It is Thanksgiving eve. I stand daydreaming in a long line at the grocery store, and am suddenly yanked from my pre-holiday reverie when I notice the person being checked out is playing with his phone. His phone! In line! Egregious. Inconsiderate. Unacceptably rude to hold up a line because you can’t put your phone away. But just before I could speak up to inform the clerk and the world of this individual’s blatant disregard for order, he “figures it out.” I know this, because he says, “Okay, I figured it out.” He then floats his phone over the credit card reader on the counter, no swiping or button-pushing for this guy, and the transaction is complete. Line moving well again. I’m stunned, mouth agape, staring in awe. I’ve heard of it, but never actually seen it – he used a smartphone to pay.
This is just one of many functions that smartphones are serving for modern grocery shoppers. For the millennial generation, those aged 18 – 34, shopping has become another internet-related activity. This creates a sticky situation for marketers, who are losing out when brand-loyalty is displaced for the best values. The perfect storm of tech-savvy shoppers, many of whom are still searching for jobs amidst a still-cresting wave of recession, has spawned a generation that will check their smartphone to see if they can find a better price elsewhere, or with another brand. The millennials are already what Gladwell would call market “mavens”: those who use their tech-smarts to educate themselves about products and save money to the point where they are an authority on the subject. Add the capability to compare prices in real time, and marketers are given cause to take notice.
More and more, grocery cart collisions are based on people staring at their phone rather than products on the shelves. According to eMarketer.com, shoppers use those phones to: compare item prices while in the grocery store (61%), hunt for coupons (57%), access a shopping list (54%), and search recipes (51%).
This is not to say that brand-loyalty is not still present in the heart of the consumer. While a report shows that 87% of millennial shoppers say that item price is the predominant factor in their purchasing choice, 70% still say that previous use and/or trust of the brand weighs heavily on their decision. For the marketer, the implications remain that the smartphone or tablet must be taken into account for grocery shoppers.
People are using smartphones to make themselves smart shoppers. And now, it would seem, they’re even using them to pay. Looks like I have another app to download.
Do you have a digital shopping list? Let us know in the comment section below.