Macrocontingencies Shifting with Online Shopping

Image by Ed Zilch from Pixabay

Dr. Todd Ward

We are changing how we shop.

Data indicates that online grocery shopping topped $8 Billion in November 2020.  That includes over 60 million households, with a repeat shopping rate of over 80%, according to TalkBusiness.  Moreover, the Google Trends data below shows searches for online groceries increasing at a parabolic rate.

As behavior scientists, we can look at shopping trends with the help of the macrocontingency.  The macrocontingency  looks at “macrobehavior” – the cumulative behavior of many people across a geographical area – and how that behavior generates cumulative byproducts in society.  And that behavior is of course nested within an environmental context.

Some of the setting factors influencing the shift seem to be as follows:

  • stay at home mandates
  • restrictions on in person retail establishments
  • fears of contracting COVID-19

Regarding cumulative effects generated by this trend, Walmart CEO Doug McMillion noted that online grocery shopping trends are currently at levels no one expected for another three years due to the pandemic. “This presents opportunities as well as threats to established business models and practices” according to David Bishop of Brick Meets Click.

Some of these effects include:

  • shifting from customer acquisition to digital customer conversion and retention.
  • how to differentiate the digital customer experience from competitors.
  • a reduction in delivery fees and online minimums as volume increases.
  • more diversified players in the market including Walmart, a mass retailer, Kroger, a pure grocery chain, Costco, a warehouse club, and e-commerce leader Amazon.

For more details on this trend and what it means for your consumer choices, check out TalkBusiness. For more on macrocontingencies, check out our previous article “Macrocontingencies in Financial Markets.”

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA is a science writer, social philosopher, behavioral systems analyst, and the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which aims to connect behavioral science to the world in an engaging, non-academic way.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  His publications follow a theme of behavioral systems analysis, organizational performance, theory & philosophy, and language & cognition.  He has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward can be reached at [email protected]

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