Study: How Shoppers View the In-Store Experience
By Brian Numainville / January 2018Insights
The Retail Feedback Group (RFG), a leader in providing actionable stakeholder feedback, recently released the U.S. Supermarket Experience Study, which includes insights from 1,200 shoppers nationwide. The research, now in its tenth year, found that while supermarkets receive the strongest marks in quality and variety, Aldi has a decided advantage in value for the money and a slight edge in the checkout experience. Further, Millennials gave lower ratings than older shoppers in every aspect of the supermarket visit.
Core Experience Factors
Supermarket shoppers rated quality/freshness of the food and groceries (4.45) and cleanliness of the store (4.40) as the two strongest core experience factors. Associate friendliness – the highest-rated service factor – received a more moderate rating of 4.34, followed by associate helpfulness/knowledge (4.24), checkout speed/efficiency (4.23) and associate availability (4.19).
While supermarkets score well on general variety & selection (4.38), a core experience factor, scores register lower when drilling down further to natural & organic items (4.05), ethnic/international products (3.97), allergen-free items (3.97) and locally-sourced items (3.96).
Receiving the lowest score among all core experience factors, value for the money spent on this visit registered at 4.18. Again, drilling down deeper, the results show meat prices (3.98), produce prices (4.03) and everyday prices (4.03) all generated low scores in the supermarket channel, while advertised sales items scored much higher (4.38). Note that 76 percent of shoppers refer to one or more advertising/sales vehicles – traditional, social, mobile and digital – before or during the visit.
Aldi Making Inroads While Walmart Scores Lowest
Shoppers who visited an Aldi in the last 60 days are more likely to recommend the store (4.54 on a five-point scale) than supermarket shoppers, who give an average rating of (3.66). Further, 33 percent of those who shopped at Aldi say they plan to shop there more than now in the next 12 months versus 21 percent for supermarket shoppers and just 10 percent for Walmart. In core experience ratings, Aldi shoppers give value for money the highest marks (4.68), and also score Aldi higher than supermarkets on checkout speed (4.30). Walmart shoppers give lower scores on the all the core experience factors.
Millennials Give Supermarkets Low Marks on All Core Experience Factors
Millennials scored supermarkets the lowest on all core experience factors, as well as overall trip satisfaction. Boomers, on the other hand, rated overall trip experience and nearly all core experience factors highest (and only one area – staff knowledge/helpfulness—was rated equal by both Boomers and Gen X).
Meal Kit Usage and Experience
Just 14 percent of all supermarket shoppers in the study tried a meal kit delivery service in the last year, but Millennials showed stronger trial versus Gen X or Boomers. Blue Apron, Home Chef and Hello Fresh were the three services used most.
Top reasons for meal kit usage were home delivery (46 percent) and to save time (45 percent). Of those who did not use a meal kit, the main reasons were that they were too expensive (48 percent) or there was no interest in meal kits (44 percent). Meal kit users were most satisfied with quality of ingredients (83 percent highly satisfied) and least impressed with value for the money spent (65 percent highly satisfied).
Supermarket Meal Kits
Overall, 15 percent of shoppers also indicated their primary supermarket has a meal kit offering. Of those who purchased a meal kit from their primary supermarket, the top reasons given were good value (54 percent), quality of ingredients (53 percent) and to save time (51 percent).
These survey findings point to a critical need for grocery retailers with a physical presence to step up their game. When people shop in a supermarket, the overall experience, assortment, and value proposition need to be excellent in order to earn their next visit. There are too many grocery options available online, in hard discount stores, and across other formats, for an average or sub-par supermarket visit to be acceptable.
Further, the fact that overall trip satisfaction and all of the core experience factors register lowest among Millennials should be a call to action for supermarkets. Traditional supermarkets must find ways to make the supermarket more appealing and relevant to younger shoppers or risk becoming endangered as Boomers age and purchase less.
Brian Numainville is a principal with the Retail Feedback Group. He can be reached at 516-829-4200 x115 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Supermarket retailers can receive a complimentary copy of the U.S. Supermarket Shopper Digital Update by requesting one at email@example.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.