The Profile of Puerto Rico's Online Consumer

The Profile of Puerto Rico’s Online Consumer E-commerce is not the exclusive domain of the younger generation

Contrary to popular belief, the older consumer isn’t the one who makes more remarkable and more frequent use of digital retail platforms. A recent survey on the preferences of digital consumers in Puerto Rico found that 70% of those who use these platforms are between 35-64 years old, and only 18% of those between 18-34.

The pandemic of 2008 and 2009 pushed the global economy into the digital age faster than any technological advancement. Puerto Rico was not an exception. As with many other developments, many myths surrounding the conditions and interpretations abound about how Puerto Rico’s cyber environment evolved in the pandemic’s final stages.

“The train was already leaving the station at 50 miles per hour with only a handful of passengers. After the pandemic in 2020, that train had reached 200 miles. Many had caught it, but others thought the train would slow to 50 miles once the pandemic was over.” Esteban Colon Franco from Economy Supermarkets said. “The truth is that 70% of digital platform users have increased or kept their online purchases, and 81% expect to spend more.

Puerto Rico’s Marketing, Industry, and Food Distribution Chamber (MIDA) published the first Radiography of the online consumer to address the issue from the perspective of the retail food industry. It is a profile of the user/consumer of digital platforms for purchasing products and services.

Online behavior of consumers

MIDA’s radiography reveals the consumer’s online behavior, including the type of products and services they buy, how often they shop, and their spending habits. According to radiography, these consumers purchased their unprepared food online for 53%.

This study, which included 650 interviews, was conducted using computer-assisted computer interviewing (CACI). It revealed that while digital consumers are more likely to shop online for products and services, they still prefer brick-and-mortar stores.

When asked how much of their monthly alcohol purchases are made online or in stores, 56% responded that they do it in stores. This is compared to 44% who stated they did it online. This is a difference of 12 percentage points.

Similar behavior can be observed with household products. 52% of total sales are made in stores, and 48% go online, a difference of 4%.

Only in the unprepared section did digital consumers spend more online (53%) than in stores (47%).

Concerning the platforms they choose, 41% prefer mail delivery, while 18% prefer to have their merchandise delivered to them in person. The remainder of the 41% used both.

The Profile of Puerto Rico's Online Consumer

Both consumers (delivery/pickup and mail) mentioned “convenience” as their main reason for choosing the digital option. Consumers who prefer to use the mail-in platform cited a higher variety of merchandise (55%) and lower prices (50%). These platforms can deliver or pick up, and consumers who prefer delivery/pickup stated that they honor prices posted by their shoppers. They also agreed on the “low cost” of their respective delivery methods.

“The message consumers are sending through these answers is that they have found a way to save, and they are doing so abroad, elsewhere,” Yadmin Vargas from Selectors Supermarkets said. He gave a “heads up” to local retailers as they planned their next steps regarding product availability and pricing.

Navigating through the websites

MIDA measured consumers’ preferences for unprepared food platforms based on their visits to a particular provider at least once. Digital consumers on the island favored Superman Online (39%), Sam’s Club (38%), Economy Togo (33%), and Selectors Easy Shop (21%). These platforms were most popular in the four weeks preceding the study (May 18th to 31st, 2022), with Economy Togo and Sam’s Club topping the list with 23 and 18%, respectively.

Both digital consumers stated that they use the platform to find the best deals on products. Most consumers prefer to search for products by category and availability rather than using the search engine to find specific brands.

This finding may suggest brand loyalty. However, Consumer’s Radiography, which surveyed brick-and-mortar store customers, shows the opposite. The study found that 69% of those surveyed (1 350) said they would switch to a cheaper brand if the price of a product went up, while 13% said they would simply stop purchasing the product.

Similar results were seen for products that were out of stock. 51% of respondents switched to cheaper brands, while 32% said they didn’t want the product. Digital consumers, on the other hand, search for similar products on the same platform or look for them on another platform.

“When we examine all areas of this sample [of digital consumers] -demographics and income, region …-, the survey results are very similar to those from the Consumer’s Radiography. This confirms a low error margin and a high confidence level for this study,” stated Luis Defending, Tres Monito’s Dairy.

Jasmine Vargas from Selectors Supermarkets explained that neither radiographs were used to identify which brands consumers prefer. However, the results do not suggest brand loyalty but more brand awareness.

About two-thirds of digital consumers who use both delivery platforms and mail to buy unprepared food online spend at least $51 per month.

Inflation factor

Although inflation has been showing signs of slowing in recent weeks, the Federal Reserve Bank (FED) and most economists believe it will continue its upward trend, although at a slower pace, until the beginning of next year. The prospect is not a problem for online shoppers.

MIDA’s Radiography of the Internet Consumer shows that while most consumers will pay and checkout immediately after choosing their products, 24% of courier customers and 37% of male customers would fill their shopping carts over the month until they have enough money to pay and checkout.

However, 51% of these consumers said they would continue to shop online for products and services, regardless of inflation and rising costs. Twenty-eight percent said they would still buy online but reduce their purchases. Only 2% said they would continue to buy online and increase their purchase.

“79% of consumers will continue buying online, perhaps a little less-as it has with brick-and-mortar stores-yes. Colon stated that this does not mean they will stop using these platforms.

Recommendations

The Online Consumer’s Radiography report concludes with recommendations for retailers and distributors to improve their online businesses. These include the creation of efficient search engines, specialized sections, and the development of research motors that can be utilized to get specific information (i.e. organics, keno, vegan, etc. (), avoidance of out-of-stock messages, and a purchase history area.

By Mia

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