There is no question that smartphone ownership and engagement is on the rise in Canada with 67 percent of the population currently owning a smartphone. Furthermore, usage of smartphones is extending into leisure activities, as 38 percent of Canadians cannot imagine being without their tech devices. According to new research from Mintel, Canadians are looking to use their smartphones to enhance the grocery shopping experience. Nearly half (49 percent) of Canadian consumers are interested in the ability to redeem coupons and/or promotions using smartphone apps. However, despite the healthy level of interest, few grocery shoppers are currently using technology to elevate the shopping experience. Specifically, only 13 percent have used a smartphone app to comparison shop at the grocery store and a meager 12 percent have shopped for groceries online.

Online Grocery Shopping is in the Early Stages

Canadians are very familiar with the ease and convenience of online shopping with 71 percent of consumers having shopped online across most categories, including retail. However, the intersection of grocery retail and online shopping carts rarely meet as 88 percent of Canadian grocery shoppers have never shopped for groceries online. Despite the high interest in shopping online across categories like clothing and electronics, interest in online shopping for groceries is low, with only 12 percent of grocery shoppers having used the service. Additionally, a full 68 percent of Canadians have never shopped online for groceries and are not interested in trying it.

12% of Canadian consumers have grocery shopped online

“Our research indicates resistance to grocery shopping online stems primarily from concerns around the freshness of products. However, there is hope for the offering as a fifth of shoppers are interested in making a grocery purchase online, while not having done so to date. Among those who have bought groceries online (12 percent), there is interest in ordering groceries online again (8 percent),” said Carol Wong-Li, Senior Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst at Mintel.

Research shows there is interest in online grocery shopping among consumers, especially the young and those with families. Owing to their greater inclination towards shopping online, the appeal of online shopping is higher for younger grocery shoppers including 26 percent of those under age 45 and 32 percent of Asian Canadians. Additionally, the convenience of the service is recognized by parents with children in the household (28 percent), those from larger households containing three or more people (25 percent) and those who are employed (24 percent). Mintel data shows that those age 25-34 (21 percent), Asian Canadians (24 percent) and parents with children under 18 in the household (18 percent) are all more likely than the average grocery shopper to have made an online purchase.

Who’s Pushing the Shopping Cart?

Overall, the task of grocery shopping is divided such that 51 percent of consumers hold sole responsibility while 42 percent share the task. Those holding sole responsibility are more likely to be women (59 percent) and those with children in the household (58 percent). Though grocery shopping is predominantly a female responsibility, men are engaged in this market with 42 percent holding sole responsibility. As men age, they are more likely to see themselves as contributors to task, with 59 percent of men over the age of 55 sharing grocery shopping responsibilities, though older women still see themselves as the primary grocery provider for the household. The level of male involvement is a reflection of the changing demographic landscape; more people are living on their own and the increasing participation of men in household chores.

Grocery shopping is a frequent activity for those responsible for the task, with 78 percent doing so at least weekly, including 29 percent who do so more often than once a week. Frequency of grocery shopping can be generally divided into three groups: high-frequency, moderate-frequency and light-frequency shoppers. High-frequency shoppers include those who partake in the activity more often than once per week. These shoppers are primarily comprised of two different audiences, including 43 percent of seniors and 35 percent of parents of 12-17-year-olds. The majority of moderate-frequency grocery shoppers are replenishing once a week. Those most likely to be in this group are working full-time (54 percent) and parents of young children under the age of 12 (51 percent). Lastly, light-frequency shoppers, or those who shop two to three times per month, tend to be of the younger Millennial generation, age 18-24 (25 percent).

Wong-Li continues: “Despite the frequency with which Canadians buy groceries, the shopping experience is seen as more of a chore as only 35 percent agree that they enjoy the activity. However, the click-and-collect concept, where shoppers buy online and pick-up in-store, is generating value for many as it combines the ease of online shopping with the need to see/touch items on the shoppers own timeline. This is important for 44 percent of consumers who want to be able to buy things online and pick it up in-store.”

No Compromise on Quality When Sales are on the Grocery List

Canadian grocery shoppers are value-minded, though few are willing to compromise quality for price, with 62 percent agreeing that the former is more important than the latter. That said, 43 percent of shoppers focus on only buying on-sale items and, almost a third (29 percent) of grocery shoppers use coupons when shopping for groceries. Additionally, Canadian grocery shoppers are highly emotionally engaged with finding sales as 73 percent agree that they like the thrill of getting a bargain, and 54 percent actively consult retailers’ flyer/circulars for sale items. Though 36 percent shop with a list and stick to it, many continue to look out for sales while in-store, leading to a third of shoppers often spending more than they had originally intended to.

Press review copies of the Grocery Retailing – Canada 2015 report and interviews with Senior Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst, Carol Wong-Li, are available on request from the press office.

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