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Mom and baby shopping

Grocery shopping can be so routine, and our habits so commonsensical, that it can be hard to understand why marketers are desperate to gain greater understanding of what we do and why. Every time you turn around, there’s a new study that examines how and why we shop, with the ultimate goal of selling us more stuff.

The newest such study promises to pull back the curtain on what Moms are really doing in the grocery store. Where do they prefer to go? Where do they get their coupons? And are they using their phones for more than just phone calls?

The location analytics company Placed examined the movements of 125,000 (opted-in) Moms, and surveyed more than 5,000 of them, to answer questions about what Moms prefer and how and where marketers can best reach them.

The best place to reach them, apparently, is Kroger. The study found that 13.7% of American mothers visited Kroger in November 2013, more than double the percentage that visited ALDI. Not far behind were Safeway and Publix. No huge surprise there, since one would think that the largest grocery chains ought to have the largest number of visitors.

More surprising was the finding that Moms seem to shun specialty supermarkets. Mothers were 41% less likely to visit Whole Foods, and 26% less likely to visit Trader Joe’s than the average shopper. Instead, Moms prefer places like H-E-B. They were 50% more likely to visit H-E-B than the average shopper, 33% more likely to visit Food Lion and 26% more likely to visit ALDI.

You’re also more likely to bump into a Mom at a dollar store. The survey says mothers were 34% more likely to visit Family Dollar, 30% more likely to visit Dollar General and 28% more likely to visit Dollar Tree than the average shopper. “Mothers show a strong propensity to visit deal-focused stores, especially those within the dollar store genre,” the study concludes, “as low prices attracted a large share of mothers.”

Low prices, and coupons too. Since Placed is a mobile-focused company, it focused on digital coupons, and how and where Moms get them. Among the unsurprising findings were that “mothers that shopped at Kroger and Safeway were more likely to go directly to the grocer’s website/app to access coupons while they were shopping,” while Publix shoppers were “less likely to turn to grocers’ websites to seek coupons.” That’s likely because Kroger and Safeway have the most robust digital coupon sites/apps in the industry, while Publix is practically just getting started.

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Curiously, what most couponers would probably find least surprising of all seemed to shock Placed, enough for it to headline its news release announcing the study. “Just 5% of smartphone couponing moms prefer to access CPG (consumer packaged goods) sites while in stores, with coupon and grocer websites preferences 5 times larger.” In other words, those who use digital coupons go to digital coupon sites, instead of to each and every manufacturer’s website. The study claims this points “to a lack of awareness and adoption among mothers,” while others might argue it points to pure common sense – the average grocery store carries more than 42,000 different products. That’s a lot of websites to visit, when you could instead choose to visit a coupon site that aggregates them all.

Finally, the most surprising finding is probably also the least believable. Fully 80% of Moms are said to use their smartphones to perform “grocery shopping activities”, such as making shopping lists, finding or accessing coupons, looking up recipes or comparing prices.

Sure, some may find that their smartphones come in handy while grocery shopping. But – 80 percent??

Just yesterday, in a discussion about inMarket’s new location-based grocery marketing system, a contributor to the industry website RetailWire questioned exactly how many people are really glued to their phones while shopping. “I am in supermarkets all the time in my home town and in various cities around the country,” wrote CPGmatters.com Editor in Chief John Karolefski. “I have never, ever, seen even one shopper engaging with a smartphone in the aisle for anything other than a telephone call. And I look for them.”

If 80% seems too high, 0% is probably too low. But consider Placed’s methodology – those who were surveyed, answered questions via smartphone. So presumably they have a greater propensity to use their phones for everything, at least more than the Moms in Karolefski’s neighborhood.

So what does all of this really tell us – or marketers? That Moms like to save money, to do so efficiently, they’re practical about where they shop and, depending on whom you ask, either virtually all or virtually none of them are using smart phones while they shop. Or, as the report concludes, “mothers are the key customer segment for grocery retailers and CPGs, as they are the primary decision maker for household spending decisions. By understanding the connection between moms and the grocery aisles they visit, retailers and CPGs are able to better address this segment to increase market share and target audience reach.”

With findings like these, though, this wouldn’t be the first time a bunch of men have spent a lot of time and money, in a losing effort to understand women.

Image source: USDAgov

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2 Comments

  1. Most of this did seem completely non surprising, but it confirmed that mothers tend to be rather price conscious. Now as to the smart phone use while shopping. I also have to say that I have not tended to see where I lived in Wisconsin or in Tennessee, but I have recently started using my phone while shopping. I do have a shopping list program on it, which isn’t wonderful, but does okay. It is fun to make the list as I speak the items into the phone and most of them it gets right. Havarti cheese completely confused it. Maybe more will begin to use their phone that way, as I am rather new to it. I had been using an ipod touch though for the grocery list at least before the new phone.

    • I use the calculator function on my phone occasionally while shopping, and I can see how smartphones could be useful for making shopping lists. When it comes to browsing for coupons though, or these apps that promise to alert you every time there’s a deal or something the store wants you to buy, I’m not sure how many people would find that helpful – I’d just as soon turn the phone off than be glued to the thing while trying to get my shopping done!

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