First Party Delivery Models Meet Evolving Consumer Needs

Aggregated feedback from consumers online indicates that a more modern food delivery model will be required to reach evolving customer needs and expectations. And first-party instant commerce company Gopuff is leading the charge by meeting this new industry standard with its local micro-fulfillment centers and a commitment to creating an exceptional end-to-end experience.

The Importance of Continuous Consumer & Market Intelligence

We’ll explore these indicators more in-depth later on, but the infographic below is telling. Food delivery brands capturing the largest share of voice aren’t necessarily cornering the market.

infographic showing passion and sentiment

As we can see above, social conversations about Gopuff & Shipt are +19 points higher than the average competitor’s Net Sentiment – and Gopuff’s Passion Intensity Score is +28 points higher than the group average. This means that there are more strong positive emotions associated with Gopuff than strong negative emotions. Examples of strong positive emotions are: adore, awesome, favorite, great, impressive, ideal. Strong negative examples include hate, terrible, useless, unacceptable. 

How did they manage this? They understood, and exceeded, consumer expectations. We’ll get to that part soon, but first – some context.

After the food delivery boom in early 2020, consumers had one set of expectations. However, nothing stays static for long. Brands that are paying attention and adapting to lessen consumer frictions in the food delivery market stand to grow market share and change the nature of the industry. This is crucial, as change is always afoot.

For a bit of clarity, here are a few statistics that speak to the food delivery market to lend context to the discussion:

  • Online food ordering has grown 300% faster than dine-in since 2014 and now accounts for roughly 40% of the total restaurant sales.
  • By 2025, online food delivery is expected to grow to a 21% share of the total restaurant market.
  • Global revenue from the food delivery market is projected to reach nearly $97 billion by 2024.

Let’s set the stage from the beginning and see how consumer needs evolve and what you should do about it!

Delivery Service Explosion

The food delivery industry was perfectly positioned to ride the pandemic-fueled digital transformation wave, which flowed directly into the hearts and minds of consumers needing to limit trips outside of their homes. And social media, as well as traditional news outlets, blew up the delivery services discussion.


Delivery services coverage by top-tier US news sources. Feb. 2020 – Feb. 2022

Of course, unprecedented levels of restaurant closures, social distancing measures, and lockdowns contributed significantly to the explosion of delivery adoption and the surrounding conversation. After all, people still had to eat. But anxiety also played a part.

113 Industries, an AI-driven consumer behavioral research and social media agency used social listening to conduct an intensive study of shopping behaviors during the pandemic. During our NetBase Quid Live 2021 event, they shared their findings in a session that “[Unraveled] Shopper Behavior Through Social Intelligence.”

The slide below demonstrates just how much fear, safety, and security impacted consumer emotions – and ultimately, changes in buying behaviors.


During their research, 113 Industries found that consumers began to lean more heavily into delivery services to supply their basic needs due to fear and anxiety. This exploration and social commentary fueled the boom in consumer posts across social media platforms.

It’s important to note that the tone of the online conversation changed over time – which we’ll cover momentarily. In the beginning, there was this noticeable growth in the volume of posts discussing delivery experiences with users familiarizing themselves with the app experiences of their chosen providers.

Some of the top gripes centered around missing or out-of-stock items and limited delivery windows. Interestingly, though, their research also found that there was an undercurrent of patience and appreciation by social users for these delivery services in the beginning.

But, as we mentioned earlier, things don’t tend to stay the same for very long – and that’s why real-time consumer intelligence is so critical. Being caught unaware in a tsunami of shifting consumer emotions is not a great place to be.

Shopper Experience Disconnects

Net sentiment is an excellent metric for understanding the tone of any online conversation, and this one is no different. Sentiment around delivery services began its downward trend after the initial rush died down a little, falling more than 20 percentage points over the rest of 2020.


The study done by 113 Industries found that grocery delivery became synonymous with grocery shopping over time. This is a critical aspect of social listening to keep in mind. If an online conversation shifts into another, then you’re staring at a drop in mentions that may be deceiving. And this is what happened in the delivery services conversation. Only brands that were in tune with the changes in consumer behavior were following the way the narrative transitioned over time. Other brands misread the drop.

As consumers grew accustomed to the delivery aspect of their weekly grocery shopping, their expectations grew, and tolerance for friction declined. Social posts from summer 2020 into 2021 were rife with extreme irritation towards late deliveries, order inaccuracies, and poor customer service, which drove the precipitous decline in sentiment.

Meeting consumers’ evolving needs felt like a tall order, but it really wasn’t with the right insight.

Meeting Consumers’ Evolving Needs

Consumers voice their opinions loud and clear online. And overwhelmingly, what they want from delivery services are reliable delivery times, accurate visibility of product availability, supportive customer service, reasonable pricing – and the more extensive the selection, the better.

Again, 113 Industries found how fulfillment priorities have shifted from the beginning of the pandemic to the present using social listening; demonstrating how crucial it is to have this kind of consumer intelligence available before building a strategy.


Based on their comprehensive research, they came to a potentially category-disrupting conclusion: “We hypothesize legacy delivery models, even with retooling, may not be equipped to exceptionally deliver against heightened demand and expectations. New models, built for the future of delivery demand, with the customer in the forefront, may be able to capitalize on potential – specifically, a vertically-integrated model where there is ownership of every step from order to fulfillment to delivery.”

Consumers are still excited to use delivery – when online retailers hit the touchstones of price, variety, timeliness, and accessibility. Vertical integration allows retailers to excel in this capacity where others drop the ball.

Delivery services using third-party components may soon find themselves playing second-fiddle to up-and-comers capable of controlling the consumer experience from end-to-end. These brands will be better oriented to provide their customers with the transparency and consistent outcomes that people want. And at the end of the day, what it all boils down to is – customers want delivery services that don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Consistency is king. They don’t want delivery robots for the sake of having delivery robots – they need to function in way that meets consumer expectations:

Using all of this research as a basis for its own work, Gopuff is well-positioned to disrupt the delivery services industry. With hundreds of micro-fulfillment centers delivering to over 1,000 cities and counting, they’re meeting consumers where they are, and maintaining control over the entire customer experience – from order, all the way through to delivery. And we’re guessing their post-purchase game is equally on-point.


We saw in the opening infographic that Gopuff’s online mentions are a fraction of what Doordash is pulling down. But – their net sentiment and passion intensity are completely reversed. And we find that that’s often a great predictor of brand popularity down the road.

So, is Gopuff the best-kept secret in the delivery market? It’s entirely possible. They have vertical integration and a data-driven approach that relies heavily on the voice of the customer using social listening.

You don’t have to take our word for it, though. Sara Fogel, Director of Customer Engagement at Gopuff, was also a speaker at our NetBase Live 2021 event. Her session, Harnessing the Power of Collaboration in Driving Innovative Research, is available on-demand so that you can see their approach in action. Hint: It works.

People’s needs are constantly changing. Brands that want to stay ahead of the competition must be diligent in their social listening. Otherwise, disruptors who’ve done their consumer intelligence homework, like Gopuff, are going to come along and shake things up. Reach out for a demo, and we’ll help you ensure you’re consistently gathering fresh consumer insights to inform your next move!

The Importance of Continuous Consumer & Market Intelligence

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