In 2021, many consumers in the UK demand chocolate, confectionery and desserts to be available online, as at-home habits continue. According to GlobalData’s latest consumer survey (2021 Q1), approximately one-third of UK consumers belonging to Generation X (Gen Xers), which is 30%, and baby boomers which is 32%, claim to buy chocolate, confectionery and dessert products from online retail sites.
Interestingly, younger generations generally considered more digitally adept show a lower adoption of online purchases for this category, with Gen Z standing at only 12%. Naturally, there are a number of reasons for this, including Gen Xers and boomers buying such products as part of their household grocery shops and younger generations being typically more health-conscious. However, the adoption of online retailers for confectionery is notable across the board at 27% of the overall UK population and offers manufacturers within the category an opportunity to appeal to consumer demand by entering into e-commerce partnerships with retailers.
In the run-up to Easter, brick-and-mortar retailers such as Thorntons and Hotel Chocolat are rethinking their strategy and increasing their online presence through direct-to-consumer and retail partnerships. Although this move from the chocolate brand is surprising, its decision to completely change its stance to target consumers in the UK aligns with the change in consumer purchasing behaviour.
It can be argued that this consumer behaviour is only a phase for UK consumers during lockdown conditions. However, the evidence shows that this habit of purchasing chocolate, confectionery and dessert products online will not subside following the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the aforementioned survey, UK consumers are more likely than the global average to purchase these items on retail sites, which stands at only 17%. Additionally, a similar proportion of UK consumers claim to purchase these items online compared to countries that are well out of lockdown conditions such as China, which is at 29%. This suggests that the average UK consumer is going to continue purchasing these items, particularly from retail stores online, following the Covid-19 pandemic.
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For chocolate, confectionery and dessert brands to survive in the UK, e-commerce and retail partnerships will have to play a large role in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The digital world is set to become a vital element for the future performance of indulgent brands.