Customer data provides supermarkets insight into purchase and eating behaviour


Supermarkets and the entire food industry stand a lot to gain thanks to the new digital opportunities which give them an insight into the customer's purchase and eating behaviour. This may lead to a more efficient food chain.

Eating and purchase behaviour more "connected"

Dutch eating behaviour is becoming ever more "connected". Consumers generate structured data thanks to their online purchase behaviour or a store visit, but they also provide unstructured data with their social media interactions. This is one of ABN AMRO's conclusions in its "Voedsel wordt bits and bytes. Digitale transformation van de foodsector" (Food becomes bits and bytes, the food industry's digital transformation) report.


Added value for stores

Thanks to more data and better analyses, companies in the food industry can better predict changing consumer behaviour and detect unexpected correlations.


“This will lead to a more personalized supermarket approach, with food catered to someone's lifestyle or health", ABN AMRO Sector Banker Food's Rob Morren said.


“Stores now include an increasing number of activities that provide added value. Manufacturers also have to remain vigilant if they want to remain relevant. Tapping into taste preferences or providing meal components are a few things manufacturers can do, as an increasing number of retailers prepare fresh meals right in front of the consumer."


Information about food's origin

Morren feels the digital transformation offers opportunities to provide the consumer with more information about food's origin. "Farmers can show what a piece of meat's ecological footprint is."


ABN AMRO believes companies in the food industry have to display a digital focus to quickly adapt to the changing consumer behaviour and to increase customer loyalty. This is not only required visibly, when the consumer buys and eats, but also behind the scenes. Quality, efficiency and innovation stand much to gain from a more digitized and flexible manufacturing process.


Share data in return for discounts

Even though the consumer expects a company to take his wishes into account, not everyone is willing to share his personal information. ABN AMRO asked TNS Nipo to investigate the matter and it seems that consumers are more willing to share information if they get discounts in return. This shows that financial motivation will entice a consumer to share his information with a supermarket. 48 % of Dutch consumers has no problem sharing personal information or his shopping behaviour with companies, if they get something in return.


ABN AMRO emphasizes the willingness to share personal information depends on the situation. If a manufacturer requires insight into purchase behaviour to improve the flavour or composition of its products, then many consumers will be much more reticent. 47 % indicates they would object a lot to this particular approach.


If data is used to create better packaging, with a lower ecological impact, then 41 % would not object at all.


“Data collection is not a novelty, but the sheer amount of available data, combined with the speed and processing power to analyse it, can help companies make major strides forwards. Those involved will have to give the customer a clear and complete overview why they want the customer's information and what they will do to process and protect that information", Morren states.


The full "Voedsel wordt bits and bites. Digitale transformatie van de foodsector" (Food becomes bits and bytes, the food industry's digital transformation) report can be downloaded here.


Questions or comments? Please feel free to contact the editors

Gerelateerde items


Chocolate maker Guylian managed to reach 80 million in turnover last year and it will invest nearly 7 million euro in a new factory location and production line.


Tesco, Great Britain's largest supermarket chain, had another advantageous quarter as underlying turnover in its British stores continued to grow.


French E. Leclerc and German Rewe group have joined in an European purchase alliance called Eurelec Trading. This new entity will negotiate with the international food industry and look for operational synergy.


Customers of German supermarket chain Edeka can now pick up their online orders from a cooled package machine, at any time, day or night. 


The Romanian Parliament voted in favour of new legislation, that requires at least 51 % of a supermarket's product range to come from Romania. It is however very unlikely that such a protectionist law would be allowed within the European Union.


French supermarket chain Carrefour is set to launch its own 1-hour delivery service in several Parisian supermarkets, a counter for Amazon Prime Now's launch in the French capital.


German supermarket chain Lidl has opened a web shop for non-food items in the Netherlands, the third country to receive such an online store, following Germany and Belgium.


Belgian breweries 3 Fonteinen (from Beersel) and Cantillon (from Anderlecht) aim to stop any lambic beer speculation, as these beers are often resold at extortionate prices.


Philadelphia is the first major city in the United States to introduce a soda tax: starting next year, it will require 0.5 dollar for every liter of soda, despite retailers and manufacturers trying to fight the decision every step of the way.


Candy manufacturer Mars might pull M&M’s from fast food chains' desserts, in an attempt to lower consumers' sugar intake. For instance, the candy will no longer be part of McDonald's menu.


Compared to the European average, Belgium is not a hugely expensive country: food prices are 8 % above the European average (with meat 19 % more expensive), while alcohol and tobacco are respectively 8 and 3 % cheaper.


Portuguese web shop sells food items that are approaching or have surpassed their best-used-before date, with discounts up to 70 %.


Bedrijfsleiders zijn zich bewust van het belang van data: volgens een McKinsey-onderzoek vinden directieteams data zelfs de belangrijkste dimensie om te slagen in de digitale transformatie. Vreemd genoeg volgen de investeringsplannen deze attitude (nog) niet. Slechts de helft van de topmanagers vindt hun huidige investeringen in big data voldoende om…
Back to top