By Steve Markenson, Director of Research, Food Marketing Institute
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The answer to the question is – let me count the ways.

This year’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends study took a deep dive into the world of technology to understand how the evolving digital world is changing how Americans shop for food and how that may impact food retailers. On the surface, when we decided to explore this, we thought we could add a few more questions to our survey and that would cover the subject. But the list kept growing as we realized how pervasive technology is in the relationship between shoppers and their grocery purchases.

Yes, depending on how you ask the question, about one-third of shoppers have purchased groceries online. But, technology has embedded its tentacles into so many aspects of food shopper-retailer interactions. Let’s take a look at some of the ways:

Grocery Lists

Many of us still make that paper and pencil list, even online shoppers still do this. But we are now also using digital tools and services for lists in general and those specifically for groceries, along with list services offered by our grocery store’s website or app.

Sales and Coupons

The weekly circular and the paper coupon are not dead yet. But that does not stop shoppers from searching online for discounts, doing price comparison online and using digital coupons.

Grocery Store Apps

The proportion of shoppers downloading the app specifically for their grocery store increased by almost 50 percent since 2017. Grocery store apps are reported to be among the fastest growing categories of apps, and that growth is expected to continue in the next year.


Take a look down any grocery store aisle and you will see shoppers of all generations with their smartphones at the ready. The smartphone usage in aisle ranges from coupons and price comparisons to stored grocery lists and recipes and many other things. Not to mention the text messages to and from the spouse and/or kids about what they want.

Google It

Whether shopping from home or with their smartphone, technology provides a world of information right at our fingertips. Shoppers can easily get product reviews, recipes, price comparisons and nutritional information on any screen they have in front of them. And, with the launch of SmartLabel®, the depth and breadth of information will only grow.


While we did not explore payment methods in this year’s Trends research (it is on the list for next year), technology is having a growing impact in this area. We can now scan our own purchases (sometimes with our own smartphone) and we can pay with a wave of our device or a click of a button. Is this the end of lost time in the checkout line?

There’s More

This just scratches the surface. We have just blown by some of the technology basics, such as your store’s website, customized e-newsletters, the expansive social media options, text messaging, etc. The customer touchpoint opportunities are numerous and continue to expand.

So, the new answer to the question at hand is let me count all the ways (if I can count that high) technology is changing grocery shopping. Retailers need to be thinking beyond just online sales when they consider the role of technology in their marketing/business plans.

If you missed any of our three webinars on this year’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends study, recordings of them are available on our website, as is the full report. The third of the webinars specifically explores the impact of technology on grocery shopping.

Download U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends Report