Coles Spends $11 million More Than Woolies On Digital Advertising But Woolies Reigns Supreme

Coles Spends $11 million More Than Woolies On Digital Advertising But Woolies Reigns Supreme

The fight for supermarket supremacy between Woolworths and Coles has been ongoing for decades, but how does the Red vs Green battle actually stack up? 

New data from market intelligence company Sensor Tower and its digital ad spend tracking platform Pathmatics, has revealed that despite Coles spending almost $12 million more than Woolies in digital advertising over the past 3 years, Woolies consistently takes the top spot in terms of app downloads, cementing its victory as the Aussies’ most loved supermarket.

Analysing the data over the past three years, Sensor Tower and Pathmatics data has revealed:

App downloads:

  • The Woolies app received over 3.5 million downloads between 2019-2022 to date.
  • The Coles app received 2 million downloads during this period.
  • Woolies have had a total of 778,00 downloads in 2022 so far, compared to Coles who has had a total of 609,000 downloads in the same period.
  • January 2022 marked the busiest month of the year in terms of app downloads for Woolies with a total of 113,000 downloads.
  •  The busiest month for Coles was June 2022, with a total of 79,000 app downloads during this month.
  • February – April 2020 saw a significant spike in app downloads across both brands when the nation was in lockdown and Aussies had to get their groceries delivered

Digital ad spend:

  • Coles spent almost $55 million on digital advertising between 2019-2022 to date. During this period, Coles spent $2 million promoting garlic bread and parmesan cheese over a two week period which was one of their best-performing ads.
  • Woolies spent $43 million on digital advertising over the same three-year period. Woolies spent $740K in one day promoting a Covid safe message encouraging shoppers to shop via their app during this period. This was one of Woolies top performing ads.

Commentating on the trends, Tom Cui, Managing Director APAC at Sensor Tower said: “Which supermarket Bandcamp you fall into is a hotly debated topic in Australia and Sensor Tower data has revealed Woolies appears to reign supremacy, despite Coles’ significantly higher digital ad spend.

“Over the past three years, there have been significant shifts in the way consumers do their shopping, fast-tracking the movement to digital shopping and this trend looks to only continue. It’s never been more important for a retail outlet to have an optimised app experience, even when it comes to supermarkets, as Aussies have become accustomed to the ease and convenience.

“Now we face another challenge – the threat of a recession. Whilst supermarket shopping is deemed a ‘necessity’, even the major stores could face challenges as inflation rises and purse strings tighten. At Sensor Tower, we’ll be tracking both consumer and brand behaviour as Australia weather this ongoing economic turmoil.”

How the data is collected:

Sensor Tower’s data comes from the largest first-party mobile app panel worldwide, combined with robust data science modelling, from which they can derive highly accurate estimates of app performance.

The Sensor Tower platform utilises net revenue as its metric for measuring app earnings. App Store and Google Play revenue are net, as estimates reflect an app’s gross revenue minus app store royalty fees (typically 30 per cent). Sensor Tower’s revenue estimates include spending on paid apps, in-app purchases, and in-app subscriptions.

These estimates do not include revenue from advertising or any spending on real goods and services such as products purchased through Amazon or rides from Uber. Sensor Tower’s estimates reflect the decreased 15 per cent cut Apple and Google take from subscription apps after the first year of service.

Sensor Tower converts all revenue estimates from local currencies that apps receive from different countries to USD.

Key definitions:

  • The Download metric that is tracked in Sensor Tower’s platform is a unique download per Apple ID or Google Play account. That means they do not count:
    • Re-downloads (i.e., you install, then delete, then reinstall the same app),
    • App updates (i.e., all users are upgraded to version 2.1)
    • Subsequent downloads on new/additional devices for existing Apple ID or Google Play account (i.e., I buy a new iPhone 8 and “re-download” all apps that were previously on my iPhone 7; the same logic applies to purchasing a new tablet)



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