Three quarters of UK consumers now use the internet for grocery shopping

A new study has found that three-quarters of UK consumers use the internet to buy their household groceries and that saving money is a major reason why they shop online.

The 2012 Nielsen Global Survey of Digital’s Influence on Grocery Shopping in the UK has revealed that 48% of those who went online for grocery shopping looked for deals, while 30% went to coupon websites and 25% used the internet to compare prices. Among those looking for grocery coupons, more than a quarter (26%) did so on a daily basis.

Shoppers in the UK were shown to be more likely to use the internet for saving money on groceries than Europeans as a whole with 43% of Europeans looking for deals online and 22% seeking out coupons.

More than a quarter (27%) of the UK online consumers surveyed said they intended to buy food and drink products online in the coming months. This makes groceries the third most popular category in the UK behind travel bookings (30%t) and books, newspapers and magazines (28%). This compares to groceries being the seventh most popular category just two years ago.

Almost half (47%) of the online UK consumers surveyed said that they used the internet for grocery research, such as checking a price or reading a consumer review. Among this group, one in five said they did this on a daily basis.

Nielsen UK head of retailer insight explained: “Grocery shopping and the internet go together like bread and butter for three-quarters of Brits. It shows just how aware supermarkets and brands need to be about how it impacts their bottom line – not just in what products people buy, but the prices they pay and where they get them from.

“One in every 10 Brits online uses the web for grocery shopping research every day, while 8% visit a coupon site daily for grocery deals. The growth in smartphones and apps makes this easier than ever. Retailers cannot ignore trends such as that.”

Nearly half (46%) of UK consumers who bought or researched grocery shopping online said the internet accounted for at least one-quarter of their total online and offline grocery activity time while 27% said online accounted for at least half their total grocery activity time.

The research found that, the rise in food prices has been the biggest factor determining what grocery brands and products UK consumers have purchased during the past year. This was followed by increased transportation costs (27%), health reasons and retailer loyalty programmes (both 21%). The availability of self-service checkouts has also had a major impact on the grocery choices of 18% of UK consumers online.

Watkins added: “Three of the four biggest factors impacting what people have bought over the last year relate to cost, which reinforces the price sensitivity of Britons when it comes to grocery shopping. So, while much has been made about fitness and wellbeing in this, an Olympic year, British shoppers are as likely to make purchase decisions based on retailer loyalty programmes and the use of coupons and vouchers – available online or via their smartphones – as they are on what’s best for their health.”

Nielsen’s research surveyed more than 28,000 internet consumers in 56 countries.

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