Morgan Stanley
  • Thoughts on the Market Podcast
  • Jun 12, 2024

Convenience Is Compelling


Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I’m Michelle Weaver, Morgan Stanley’s U.S. Thematic Strategist. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, today I’ll talk about convenience and why it’s such an important factor for a number of industries. 

It’s Wednesday, June 12, at 11am in New York.

The consumer has been weakening around the edges, and this is flowing through to companies' bottom line. Our Consumer Economist thinks that consumption is likely to continue to slow this year and even into 2025 as the labor market cools and that weighs on real disposable income, elevated rates continue to pressure debt service costs, and tighter lending standards limit credit availability.  

And given this setup, companies have been focusing on their value offerings, and we saw a lot of commentary around this during first quarter earnings calls.  Mentions of just the word value itself were elevated. But value isn't the whole story, and consumers aren’t always just choosing the cheapest option. 

You and I are consumers. We are all consumers. Think about the last time you bought something. Did you pick one retailer over another because buying the item was easier? Did the company have a better website or a better mobile app? Did they offer faster shipping options or free shipping? Would the product itself save you time? And how much more were you willing to pay to make the more convenient choice? 

Convenience is a valuable product and a key factor in consumer choice. In fact, our survey shows that 77 percent of US consumers rate it as important and base purchasing decisions on it.

Our work suggests three key conclusions. On average, consumers would be willing to pay about a 5 percent price premium for convenience. And there are two groups that place a particular emphasis on it  - those who are younger and those who are more affluent.

Second, consumers are willing to choose one company's product or service over another's because of convenience. Staples products and food away from home are the industries where consumers are especially likely to pick one option over another.

And third, shipping features like free shipping or fast shipping are the most important convenience-related criteria when shopping online.

Several industries stand to benefit from providing convenience. And convenience has been a long-term, persistent driver of eCommerce. Consumers love the combination of an ever-expanding assortment of goods and services and shrinking delivery times – and this is convenience really at its best. Convenience is easier to deliver for categories with standardized, durable products with lower purchase frequency that are easier to deliver like electronics or travel. But even within an already winning industry there is still a lot of opportunity, especially within the least penetrated categories, grocery and household and personal care.

In Restaurants, fast casual is likely to continue to take share given the combination of quality and convenience. Restaurants that have led digital access -- like mobile and online orders as well as online reservations – have posted impressive growth over time. Some fast-food chains have also invested in a digital approach and will likely to continue to build on this in the future.

Now unlike internet and restaurants, the parcels industry is facing a large threat from convenience, specifically fast and free shipping and easy returns. Their networks were not built to handle the quick delivery required of ecommerce volumes today, and the business-to-consumer shipping that is offered by the largest online vendors.

We think convenience is an important factor for companies and one they can use to differentiate themselves in customers minds.

Thanks for listening. If you enjoy the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and share Thoughts on the Market with a friend or colleague today.

Our U.S. Thematic Strategist explains the premium that consumers will pay for convenience, and what that means for sectors including online retail, dining and package delivery.