When it comes to those who buy their groceries online, you know the type – busy moms, whose time is more valuable than money, who choose the quick and easy option rather than the one that can provide the best bang for their buck. Retailers and brands love them, because they don’t have to worry about providing coupons and deals to shoppers who are fine with paying full price.

But that’s not always the case anymore. More deal-seekers are turning to online grocery shopping expressly to save money – and retailers and brand that don’t cater to these more price-sensitive shoppers risk losing business to competitors that do.

The retail data analytics company 84.51° calls these shoppers “Digital Dabblers.” And in its new report “Winning with the omnichannel shopper in the face of disruption,” 84.51° finds that these dabblers are the fastest-growing segment of online grocery shoppers.

Digital Dabblers have “less online engagement” and “tend to be more price-sensitive” than “Digital Champs,” who are frequent online shoppers more concerned with convenience than price. But grocers looking to boost their online business can’t rely on attracting more Digital Champs, because their numbers appear to have peaked. “Those who are very price sensitive have some of the highest trip-per-household growth over the past year,” the report found, indicating that the less-price-sensitive shopper segment has already maxed out.

So the future of online grocery growth could rely on attracting more dabblers. And what they’re attracted to, are coupons and deals.

Among those who buy some or all of their groceries online, 70% told 84.51° that they’re looking for sales, deals and coupons more often. And that’s borne out by the data – 84.51° noted that its parent company Kroger saw a 92% increase in digital coupon page views this year as compared to last year.


When they can’t find coupons or deals, more than half of shoppers are cutting back or looking elsewhere. “Customers who are disproportionately driven by price are increasingly willing to skip products that are considered a ‘nice to have’ versus a ‘must have’ and switch to competitors that may deliver a similar benefit at a lower price,” the report found.

Convenience remains the top reason why shoppers choose to order their groceries online for pickup or delivery. But saving money is now the number-two reason. While shopping online may have a reputation for being more expensive, “very price-sensitive shoppers are especially likely to quote saving money as a reason they use pickup or delivery,” the report noted. Some of these shoppers find it easier to identify deals online, as compared to searching through a printed weekly circular or wandering up and down the aisles looking for savings. Others say shopping online helps them save money by forcing them to stick to their list and avoid impulse purchases.

And coupons and deals help, too. When shopping online and deciding what to put in their basket, 84.51° found that “coupons are omnichannel shoppers’ favorite” tool, cited by 62%. Health and beauty care products earn the most digital coupon engagement. Overall, two-thirds of those who shop for groceries online say they expect to be able to find and use the same coupon offers online as they can in-store. That tops all other categories, including prices, the quality of products and the brands offered.

What’s important to retailers is that “the most loyal ecommerce shoppers spend the most at a retailer overall,” the report declared. So the better experience that retailers can provide their occasional online shoppers, the more likely their Digital Dabblers will become Digital Champs.

“Convenience dominates the reason for online shopping,” the report concludes, “but in an inflationary environment, the most price-sensitive shoppers will increase their online engagement when they know they can save money.”

So gone may be the days when grocers can charge higher prices, tack on expensive junk fees, offer fewer deals and expect their online shoppers to happily accept it. Retailers and brands “must meet consumers’ online expectations,” or these Digital Dabblers may turn into Digital Departers – departing their higher-priced grocery store for one that offers the online deals they demand.

Image source: 84.51°

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