Consumers See Fresh & Easy as 'Supplement' to Current Grocers: Study

Many shoppers like the convenience and pricing at the Tesco format, but consider it a complement to their regular grocery shop, not a replacement, says Nielsen Online's BuzzMetrics.

Tesco's Fresh & Easy has not yet proved to be a game-changing addition to the U.S. grocery landscape, according to the consumer buzz surrounding the Fresh & Easy stores already up and running, according to Nielsen Online's BuzzMetrics.

"It will be interesting to follow Tesco's continued expansion in the competitive U.S. market - especially during challenging economic times," said Jessica Hogue, research director, Nielsen Online. "While initial interest and discussion has been strong as Fresh & Easy expands to reach underserved markets and busy consumers, time will tell if the offering builds loyalty or affects the competitive landscape."

Buzz levels for Fresh & Easy peaked in November 2008, up 96 percent from the preceding months, when the retailer opened more than 10 locations across California and Nevada. Several more stores opened in December, all garnering healthy buzz activity. Conversation drivers within this content included competitors, shopped items, and discussion around price, product freshness and convenience.

Other Fresh & Easy-related buzz included:
- Fifty-nine percent of sentiment toward Fresh & Easy was positive, and consumers express a willingness to add Fresh & Easy to their shopping rotation to stock up on meat, inexpensive organics, and other convenience-oriented products that my otherwise prove cost prohibitive in the current economic climate.
-Thirty percent expressed negative or mixed sentiment toward Fresh & Easy. These consumers typically compared Fresh & Easy to the product assortment and prices of Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Wal-Mart.
- Consumer buzz particularly focused on the subject of shopped items, including meat (27 percent), prepared foods (17 percent), dairy (16 percent), and fruits and vegetables (16 percent). Consumers cited affordable specialty items like hormone-free meat, cage-free eggs, preservative-free bread, and fresh-squeezed juice as well as inexpensive organics. Many shoppers, particularly commuters and young professionals, enjoyed the convenience of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook meals. 
- Fresh & Easy parent Tesco, led in buzz compared to competitors Whole Foods and Trader Joe's - most likely driven by discussion around Fresh & Easy -- with buzz volume 60 percent and 52 percent higher respectively.
The Nielsen BuzzMetrics service measures online consumer-generated media and word of mouth.
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