Even though groceries are still mostly bought in-store, many consumers use digital tools before, during and after a visit to a supermarket. These multiple touchpoints provide opportunities for grocers to engage with shoppers.
According to a February 2018 survey by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and The Hartman Group, 72% of US grocery buyers interact with grocery retailers in some digital form. The most common interaction being the use of a rewards card or account, cited by 50% of those polled. Among those ages 18 to 37 (which this study classified as millennials), the leading touchpoint used is a mobile app (51%). And this group is almost twice as likely to engage with a grocer on social media than the average.
In a May 2018 survey by Market Force Information, 44% of US consumers said they used a grocery app, up from 39% in 2017. This study drilled down into what types of mobile apps shoppers use and found that the overwhelming majority (79%) had used a grocer's branded app in the past 90 days. Checkout 51 (21%) and SavingStar (11%) were the next two cited by name, while weekly ads and sales apps, generally, had similar levels of usage (11%).
The survey also found that the primary activity on grocery mobile apps is getting coupons, cited by 82%. Using a bar code scanner is also popular (40%). Many apps like Grocery iQ and Out of Milk use this functionality to quickly add products to a shopping list, and there are also apps for scanning and checking ingredients.