Grocery Shopping: There's An App For That

Today, there seems to be an app for nearly everything you could ever want. Designed to make life easier, there are even apps for things you didn't know you needed like daily horoscopes. According to Nielsen, the average consumer uses about 27 apps per month.

While many food retailers have developed apps, no one has yet created the perfect combination of convenience and enhanced shopping experience that would make an app an absolute necessity for customers. A new study from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Saint Joseph's University (SJU) looks at what food retails need to know about grocery apps to be successful and profiles various types of digital grocery shoppers.

Digital Grocery Commerce: Insights for Enhancing Consumer Connection with Grocery Shopping Apps, By Nancy M. Childs, PhD, Professor of Food Marketing and Gerald E. Peck Fellow, Saint Joseph's University *IRI DigitalLink™ Segment Characteristics in the general polutions (March 2014),

"The Digital Grocery Commerce: Insights for Enhancing Consumer Connection with Grocery Shopping Apps," conducted by Nancy Childs, Ph.D., professor of food marketing and the Gerald E. Peck fellow at SJU, finds that the more active a shopper is with social media, the less likely it is that shopper will use a grocery retailer's app in a store.

The study also finds that shoppers with large grocery expenditures were most active in utilization of grocery apps. Research suggests there is a need for simplification and customization in grocers' approaches to customer digital engagement.

According to findings from the Peck Fellow Year Two research, using the IRI DigitaLinkTM segmentation, there are four major types of primary grocery shoppers using smartphones and aware of apps. These include:

Digital Enthusiasts – These shoppers are confident and active online-grocery shoppers. They are young with large households and they embrace technology. Digital Enthusiasts are maturing shoppers looking for convenience and personalization. They are a shopper segment food retailers should focus on for app usage. As a digitally active segment, they represent the full opportunity for the Future.

Wired for Work – These shoppers are savvy grocery shoppers who actively use their smartphones. As a more affluent group, Wired for Work shoppers could easily embrace a grocery app if it is meaningfully convenient and personalized in a way that balances their interests in price. They are a shopper segment food retailers should focus on for app usage, and can be considered a nascent opportunity identified as the Tomorrow segment.

Show Me The Money – These shoppers represent the more traditional grocery value segment and are seeking price. App functions that help them meet this need will appeal to them the most. These shoppers need a price incentive in order to utilize a grocery app, and as a segment, represent Price behavior using grocery shopping apps.

Socializers – While these shoppers are active on social media and may even be engaging with brands on those channels, they are not currently using grocery apps or online shopping. Their social sophistication represents an opportunity for food retailers to connect with them by offering a customized grocery app. They are identified as an Opportunity segment in the study.

As food retailers continue to search for the best combination of app features to please customers it is important to remember the key value of any app – they are designed to offer solutions. With this in mind, FMI will be launching our first ever FMI News App in 2015 designed to help our members stay informed about the latest emerging issues facing food retailers. Stay tuned for details and for a copy of the full grocery app research, visit

Acting on Commitments: The FMI Foundation Launches National Family Meals Month

Cathy Polley, RPh, Executive Director, FMI Foundation & Vice President, Health & Wellness, FMI

At the end of each year, as my family and friends gather around the dining table in celebration of the holiday season, we discuss the year gone by and look to the year ahead. We talk about our personal victories and accomplishments, and about where our children's lives have taken them that year and where they're headed in the upcoming one. While the conversation varies from year to year, this now defacto tradition serves to bookend one year and help us begin the next with renewed energy toward our goals.

In the same spirit, albeit around a conference table with colleagues rather than my dinner table with family, I reflect on the year had by the FMI Foundation. The Foundation committed to its causes in a big way in 2014. Under industry direction and with generous industry support, the Foundation committed to expanding existing programs and forming new partnerships to help the Foundation deliver on its mission–to further research and education in the areas of food safety, health and nutrition–with greater impact. One of the Foundation's greatest commitments of resources in 2014 was to FMI's Let's Put Our Plates Together (LPOPT) family meals program.

More than 300 leaders from across the food retail industry helped the Foundation take its first steps toward honoring this commitment at the 2014 Foundation Dinner by pledging their support to LPOPT. This call to action from food retail executives served as a springboard for the Foundation to take LPOPT to the next level with its launch of National Family Meals Month (NFMM). For 30 days in September 2015, the Foundation is asking FMI members nationwide to come together and embrace a new annual industry holiday that positions the grocer as the family mealtime solution.

As a retailer you are well aware that prepared meals and pre-prepped ingredients are driving profits and customer loyalty in your stores. While many of you have existing family meals centric programs designed to offer busy consumers simple meal solutions, the opportunity remains for the industry to demonstrate solidarity in its commitment to helping families cook and eat more meals at home. Though there is no shortage of research documenting the benefits of family meals, and the bulk of your customers agree that family meals are desirable, polls show Americans are struggling to get food and family in the same place at the same time. Grocers can bring families back to the table and the Foundation is here to help. NFMM is designed to help the retailer help the customer. It is a flexible campaign, scaleable for retailers of all sizes and demographics, and easily integrated into existing meal solution programs. As part of NFMM, the Foundation will provide FMI members with access to an online toolkit chock-full of creative elements and turnkey marketing tools for in-store activation and social media engagement.

The past year was marked by big commitments. In the year to come, the Foundation will act on those commitments. It will not only give life to NFMM, but also expand LPOPT and seize new opportunities to grow education resources and research partnerships. The 2014 Annual Report, available at, highlights how industry support enables us to further education and research in the areas of food safety, health and nutrition–the core mission of the Foundation. I look forward to joining my colleagues this time next year at the conference table to declare NFMM an industry success!