Discount grocer Aldi is the low-price grocery leader, according to a new consumer study by Market Force Information, the world’s leading customer intelligence solutions company. The study was designed to uncover why consumers choose one grocer over another and what the customer experience is like for grocery shoppers, among other insights.
The survey asked consumers to indicate which retailer captured most of their grocery dollars. Ten grocers topped the list, including Aldi, Costco, Giant Foods, H-E-B, Kroger, Meijer, Publix, Safeway, ShopRite and Walmart. The survey then asked consumers to rank those 10 top grocery retailers on a number of attributes such as low pricing, cleanliness, service, food quality, location and checkout process. Results showed that consumers view Aldi as the affordable price leader, ranking it ahead of the other nine grocery chains. On an index scale with the average score set at 100, Aldi received 157, followed by Walmart with 129. Costco ranked third in the low-price category with an index score of 120. But, as evidenced by the relatively close scores, consumers are not seeing the differentiation on price as clearly as the price leaders would hope.
Walmart ranked highest among respondents in offering a one-stop retailer for all their needs, although the chain significantly underscored the mean in providing high-quality meat produce, organic products and courteous staff. Publix scored highest in offering an inviting atmosphere and environment-friendly policies.
Market Force’s study also revealed that location is the main reason consumers shop where they do, but it wasn’t the only driving factor. Sixty-seven percent of consumers indicated that their grocer choice is primarily driven by convenient location. Second on the list was price (57 percent), followed by good sales and promotions (52 percent).
The availability of good private-label products was surprisingly high on the list (38 percent), revealing a growing opportunity for stores to differentiate. Trends also emerged around the food itself, with high-quality produce more important to shoppers than high-quality meat. A mere five percent were shown to prefer their primary grocer for sustainable environment and green policies.
The good news for grocers is that the study showed the vast majority of consumers are satisfied with their grocery experience. When asked to think about their most recent grocery-shopping trip at their primary retailer, consumers were overall pleased, with 90 percent indicating they were somewhat or very satisfied. Conversely, only 10 percent of consumers said they were dissatisfied. “Customer delight – not just satisfaction – drives a two-fold difference in recommendation ratings. When consumers are delighted with a grocery retailer, they are nearly guaranteed to recommend that grocery store to friends and family,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “Being simply satisfied means that consumers are far less likely to recommend. By creating experiences that delight consumers, grocery retailers can create brand advocates that will recommend their stores.”
The survey was conducted across the United States and Canada. The pool of 6,100 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with approximately 70 percent reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 25 to 64 years old. Approximately three-quarters of respondents were women – the primary household consumer purchasers – and an equal percentage work full or part time. Half of the respondents have children at home and two-thirds are married.