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Enterprise Marketing & Promotions Management

Core Experience Factors Provide Focus Areas for Supermarkets

By / November 2016


The Retail Feedback Group conducts an annual study entitled the Supermarket Experience Study that surveys 1,200 shoppers nationally to provide insights around industry performance.  Of particular interest are the results on key retailing fundamentals – what we call “Core Experience Factors” – that every supermarket can use in thinking about their own performance versus the national findings.

We all know that high trip satisfaction creates the foundation for repeat business.  And while 81 percent of shoppers expect to shop at their current store about the same as now twelve months out, a positive or negative experience could change their mind!

Quality & Cleanliness – Supermarket Stronghold

The top scoring store experience factors this year were quality and freshness of food and groceries (4.51 on a five-point scale where five is the highest), followed closely by store cleanliness (4.45).  When people think quality and cleanliness related to food, the supermarket channel clearly makes the grade.

Service, Service, Service = Big Opportunity!

The lowest scoring store experience factor was associate availability (4.20), with associate helpfulness/knowledge (4.27), checkout speed/efficiency (4.32) and associate friendliness/attitude (4.36) just somewhat higher.  What is important to recognize is that doing well at customer service can dramatically increase average trip satisfaction.  For instance, let’s consider the lowest scoring item on the survey, associate availability.  For shoppers who rated this item a “4” or “5” on the survey, the overall trip satisfaction rating registered 4.55 versus those who rated it “1,2 or 3” providing an average trip satisfaction rating of 3.65.  The same pattern holds true on all other service-related factors.  So, improving industry scores in these core experience factors is vital to increased channel satisfaction.

Value and Price Not So Good

Another one of the lowest rated core experience factors for supermarkets was value for money spent (4.27).  When drilling down deeper into price ratings, advertised sales items scored 4.41 while everyday prices (4.07), produce prices (4.06) and meat prices (4.01) registered much less favorably.  Given the challenge of value and price image for supermarkets, it is critical to implement a variety of advertising vehicles that straddle traditional, social, mobile and digital.  Our study results illustrate that 77 percent of shoppers refer to one or more advertising vehicle before or during a shopping visit.  While baby boomers still use the circular at home and clip coupons in higher percentages than millennials, on the other hand, millennials use their smartphones to conduct research and use social media specials in higher frequencies than boomers.

Overall Variety Scores Solid but Opportunity Exists

Item variety and selection received an average score of 4.43 in this study and it was the third-highest rated item.  Examining in this more depth, while generating a good overall score on variety, supermarkets don’t do as well in variety in areas like natural/organic (4.09), allergen-free (4.01), ethnic/locally sourced items (4.00) and non-GMO (3.93).

Now it’s your turn.  Take a look at your stores in the core experience factors.  Are your stores above or below these national numbers?  If so, develop a plan to address your weak points and celebrate your strengths!

Brian Numainville is a principal with the Retail Feedback Group.  He can be reached at 516-829-4200 x115 or via email: bn@retailfeedback.com. Supermarket retailers can receive a complimentary copy of the entire report by requesting one at report@retailfeedback.com.

Contributed by Brian Numainville, PRC –  Principal, Retail Feedback Group. Brian joined Retail Feedback Group (RFG) in 2012 after more than 18 years with Nash Finch Company where he led market research, public relations and its charitable foundation. In his role at RFG, Brian partners with food retailers and wholesalers across the U.S. on a wide range of research and feedback initiatives to help them foster a listening culture. He is the co-author of Feedback Rules!, as well as a frequent speaker and commentator online, and at events for organizations such as the National Grocers Association (NGA), the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), and the Minnesota Grocers Association (MGA). Brian also spent many years as chair of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Consumer Market Research Committee and as a member of the Program Leadership Board at the University of Minnesota Food Industry Center.


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