McCOY LARGO, Fla. -- The supermarket industry is increasing its use of the World Wide Web and frequent-shopper programs to decide how best to spend promotional dollars and win a larger share of consumers' food dollars.
These were among the results of the 19th annual survey of promotional practices, conducted by Cox Direct here. Thirty-five grocery retailers with annual sales from less than $100 million to more than $1 billion participated in the survey. In addition, 761 consumers nationwide were surveyed.
In the area of grocery chain marketing, 24% use the Internet and World Wide Web. Another 14% intend to create a web page for marketing strategies within 12 months and 38% are investigating on-line marketing options.
While only 24% of retailers offer a web page, the survey reported that 63% of manufacturers have an on-line presence.
In addition to using the Internet, 54% of retailer respondents are currently offering frequent-shopper programs, and 21% plan to launch programs this year.
Frequent-shopper programs evidently are gaining more consumer attention as well: 62% of consumers are aware of available customer-loyalty programs, an increase from 56% in 1995.
Of customers aware of them, 67% are currently members of loyalty programs. The study reported that 45% have one membership, 15% belong to two programs and 7% are members of three or more frequent-shopper clubs.
Of the consumer participants, 34% find the ability to receive electronic coupons for groceries via the Internet a benefit. The same percentage of consumers are aware that home-shopping services accessed via personal computer, telephone or fax are available to them. The survey also showed that 33% of these consumers are interested in using such a service.
According to the survey, growing Internet use by retailers, manufacturers and even consumers reveals that this medium could be an effective way for the supermarket industry to enhance its marketing strategies.
Results also indicate that supermarket retailers are in a stronger position to target specific electronic-marketing initiatives directly to their loyal customers.
In addition to targeting customers via frequent-shopper programs and web sites, the survey reported that 76% of retailer participants are interested in pursuing interactive electronic media delivery methods.
Interactive kiosks attracted 84% of the interested retailers. Home shopping via PC is being evaluated by 83% of retailers, while 76% are exploring telephone and fax home-shopping services.
The survey, originally released in May, recently was made widely available to the supermarket industry.