Grocers Have No Choice But to go Digital

The Lempert Report
November 18, 2020

Acosta’s “The Mobile-ization of Grocery” report says that the mobile phone has become an indispensable tool for supermarket shoppers while in-store.

They found that nearly nine out of 10 U.S. grocery shoppers (89%) now use a smartphone at the store.

Even more important is that 58% of consumers polled report being comfortable using digital and online tools to help with food shopping.  The United States has more than 260 million smartphone users, according to Acosta. 93% of those ages 18 to 39 saying they use a smartphone when shopping overall. Seventy-one percent of Millennial/Gen Z customers (ages 18-39) indicate they’re comfortable using digital/online tools when grocery shopping, compared with 66% for Generation X (ages 39-55), 44% for Baby Boomers (ages 55-74) and 35% for “Silent Shoppers” (ages 75 and older). Acosta says 34% of shoppers said they view their grocery store circular online, and 26% access the digital circular via their grocer’s mobile app. 30% of the nine in 10 respondents who use a grocery shopping list (paper, mental or mobile) indicated they opt for a mobile list, up from 23% in 2015. More than seven in 10 shoppers report using a grocery retailer’s app, to place online orders, find products in the store and participate in loyalty programs, to name just a few. 

According to the study, 30% of grocery shoppers redeem online/mobile coupons downloaded to their smartphone. Forty-four percent redeem electronic coupons downloaded to their shopper loyalty card. Redemption of coupons printed from a coupon website has declined to 26% from 35% in 2015. I know I’m throwing a lot of numbers at you, but want to list just a couple more before I reinforce why and how grocers need to go mobile.

Social media has emerged as a key food and groceries channel; 48% said they follow brands/products and 44% retailers/stores through social channels for special promotions or discounts, new items, special events or sales, and product ideas and recipes. We’ve always talked about how important it is to reach shoppers while they are in the store. Now for grocery retailers its easier and cheaper than ever; and this report underscores the desire for shoppers to receive product and price information in the palm of their hands instead of accessing a kiosk, or a coupon device dispenser.

As the recession looms and people want to make decisions more quickly and get out of the store – location based offers, special secret sales and promotions are all valuable tools. And there is one more tool - 15% of U.S. grocery shoppers (and 27% of Millennial shoppers) think it’s important to check a social media site at the store, while 19% (and 32% of Millennials) believe it’s important to share a grocery promotion with friends or family via social media. A new immediate form of word of mouth advertising that can reach many more people and have an implied endorsement which could increase your sales. Yes, be as blunt as you can and in the offer include links to social media to make it easy for your shoppers to share the information.