Competitive Analysis: A Look Into the Online Food Industry by @VogelLara
The Internet has brought many changes to our lives, from the way we communicate to how we work and entertain ourselves. Today, I will discuss how the Internet has revolutionized one of the most ancient and essential practice of us human beings: eating!
Nowadays, how many of us still have time to spend shopping at supermarket, and even more time at home to prepare a meal from scratch? Whether you want to buy groceries without leaving your home, or have a ready-to-eat meal delivered to your door, the online food industry has it all for you.
The Evolution of the Online Food Industry
The early start of the online grocery industry in the early 2000’s has been a rough one: Webvan, a pioneer in the online grocery delivery business, went public in 1999 before quickly going bankrupt in 2001. But online consumer behavior has changed a lot in the last few years, and shopping has progressively gone virtual; people are now buying everything online, so why not food? Marcus Wholsen, from Wired.com, believes online grocery shopping is back, and it’s becoming more and more mainstream.
What about online takeaways? Even an industry giant like Just-Eat, founded in Denmark in 2001, is not an “overnight success”. Just-Eat CEO David Buttress says he worked to grow the business “out of nothing”, and acknowledges it has only been in the past four years that the company has really started to become successful.
When it comes to groceries, customers may still be reluctant to giving up going to the supermarket to hand-pick fruit and vegetables, for example. Back in 2011, only 12% of Internet users say they’ve bought grocery items online. Maybe this number has grown since then? We used to get our milk and other dairy product delivered right to our door, and this practice was replaced by supermarkets…so maybe people will replace supermarkets with grocery and food delivery?
So Who Leads the Online Food Industry Today?
The online food industry is growing. But who are the top competitors today, and how are they competing? To determine who is leading the industry on search engines, I looked at the organic and paid share of search of the top competitors. And here’s what I found:
Nemlig.com has an 18% share of search, which makes it the top competitor of the online food category. Nemlig.com, which is an online supermarket, shares the top 5 with Osuma.dk, another online supermarket, but also with Hungry.dk, an online takeaway, and with Retnemt.dk and Aarstiderne.com, which both offer “meal boxes” with all the ingredients you need to prepare a specific meal. This means that the top 5 competitors are not offering the exact same service.
In the UK:
Just-Eat.co.uk is far ahead of the competition with an impressive 25% share of search! All the other competitors have a shared visibility of 5% or under: Cookfood.net, a frozen meal delivery service, Wiltshirefarmfoods.com, a ready meals delivery business, and tesco.com, a multinational supermarket. In Denmark, just like in the UK, the top five online food competitors don’t provide the same service.
The Difference Between Actual and Defined Competitors
Like I pointed out above, the top five competitors within the online food category, both in the UK and Denmark, are not in the exact same line of business. Some are online supermarkets, others are online takeaways, frozen or prepared meal delivery, etc. This is really interesting, because this shows how your competitors in search may not always be who you think.
Let’s look at the difference between defined and actual competitors:
- Defined competitors are the competitors which you are aware of because they deliver the same service/product as you; therefore, they are the competitors you would usually benchmark yourself up against. For example, Coca Cola and Pepsi certainly define themselves as competitors.
- Actual competitors in search are those you actually compete against on the same keywords; therefore, for the same visitors. You may not always be aware that you are actually competing against them, because they may not sell the same service/product as you do; however, in Google, you are competing for the same visibility and traffic! For example, Just-Eat and Nemlig are actual competitor in search even though one is an online takeaway service, while the other one is an online supermarket.
Nemlig vs. Just-Eat: Actual Competitors in Denmark
Let’s take the example of Nemlig and Just-Eat, which are actual competitors in search even though they don’t offer the same service:
- Joining discount prices and the convenience of online shopping, Nemlig is revolutionizing the way we buy groceries. It covers all the essential grocery goods for similar prices as most discount supermarkets in Denmark, and brings them right to your doorstep, saving you money, as well as time and energy.
- Just-Eat’s motto is simple: don’t cook, just eat! With activities on four continents, more than 38,000 global restaurant partners and 9 million active users, the famous online takeaway aggregator has come a long way since it was first launched in Denmark in 2001. Just-Eat’s business model is simple: it lists menus for its users and passes the orders onto the restaurants, who then deliver the food to customers’ doorsteps.
Even if they may not be aware of it, when it comes to search marketing in Denmark, Nemlig and Just-Eat are actual competitors. Take the keyword ”online food” for example: it drives 13.04% of visibility for Just-eat.dk, and 21.34% for nemlig.dk. This shows that the two companies are competing to receive visibility from this particular keyword. To make it more clear, I illustrated this issue with an infographic:
It may have been a slow start for the online food industry, but today, consumers are ready to make the switch and more and more competitors are entering the market. Here are some key takeaways for search marketers:
- If you are in the online food business, or any business, remember that your actual competitors in search may not be who you think they are; you could be competing with businesses you would not normally consider as competitors.
- In search, you should constantly monitor your competitive landscape, pay attention to your selection of keywords, and be aware that you share some top relevant keywords with some companies in a different line of business than you.
- You want to take into account both your defined competitors (those offering the same services as you) and your actual competitors in search (those that have visibility on the same keywords as you).
One last thought :
What about you, do you know who your actual competitors are in search?
Featured Image: Alexander Ryabinstev via Shutterstock