern Medill.

For Food and Grocery brands to connect these findings to media strategies, Ribero notes, “It’s clear that consumers are using search engines and social media to discover brands that can aid with utility in the pandemic. Put low-contact, contactless delivery and seamless experiences at the center of your media and content strategies. And, even more importantly, your apps and experiences must deliver upon this utility. The Intent lab has consistently found that digital literacy is a key driver of digital satisfaction, so make it as simple as possible for all consumers to use your apps but allow sophistication for those skilled in getting the most out of digital tools.”

The study surveyed 1,002 U.S. consumers in October 2020. Download the full study at:

About Performics

As the original performance marketing agency, Performics is the premier revenue growth driver for many of the world’s most admired brands. Across an expansive global network operating in 57 countries, Performics leverages data, technology and talent to create and convert consumer demand wherever it is expressed—search, social, display, commerce and offline channels. Performics is built for the relentless pursuit of results. Headquartered in Chicago, Performics is a Publicis Media company and the performance marketing engine of Publicis Groupe. Demand Performance. To learn more, visit

About Medill

Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications provides an unparalleled education to the next generation of journalists and marketers on its five campuses. On the cusp of its Centennial in 2021, Medill is helping lead the media industry through unprecedented challenges. Its alumni work at top media outlets, nonprofits and corporations around the world. Visit for more information.


Dan Malachowski, VP Marketing

[email protected]

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