FMCG online penetration: South Korea leads

As more and more consumers shift to online shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic in the first half of 2020, certain eCommerce players rejoice. Those selling everyday essentials like groceries or personal care products have seen a particularly strong increase in online orders over the past weeks as quarantines and contact bans made people stay home – and shop from home.

Although on a worldwide average, FMCG online sales had already grown seven times as fast as overall FMCG sales between 2018 and 20191, according to data analyst Kantar, there is still great potential for online players in the groceries and essentials field, as most people still turn to brick-and-mortar for their everyday shopping in many countries.

Online FMCG sales shares of total FMCG sales by country
Overall, Asian countries are at the forefront when it comes to eCommerce penetration in the FMCG segment. With more than 20% of overall FMCG value sales generated online, South Korea has the highest online share, followed at quite a distance by China with a penetration of just above 15%, and Taiwan with 8.7%. According to Kantar, China leads in terms of overall eCommerce penetration, with 73% of the population having bought fast-moving consumer goods online in 2019.

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In Europe, the UK is the country where most groceries and other FMCG are bought online in terms of value sales, namely 7.6%. Latin American countries are at the bottom of the list with a value sales online penetration of less than 1%.

Kantar analysts expect global FMCG online sales to double by 2025 to a worldwide average of 10% of overall sales. China is likely to overtake South Korea by then and hit a penetration of more than 30% of the total sales value.

It will sure be exciting to see whether the current corona crisis will have a long-term effect on people’s shopping behavior. Although eCommerce rates in the FMCG field are up for the moment, it is possible that the bulk of the “corona shoppers” will return to brick-and-mortar after the crisis. When this is going to happen, however, is still written in the stars, with neither treatment nor vaccine in sight.

1: 12 months ending June 30, 2019

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May 2020


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