5 Common Grocery Store Advertising Mistakes [Plus Solutions]

Is your grocery store’s outdated branding in need of a glow up?

If so, you’re probably looking for advertising strategies that will draw ideal customers into your store. You’re smart. But there’s so much information out there, and you might end up making avoidable advertising mistakes.

Grocery store marketing isn’t easy. Imagine spending thousands of dollars getting generic flyers designed, printing them, and hiring someone to distribute them in your local community. You’re ready for an influx of customers. Instead, you get crickets.

There is another way!

This article highlights the common grocery store advertising mistakes other owners make. We also offer solutions to save you the heartache of time and money wasted, and help you attract the customers you really want.

Small Grocery Store Advertising: Why You Need It

It doesn’t matter how amazing your products are, how clean your store is, or how great your customer service is. If you don’t advertise, how will you attract your ideal customers?

We get it — advertising isn’t high on your list of priorities. And perhaps you think it will be expensive or overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! 

Effective advertising ensures the right people know about your unique offerings and local vibe. It highlights your products and specialties, and invites customers to try them. Without advertising, it’s difficult to get that across, and even harder to draw customers in.

Related Read: 8 Practical Marketing Ideas for Small Grocery Stores

It doesn’t require a huge budget or marketing staff to advertise successfully. If you can avoid the following mistakes, you’ll be well on your way. Let’s get into the first mistake.

Common Mistake #1: Not Defining the Target Audience

Now that you’re eager to advertise your business, you’ll likely make this first mistake. When you don’t define your target audience, you’ll try to talk to everyone and end up talking to no one.

Flyers with generic offers like “Crazy low prices at Dona’s Market” or “Fresh deals for all at The Local Mart” are too broad. They add to the hundreds of marketing messages your customers see all day. They offer no real value or relevance.


The trick is to hone in on a target audience that will appreciate your grocery store’s unique strengths and offers. Ask yourself:

  • Who needs what our grocery store provides?
  • Who in our community would be thrilled to shop here?
  • What underserved segment would love our offerings?

Say you own an organic food store, and you’ve noticed that parents at your childrens’ school don’t have time to shop but wish there were more natural grocery stores in the area. 

They are your audience! You could advertise online ordering, BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store), and curbside pickup. Use visuals of smiling mothers gratefully grabbing groceries to bring home to their kids.

Related Read: What Is BOPIS? (+ How To Offer It for Your Grocery Store)

Pro Tip: Your point of sale (POS) system contains a goldmine of customer data you can use. From metrics like top-selling products to average basket size to payment preferences, you can use analytics to inform advertising. For example, if Sundays are your highest day for sales, advertise Sunday Specials.

Common Mistake #2: Ignoring Digital Platforms

Was social media a big platform when you first opened your grocery store? Maybe not. But it is now. 

You can’t just rely on advertising in the local paper or word of mouth anymore. Even if your loyal regulars rave about your products to each other — it’s not enough. You need them to rave about them on social media, too.

If potential customers search “best grocery store near me,” and you don’t pop up? You’re missing a trick. Or if you have no social media presence, customers might wonder if your store is outdated. You have to meet shoppers where they are.

Related Read: 5 Grocery Store Digital Marketing Ideas To Try in 2024


Start with a few simple best practices:

  • Build a basic website using drag-and-drop platforms like Wix to showcase your products, story, and hours. Help customers discover your store.
  • Post social content like sales items, new inventory, seasonal recipes, behind-the-scenes store views, and staff spotlights to help customers connect to your store.
  • Send engaging emails with promotions, coupons, and store announcements. Offer exclusive digital offers to loyalty program members.

These are the foundations of your advertising campaigns. Keep an eye on which platforms get the most engagement and double your efforts there.

Pro Tip: The best grocery store POS systems help create email campaigns, sync inventory so your website displays real-time availability, and manage your loyalty program. IT Retail partners with e-commerce platforms to solve your online grocery needs.

Common Mistake #3: Overlooking In-Store Advertising Opportunities

Although digital platforms are essential to modern advertising, don’t neglect in-store opportunities. Where else do customers spend nearly an hour navigating aisles filled with impulse buys?

Related Read: How To Create a Floor Plan for Grocery Stores To Maximize Profits

Outdated vendor posters by the entrance aren’t enough. Flyers by the register are an afterthought. Meanwhile, you have unused space all over your store.


Even with limited space, staff, and time, you can create in-store advertising ideas to encourage customers to buy. Try these tactics:

  • Place impulse buys like chips and soda near the checkout for last-minute grabs. You can rotate the selection based on promotions.
  • Display monthly promotion posters near entrances and bakery and deli counters. Update specials monthly.
  • Train cashiers to highlight sale items and complementary purchases while chatting to customers during checkout.
  • Add sidewalk A-frames advertising seasonal finds, limited batch inventory, or community sponsorships.

These are just a few ideas — get creative and make the most of your budget.

Pro Tip: Your POS system can create custom labels for quick discounts and specialty goods that you’re thinking of promoting. For example, use a deli scale and printer to offer end-of-day discounts on meat that’s close to its expiration date.

Common Mistake #4: Disregarding Data and Analytics

Changing up your sales based on gut instinct alone is a fast way to fail. Your point of sale is a goldmine of data, and not relying on it to fuel advertising campaigns is an all too common mistake.

Without sales reports, you don’t know which top-selling products to feature more prominently. You can’t identify high-margin impulse buys to upsell to customers. And you won’t have customer analytics to show you what your customers prefer.


Use sales data to reveal:

  • Your top product categories and SKUs to promote
  • Weekly and year-over-year trends to capitalize on
  • Basket sizes over time to set advertising revenue goals

Apply customer data to uncover:

  • Demographic and psychographic customer profiles to tailor messaging
  • Products specific customers often buy to nurture loyalty program members
  • Customer lifetime values that signal when advertising pays off

Pro Tip: This might sound complicated, but a modern, grocery-specific POS system crunches numbers for you. Turn data into actionable insights.

Related Read: 6 Ways To Use Grocery Store Data Analytics

Common Mistake #5: Neglecting Community Engagement

In an ideal world, your store is the number one grocery store in your community. But many stores end up being just another grocery store, because they don’t stand out. There are opportunities for community sponsorship, partnerships, and outreach.


Look for opportunities to make a difference in your community. You could sponsor the annual food drive, little league team, or car show to put your brand front and center when people in your community congregate.

Perhaps you have plans to turn your store into a grocerant. If that’s the case, you could give community groups like book clubs or gardening meetups a dedicated informal gathering space in your cafe.

You could even partner with a local influencer! Do you have health-focused moms with online followings in your community? They can help promote your fresh, healthy produce. 

TikTok is a potential game-changer. If someone in your local community is a TikTok celebrity, they could help drive younger customers to your grocery store. The hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit has 31.8 billion lifetime views.

Pro Tip: Your POS system collects customer data like email addresses. Send surveys to customers, asking what they care about when it comes to their local community. Ask how you can help — whether it be sponsoring local sports teams or donating to food banks. Showing you care is essential.

Overcome Grocery Store Advertising Mistakes With Your Grocery POS

You’re devoted to your grocery store. Not shouting about it is a crime! But making these all too common advertising mistakes isn’t the right way to go about it, either.

Flying blind without data won’t do. Neglecting digital channels where modern shoppers engage is a mistake. The good news? Modern, grocery-specific POS systems make advertising easier. You can turn POS data into actionable insights.

Built-in loyalty programs do the heavy lifting to manage and reward loyal customers. Dedicated webstores help manage BOPIS and curbside delivery. Sales reports inform promotions. And so much more!

IT Retail is dedicated to helping grocery store owners win. Your next point of sale system should be specifically designed for grocery and specialty food retailers and help you avoid grocery store advertising mistakes.

Schedule a demo with our grocery experts to see our POS system in action.