Appetite for Savings Strong as Online Grocery Shopping Grows   

By Jack Grant

Consumers have an increased affinity for shopping online for food, household goods and health and beauty care (HBC) products while balancing their desire to save money, says a new study. In fact, 68 percent of online grocery shoppers report using coupons and discounts to save money is the most important factor when shopping.

Those insights stem from Valassis’ 2k19 Coupon Intelligence Report. The study provides marketers and retailers with insights on how today’s consumers shop for their groceries and how trading partners can keep up with evolving consumer behavior to maintain a competitive edge.

Overall, 63 percent of consumers make all or most of their food purchases in-store. Online shopping has increased year over year with 44 percent for food, 40 percent for HBC products and 38 percent for household items.

As the grocery landscape evolves, consumers continue to seek savings and convenience via print and digital channels. Online grocery shoppers are prominent coupon advocates, with 65 percent always or very often using them versus 45 percent of all consumers. To benefit from enhanced savings, 60 percent always or very often load coupons onto loyalty/frequent shopper cards versus 40 percent of all respondents. Meanwhile, 36 percent of all consumers would use more coupons if they were able to use them in any store or online. About one in four consumers (25 percent) avoid shopping online because they can’t use coupons or get in-store deals.

According to the report, the online grocery experience still has room for improvement. Among online grocery shoppers:

  • 64 percent miss the sensory experience of touching and smelling produce

  • 62 percent find it frustrating when they can’t use coupons or discounts

  • 62 percent are uncomfortable having someone else pick out their produce or other perishable items.

“In today’s ultra-competitive grocery environment, the stakes are high for brands and retailers to truly understand the consumer and what’s important to them in order to drive activation,” said Michelle Engle, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Valassis. “The trends we see as consumers change their shopping patterns have propelled us to develop new innovative products to capture this buyer. We launched an Add to Cart offering last year to meet consumer expectations of ease and convenience while shopping online. We have seen significant growth with clients utilizing our shoppable ads functionality to build loyalty and create a more personalized experience.”

She said findings from the report provide a greater understanding of the online grocery shopper based on behaviors they always or very often do. This understanding helps brands and retailers better engage shoppers. For example:

  • The online grocery shopper is no amateur at finding savings.
- 76 percent prioritize going to a store with the lowest prices when shopping for groceries
- 59 percent take paper/printed coupons with them on shopping trips.

  • The online grocery shopper has higher engagement with store circulars to determine where to shop.
- 62 percent look at printed circulars/ads to determine where to shop vs. 46 percent of all consumers
- 60 percent look at online circulars/weekly ads to decide which retailers to shop at vs. 37 percent of all consumers.

Online shopping does appeal more broadly to consumers aiming to balance work and home priorities. According to Valassis’ report, 29 percent of respondents indicate work and family needs make it challenging to complete shopping, household tasks and errands. Additionally, nearly half (46 percent) said they need better solutions to save more money and 39 percent said the same about saving time. With that, retailers are taking note by offering more convenience-oriented options such as buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS) and home delivery services.

In terms of the online grocery shopper, defined within the report, Valassis found that three of four of them (77 percent) are between 18 and 44 years old, skewing more heavily toward millennials, younger Gen Xers, males and households that have an average income of $80,900. The top reasons consumers are shopping online include saving time (66 percent), a larger selection of products (66 percent), easier than shopping in-store (65 percent), and less expensive than shopping in brick-and-mortar venues (59 percent).

                                               Early May 2019
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