New Study: How Do Shoppers Feel About Supermarkets?

February 20, 2019

Despite the growing online grocery industry, the vast majority of U.S. consumers prefer to shop in person.

A recent study from Vixxo, a facilities management company, found that 87% of U.S. shoppers would rather visit a grocery store than shop online. Even 81% of the digitally-savvy Millennial generation prefers in-store over online, Vixxo found.

But loyalty to 1 grocery store is rare—14% of consumers shop at 1 store and 45% shop at 3 or more stores in an average month.

How do shoppers rate their in-store experience? Consumer research and insight consulting firm The Retail Feedback Group recently released its U.S. Supermarket Experience 2019 study. This study examines shoppers’ trip satisfaction at the supermarket, Aldi and Walmart.

We will overview key findings from this report that relate to consumer shopping habits, what consumers like about supermarkets and where supermarkets have room to improve.

Shopping Habits

Are consumers considering changing how often they shop? And which advertising vehicles do they use?

Most supermarket customers (72%) plan to maintain the same number of shopping trips they make. Very few (6%) said they would reduce their shopping trips. This suggests that supermarket shoppers are content with their shopping trends.

By contrast, more than 4 in 10 Aldi shoppers plan to increase their shopping frequency (42%). Very few (7%) plan to cut down on their Aldi runs, showing that Aldi is more successfully attracting and retaining shoppers than grocery stores.

Exactly two-thirds of Walmart customers will continue making the same amount of shopping trips. Like supermarket and Aldi shoppers, very few (6%) of Walmart shoppers plan to reduce their trip frequency.

Regardless of where they shop, almost 3 in 4 shoppers (73%) refer to at least one advertising vehicle either before or during their shopping trips. Millennial Shoppers are most likely to use social media to find/use specials, most likely to use smartphones to find/use deals, most likely to use loyalty card offers and are most likely to use printed circulars at the store. Millennials and Gen X shoppers are equally likely to use digital coupons. Gen X Shoppers are the most likely to use digital circulars and are most likely to use/look for in-store promotions. Boomer Shoppers are most likely to use the printed circular at home and most likely to use clipped coupons.

Supermarkets: What Consumers Like

Overall, supermarket shoppers were more satisfied with their shopping trip experience than Aldi and Walmart shoppers. Supermarket shoppers rated their trip 4.31 (out of a possible 5) while Aldi shoppers rated their satisfaction level at 4.27. Walmart shoppers were the least satisfied with their shopping experience, rating it 3.93.

The U.S. Supermarket Experience Survey asked consumers to rate their experiences on several experience factors related to service, value, quality and variety. Shoppers ranked supermarkets highest in the most store experience factors over Aldi and Walmart, which include:

Quality/freshness

rated 4.44 out of 5

Variety/selection

rated 4.38 out of 5

Friendliness/attitude of staff

rated 4.32 out of 5

Staff knowledge/helpfulness

rated 4.24 out of 5

Staff availability

rated 4.17 out of 5

These rankings did not change much compared to the 2017 supermarket experience survey, which shows that supermarkets continue to excel at the above experience factors. This may be why most supermarket shoppers (72%) plan to maintain their shopping frequency.

Which departments did shoppers say they were “highly satisfied” with?

52% named Grocery

51% named Meat

50% named Produce

49% named  Deli

49% named Bakery

39% named Seafood

Supermarkets: Room for Improvement

While shoppers had plenty of positives about their experiences at the supermarket, they also ranked Aldi highly in select categories. Walmart was ranked the lowest in all factors.

Shoppers were most likely to recommend Aldi over supermarkets and Walmart. Aldi’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) is 44.7 while supermarkets are 40.7 and Walmart’s lags behind at 27.1. An NPS rating above 0 is considered good and above 50 is considered excellent.

Aldi trumped supermarkets and Walmart in 3 shopping experience factors:

Cleanliness

rated 4.43 out of 5

vs. supermarkets’ 4.42 rating

Checkout speed/efficiency

rated 4.29 out of 5

vs. supermarkets’ 4.28 rating

Value for money spent

rated 4.51 out of 5

vs. supermarkets’ 4.17 rating

Supermarket Opportunity: A little transparency could go a long way toward improving the store’s cleanliness and checkout speed reputations. Share the cleaning schedule with customers (post it on a door, put a blurb on your website, have a response ready should someone leave a bad review) and explain why the cleaning schedule is rigid (need to have enough staff manning the checkout or whatever the reasons may be).

No matter which store shoppers patronize, satisfaction with the shopping experience declines throughout the day. Satisfaction levels peak at supermarkets before 11 a.m. and peaks at Aldi and Walmart between 3-7 p.m.

Supermarket Opportunity: Evaluate what is happening at the supermarket later in the day. Is the store adequately staffed to accommodate the rush, both in terms of cashiers and store associates to assist shoppers? Does the store need cleaning and/or restocking later in the day? Find ways to improve the experience, fix them and then share your improvements with your customers.

Product availability affects shopping trip satisfaction. Significantly more shoppers (36% more) who found all items rated their trip satisfaction as highly satisfied. Of the shoppers who couldn’t find all the items they were looking for, just 14% were highly satisfied with their shopping experience. Almost 1 in 10 shoppers (9%) failed to find all they items they came in to purchase. Most of the items shoppers couldn’t find were either out of stock or the store didn’t carry them.

Supermarket Opportunity: Is there a way supermarkets can make it easy for shoppers to find which products they carry and whether or not those products are in stock? Make staff available as an in-store resource for customers looking for items and advertise this across relevant channels!

*Editor’s Note: The Retail Feedback Group provided Fisher with a copy of this report at Fisher’s request. Their U.S. Supermarket Experience 2019 report was released on January 29, 2019. The Retail Feedback Group surveyed 1,200 primary grocery shoppers for this study.

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