CINCINNATI: Multichannel grocery shopping is surging across the globe, with the birth of a new child being a primary driver of an increased propensity to buy online, according to a new study.

The Multichannel Grocery Shopping report, from customer data firm dunnhumby, was based on the behaviour of 7m shoppers in 14 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

This found that across established, emerging and nascent markets, baby food and baby care products appeared in the top three sales categories. Further, baby milk was by far the leading product for new online shoppers, indexing at almost twice the rate as the second most popular product among new shoppers, water.

Online performance was also affected by how a brand's audience matched the typical online shopper – generally younger, affluent consumers with young children – as well as brands' understanding and response to the path to purchase in their category, including how consumers use search, search terms and favourites.

"Across the globe, there's a marked increase in multichannel grocery shopping, particularly among time- and sleep-starved parents who benefit most from being able to shop any time, without leaving home," noted Julian Highley, Global Director of Customer Knowledge at dunnhumby.

"Baby food and baby care products not only appear in the top three categories, but these are clearly important gateway products for new online shoppers," he added.

Not surprisingly, emerging and nascent markets are seeing the most growth with 97% and 89% year-on-year growth respectively, but even established markets have grown by more than 30%, the report said.

Overall the top three categories – including frozen meat and canned food as well as baby food and baby care – had an average annual online growth rate of 21%.

dunnhumby also highlighted some significant cultural differences, as the US lagged behind other markets in online grocery.

For example, US shoppers are very cautious about buying new household products for the first time online: just 8% would consider doing so compared to 36% in China.

Data sourced from Business Wire; additional content by Warc staff