The Rise of Digital and The Impact on In-Store Engagement


While grocery shoppers once rallied exclusively around Sunday circulars and in-aisle coupons, now they rely on a mix of traditional and digital promotions to maximize their shopping experience according to HelloWorld’s 2017 Digital and In-Store Engagement survey. The survey polled 1,600+ U.S. residents ages 18-65 about their engagement, rewards, and purchase behaviors while shopping for groceries.

Mobile has become the ultimate shopping buddy, connecting consumers to their favorite brands at all phases of the consumer journey and influencing purchase decisions in the store. While clothing and restaurant brands were among the first to embrace mobile activations — often serving as trailblazers when it comes to emerging social media, in-store technology and real-time engagement — consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands have quickly followed in their footsteps.

With U.S. retail ecommerce sales in food and beverage expected to have the highest compound annual growth rate between 2015-2020, CPG brands must continue to devise their digital marketing strategies, while finding new ways to engage in traditional retail stores.

The report, which looks at shopper behaviors and motivators through the lens of mobile, promotions, and technology, reveals that digital channels are playing an influential role within the consumer packaged goods and retail ecosystem, with a growing percentage of consumers turning to apps, SMS, and digital loyalty programs in store.

The Rise of In-Store Mobile Utility

The research validates the fact that digital engagement continues to grow as a valuable and necessary component of a CPG brand’s shopper marketing strategy, connecting consumers to their favorite brands at all phases of the consumer journey and influencing purchase decisions in the store. In-store mobile engagement is particularly on the rise, with 45% of consumers favoring promotional offers shared via text and 57% citing they are likely to download a mobile app to earn loyalty rewards.

While making in-the-moment purchasing decisions, many shoppers still have questions about products and are willing to take additional action on mobile to find out more about products and promotions.

In fact, 41% of consumers would reach out for product info while at shelf, whether to a friend or directly to a brand. Text and SMS are the preferred method of in-store communication, with 19% turning to texting or branded chatbots to get product info at shelf. While brand engagement is valuable at any stage of the path to purchase, a meaningful at-shelf interaction can seal the deal at the moment of truth and convert to a purchase.

Social Media

Social media has emerged as a powerful in-store channel. 29% of shoppers use social media while in store, either to help with shopping, connect with friends, or pass the time. Brands like Toys R Us and Target have seen success with custom Snapchat geofilters, which appear to shoppers when they’re near brick-and-mortar locations and can be incorporated into their pictures and videos. Social features are targeted toward millennial shoppers, encouraging them to capture in- store experiences they may not have otherwise shared with followers.

Mobile Messaging

Nearly half (45%) of CPG shoppers prefer to access promotional offers via text/SMS in store, while purchases are top of mind. In recent years, beacon technology has emerged as a powerful communication tool across clothing stores, supermarkets — and even museums, airports and sports arenas — to pass along timely information and offers. When an app-toting customer steps in store, brands have the ability to send push notifications about sales, special promotions and highlighted products to encourage further purchases.

On-Pack Callouts

Packaging also plays an especially essential role in continuing consumer relationships and engaging shoppers in store. The report also reveals key motivators around how shoppers engage with products in-store — and what elements of presentation and promotion encourage purchases. It states that package messaging is often a decision-making asset, with 75% of shoppers more likely to purchase a product if its package features a coupon. Similarly, 33% are more likely to purchase a product when the package offers a chance to earn loyalty points, and 28% are more likely to purchase when the package features a chance to win a prize.

To provide value to the modern shopper, it is imperative that CPG brands and their retail partners activate digital and mobile strategies that forge impactful relationships and entice engagement.


This research was conducted by HelloWorld in 2017. An online survey of 20 questions was completed by 1,600+ participants, examining their engagement, rewards, and purchase behaviors while shopping for groceries. Participants reside in the U.S. and range between 18 and 65 in age.