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Five tips for media investment in q-commerce

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

Consumer behaviour is constantly evolving, which means so is the world of commerce media, and this can leave some of us unsure of how best to invest our precious media budgets.

One key change, borne out of the pandemic, is the growth of the quick commerce, or Q-Commerce market. But with a return to pre-pandemic shopping habits and tighter budgets thanks to the cost of living increases, many marketers have been left wondering: how should I invest in this platform, and which partners should I be investing in?

Whilst the market has seen a period of explosive growth - fuelled largely by the pandemic - it’s important to keep in mind that Q-Commerce is a rapidly changing and relatively infant market, which poses both benefits and challenges to media investment.

So, what does the landscape look like today? The positive news is, even in a post-pandemic world, the market has continued to grow year on year, with one in 10 UK households now using Q-Commerce. Therefore, if you are a brand with a listing, and an increased portion of your sales are coming from these platforms, supporting with media budgets can seem logical.

Its urban appeal is even more pronounced – with nearly a quarter of Londoners now using rapid grocery services once a week to get their groceries, in a shift away from the age-old ‘weekly shop’ trend. And herein lies another benefit: the ability to reach new audiences like the urban and affluent shopper, which could be a key target audience for your brand. Couple this with the ability to tap into specific shopper missions like the ‘distress’ nappies purchase or the ‘meal for tonight’ occasion, and Q-Commerce can be an effective platform to acquire new shoppers and drive conversion.

However, there are challenges to be mindful of. Firstly, estimations about the future size of the market have decreased, when considering the cost of living crisis and the anticipated shift away from impulsive Q-Commerce purchases and a return to planned shops. And, even today, Q-Commerce represents a modest proportion of total UK grocery sales which means any investment should be well considered and proportional.

However, for the right products, catering to the right missions, Q-Commerce does have a role to play within your media mix.

So, what are our top 5 recommendations for media investment in Q-Commerce platforms?

1. Be strategic about which partners to invest your budget in

With the market so fragmented and having seen the consolidation of several players, it’s important to be strategic about which partners you work with – consider those with a clear affinity to your brand, whose shopper base aligns with your target audience, and ideally, who can report on the performance of your media so that you can test and learn.

It’s also important not to spread media budgets too thinly across multiple partners, but instead focus on a select few.

2. Be savvy with campaign planning; Q-Commerce businesses are relatively new to this

The relatively new media estates of Q-Commerce platforms can pose challenges, and campaign planning is likely to vary in comparison to traditional retailers. To get the most out of these partnerships, consider taking more of a front foot creatively and planning collaboratively. Setting clear expectations from the outset around the level of campaign reporting you will receive will also help you understand performance and ultimately shape better investment decisions moving forwards.

3. Capitalise on upper funnel opportunities with your Q-Commerce partners

Q-Commerce should be viewed as part of a full-funnel connected commerce campaign. Planning holistically will allow you to better capitalise on the ‘distress’ need states of the Q-Commerce shopper, directing them to the app to make the purchase.

4. Don’t expect ROI to be good from the outset

It’s important to keep in mind that Q-Commerce investment will need to work very hard to deliver a positive ROI for your brand, however there are a number of other campaign objectives that it can help you to achieve more readily.

While Impressions may be more limited compared to other channels, the strong targeting capabilities of Q-Commerce apps can help you to reach exactly the right target audience.

In addition, the ability to tap into specific customer ‘missions’, coupled with the demand for immediate delivery, means customers may be more willing to try new products, which can prove effective in acquiring new customers for your brand. The friction-less experience of on-app ordering and ultra-fast delivery can also provide a positive brand experience for shoppers, which the in-store and ecommerce experience does not always grant.

5. Partner with other brands to tap into different missions and drive convenience

This is a key opportunity within Q-Commerce. Take the upcoming Qatar World Cup for example, with some matches being played in the middle of the day, shoppers might not want to leave their homes to visit the shop - especially not if they are working (watching) from home. In steps Q-Commerce, through which brands can partner to provide shoppers an easy and convenient solution to get a selection of their favourite drinks and snacks delivered just in time for kick-off.

So, what does the future look like for Q-commerce?

It remains to be seen how sustainable the Q-Commerce operating model is from a profitability perspective; rider labour and operational costs means high value orders are needed just to break even. As a result, we expect to see the continued consolidation of the ultra-fast Q-Commerce players.

In addition, a turbulent economic landscape and the cost of living crisis means there is uncertainty around how much demand will remain for Q-Commerce services, as people return to traditional weekly shopping lists and priorities shift from convenience to value.

Nonetheless, even considering the worst case impact of the cost of living crisis, the Q-Commerce market is expected to grow from today to 2030. Consumer demand for these services is also clear: Q-Commerce platforms are now partnering with retailers (Deliveroo and Uber Eats have partnered with the likes of Waitrose, Co-op and Asda), and traditional retailers are even investing in their own rapid delivery offerings to compete.

In summary, should Q-Commerce investment be the right fit for your brand, invest with caution keeping in mind our top five recommendations in order to help you get the most out of these partnerships. And although the future of the market is uncertain, be confident that there is a great opportunity to test and learn in this fast-evolving and exciting area of retail.

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