Three-quarters (74%) of UK consumers use the Internet for household grocery shopping activity, according to a study released by consumer insight specialist Nielsen.

The 2012 Nielsen Global Survey of Digital’s Influence on Grocery Shopping surveyed more than 28,000 Internet consumers in 56 countries. In the UK, it reveals that saving money is a major factor why consumers go online for grocery shopping – almost half (48%) look for deals, 30% go to coupon websites and 25% compare prices. Among those looking for grocery coupons, more than a quarter (26%) do so on a daily basis.

Britons are more likely to use the Internet for saving money on groceries than Europeans as a whole; 43% of Europeans look for deals online, while 22% look for coupons.

More than a quarter (27%) of online Britons intend to buy food and drink products online in the coming months – making groceries the third most popular category in the UK behind travel bookings (30%) and books, newspapers and magazines (28%). Two years ago, groceries were the seventh most popular category. Even today across Europe, groceries are still only the 12th most popular category.

Almost half (47%) of Britons online use the Internet for grocery research, such as checking a price or reading a consumer review. Among this group, one in five (21%) does this every day. 

Nielsen UK head of retailer insight Mike Watkins said: "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 eight per cent 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 buy or research grocery shopping online say the Internet now accounts for at least one-quarter of their total online and offline grocery activity time; 27 percent say online now accounts for at least half their total grocery activity time.

Over the past year, the rise in food prices has been the biggest factor determining what grocery brands and products Britons have purchased. This is followed by increased transportation costs (27 per cent), health reasons and retailer loyalty programmes (both 21 per cent). The availability of self-service checkouts has had a major impact on the grocery choices of 18 per cent of Britons online.

"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," said Watkins. "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."