Acosta Report Explores the “Mobile-ization” of Grocery Shopping and Acceleration Caused by COVID-19


Jacksonville, Fla., (November 6, 2020) — With more than 260 million people now using smartphones in the U.S., it’s no surprise that grocery shopping is becoming an increasingly mobile experience, which has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Research released today in The Mobile-ization of Grocery Shopping report from Acosta — a leading full-service sales and marketing agency in the consumer packaged goods industry — provides insight into how and why consumers are “mobile-izing” when it comes to grocery shopping.

“Smartphones have grown to become a huge part of daily life, so it’s only natural that retailers and shoppers are connecting this technology with the grocery buying experience,” said Colin Stewart, Executive Vice President, Business Intelligence at Acosta. “We saw increased mobile-ization numbers this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shopping experience has significantly changed, and many consumers are limiting their trips to the grocery store and being as efficient as possible with their time in the store. To do this, they are looking to mobile solutions more and more.”

The Mobile-ization of Grocery Shopping provides a comprehensive breakdown of the latest trends in mobile-assisted and online shopping, including:

Who is “Mobile-izing”?

  • Eighty-nine percent of U.S. grocery shoppers are using a smartphone, 22% more than in 2015.
  • Fifty-eight percent of U.S. shoppers agreed they are comfortable using digital/online tools to assist with grocery shopping, up significantly from 35% of shoppers in 2015.
  • A shopper's age/generation strongly correlates with how comfortable they feel using digital tools for grocery shopping, with 74% of Millennial shoppers feeling comfortable compared to less than half of Boomer shoppers.

Digital, Mobile & Social

  • More shoppers are viewing the grocery circular on their smartphones. In 2020, 34% of shoppers viewed the grocery circular online, and 26% of shoppers viewed the grocery circular via a retailer app.
  • Over the past five years, there have been significant shifts in the type of grocery coupons shoppers redeem. The percentage of shoppers redeeming paper/print coupons declined, and significant increases have been seen in the percentage of shoppers who have downloaded grocery coupons to their shopper card or mobile device.
  • More than seven in 10 shoppers report using a grocery retailer’s app. Shoppers use this technology for online orders as well as other reasons including to find products in the store and participate in loyalty programs.
  • Many grocery shoppers follow brands/products (48%) as well as retailers/stores (44%) on social media. Shoppers follow for special promotions or discounts, to learn about new products, to learn about special events or sales, and to get ideas for product use or recipes. 

“Mobile-assisted grocery shopping is here to stay and offers a great opportunity for brands and retailers to truly meet the needs of today’s shoppers,” added Stewart. “By delivering an end-to-end approach from mobile recipe/meal planning and list making to e-commerce and an in-store experience that is enhanced by mobile, they can not only attract more customers but also engage with them in new and meaningful ways — during the pandemic and beyond.”

Acosta’s The Mobile-ization of Grocery Shopping report was compiled using the Company’s proprietary U.S. Shopper Surveys, Fall 2020: 9/25/20 – 10/5/20, and using comparison data from past studies conducted in 2015-2019. Additional facts were sourced from industry research.

About Acosta

Acosta is the sales and marketing powerhouse behind most of the trusted brands seen in stores every day. The company provides a range of outsourced sales, marketing and retail merchandising services throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. For 90 years, Acosta has led the industry in helping consumer packaged goods companies move products off shelves and into shoppers’ baskets.