With the growing penetration of smartphones, mobile phone applications are quickly becoming the go-to source for countless daily tasks, including finding grocery deals, according toThe NPD Group (http://www.npd.com/), a leading market research company. NPD food market research also finds that tech-savvy consumers are using the Internet and social media to hunt down recipes, shop for food, and connect with their favorite food brands.    

NPD’s National Eating Trends®, which continually tracks all aspects of eating behaviors in the U.S., finds coupon apps are used by about 25 million Americans each month, and this happens most frequently in households with children. The foods these app couponing families consume more often skew towards kid friendly staples like eggs, cold cereal, bacon, sausages, macaroni and cheese, soup, and fruit juice.

More than half of U.S. consumers are aware of Groupon, the localized deal-of-the-day website, and about one in five consumers receives emails regularly from the service, according to National Eating Trends®. Roughly the same proportion claims to read through the emails at least monthly - equating to more than 60 million U.S. consumers.

Social media and the Web are also assisting name brand food manufacturers garner more loyalty with consumers. In its report, The Evolution of Private Label - Does Brand Name Really Matter?, NPD found that consumers who frequently use social media and apps on their smartphones claim to be more loyal to brand-name items versus private label. Social media interaction seems to be helping marketers develop relationships with consumers, since they are increasingly opting for the name brands, rather than generic items at lower prices.

Food shopping online is not yet a mainstream behavior, according to NPD, but about 7% of consumers say they go to Amazon.com at least every two or three months to look for food or beverage products that they may be interested in purchasing. While that number might sound low, it is well above other sites, such as Alice.com and Peapod.com.  

“Food marketers have a huge opportunity to connect directly with tech-savvy consumers like never before,” says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage analyst. “With a click of the finger on a smartphone app or mouse, consumers are responding to marketing communications whether they’re downloading coupons and recipes or being loyal to a name brand.”