Most Grocers Underestimate the Power of Digital

Most grocery executives underestimate the power of digital in the consumer’s path to purchase, according to the results of an on-site survey conducted at FMI2012 conducted by MaxPoint Interactive, which found discrepancies between grocery executives’ insights around digital advertising and actual consumer behavior.

More than 100 food retail industry executives were polled on changes they’ve seen in the shopping behaviors of the post-recession consumer. The research revealed that only 20 percent of respondents think consumers use digital mediums to prepare for their shopping trips. However, a BIGinsight study released yesterday found that 90 percent of consumers regularly research products online before purchasing them in store.

Overall, the MaxPoint research found that, in a post-recession economy, consumers are trying to find the best ways to maximize their monthly spend. Some of these news habits as reported by the Grocery Industry Pulse: “Reaching Today’s Cost-Conscious Consumer,” include: shopping at multiple stores to find the best prices and deals; a heavier reliance on coupons and sales and an increase in research on digital channels before making an in-store purchase.

To compare these findings, executives at FMI2012 were asked how they’ve seen their shoppers’ behaviors change in the past year to determine if they are using the most effective methods to reach today’s grocery shopper. Key findings from the survey conducted on the show floor include:

Executives are aware that consumers are shopping multiple grocery stores: Consumers can expect to see increased incentive to complete their shopping in one location, as approximately 35 percent of grocery executives recognized that shoppers have become less store-loyal and more cost-conscious. Approximately 15 percent of respondents said that consumers are more frequently shopping at discount stores and club stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.
Consumers are Shopping Closer to Home: Approximately 30 percent of respondents recognized that consumers now tend to shop at grocery stores closest to their home.
Coupons and Sales Aren’t Going Anywhere: Approximately 32 percent of executives shared that they have seen an increase in the use of print coupons, while 31 percent have seen an increase in the use of digital/mobile coupons.
Splurging Has Taken a Backseat: Twenty percent of executives shared that “splurging” on items at the grocery store has been cut back. They said consumers are just buying what is needed.

“As more consumers are increasingly using digital mediums to prepare for their in-store shopping experience, it was interesting to see a varying point of view from grocery executives around these changing shopper behaviors,” said Gretchen Joyce, chief operating officer at MaxPoint Interactive. “The combination of our research and BIGinsight’s report provide great insights into how consumers now make purchasing decisions and the role that digital plays in those decisions. We’ve learned that consumers are doing more research online before buying in the store, shopping closer to home and are highly influenced by incentives and coupons. Grocery retailers should take these key points into consideration as they build new marketing and advertising campaigns.”

Click here for a copy of the full research brief.

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