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Contrary to the traditional view that U.S. consumers find grocery shopping a chore, research from Acosta Sales & Marketing, which specializes in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, has found that most shoppers now look forward to their grocery store trips. Acosta’s most recent "The Why? Behind the Buy" report revealed that 54 percent of total U.S. shoppers said they enjoy grocery shopping, up from 41 percent in 2011.
The report showed significant increases in shopper enjoyment within particular ethnic and age groups: 72 percent of Asian-Americans, 67 percent of African-Americans, 66 percent of Hispanics and 64 percent of Millennials reported that they like to shop for food. Among all U.S. consumers who enjoy shopping, 40 percent said they like seeking out new products to try, 38 percent like hunting for the best deals/sale items, and 25 percent like browsing the aisle for items.
"It's extremely encouraging for the grocery industry to see that consumers are shopping with renewed enthusiasm," noted Colin Stewart, SVP at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Acosta. "Shopper engagement, combined with improving economic conditions and increased consumer confidence, is giving way to an improved environment for CPGs and retailers to build brand loyalty, introduce new products and grow their business."
Additional report findings, on changing eating patterns, included the following:
- Shopper spending is increasing: Monthly grocery spending has grown, likely because of inflation, even as sales volume lags. Shoppers reported spending an average of $318.70 monthly on groceries — the highest figure since Acosta started the survey in 2009 — versus $288.70 last year. Spending on food prepared outside the home has risen considerably — shoppers said they spent an average of $123.70 monthly, compared with $101 last year.
- Snacking is rising. The growth of snack food categories is outpacing that of traditional meal products as fewer people opt to eat three square meals daily. Almost seven in 10 snacking consumers said they'd had a snack instead of a meal at least once in the past month. Millennials are the least likely to eat three meals a day, being more likely to snack on protein/energy bars, smoothies/blended drinks and energy drinks.
- Frozen foods will be hot. While frozen foods have seen sales declines, younger generations may present a fruitful target demographic for this category going forward. Thirty percent of Millennials and 21 percent of Gen Xers said they’ve bought more frozen foods in the past year, and 21 percent of Millennials and 17 percent of Gen Xers shopped new frozen food categories in the past year. Further, 16 percent of Millennials said they expect to spend more on frozen foods in the next year, giving such reasons as the convenience and longer shelf life of such items.
- Digital grocery technology is becoming ubiquitous. Twenty-seven percent of shoppers said they check out a store's digital circular before shopping, 17 percent make use of a shopping list on a mobile device while in the store, and 22 percent log onto store loyalty programs/update points/trip information after shopping.
"The Why? Behind The Buy" features the results of a nationally representative random sample of U.S. shoppers via Acosta's proprietary ShopperF1rst online survey last spring.