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Supermarket Satisfaction Remains High: RFG Study

While supermarkets continue to generate high satisfaction among shoppers, room for improvement exists in key areas, particularly associate availability, friendliness/attitude and checkout speed/efficiency, according to the Retail Feedback Group’s 2016 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study.

The annual research study, now in its ninth year, found that supermarkets scored an average of 4.39 on a five-point scale where five is highest. Supermarkets also scored high in the area of generating a strong referral rate, with an average likelihood to recommend score of 4.48.

Despite the generally high satisfaction and referral scores, which are obviously critical in today’s highly competitive environment, Doug Madenberg, principal of the Lake Success, N.Y.-based RFG, said: “Not one of the service attributes scored at the top of the core experience factors, yet it is imperative to find ways to strengthen customer service.”

Examining key supermarket retailing fundamentals of this year’s study – which was based on a nationally representative survey of 1,200 supermarket shoppers and was prepared in conjunction with 210 Analytics, LLC – illustrates that supermarkets performed well in some of these critical areas yet show room for improvement in others:

  • Quality/Cleanliness: Supermarket shoppers rated quality/freshness of the food and groceries (4.51) followed by cleanliness of the store (4.45) as the two highest-rated core experience factors.
  • Variety: Also a higher-scoring factor, item variety and selection registered at 4.43.
  • Service: Associate availability scored lowest among all the core experience factors (4.20). The other service factors – associate friendliness/attitude (4.36), associate helpfulness/knowledge (4.27), and checkout speed/efficiency (4.32) – only showed moderate ratings.
  • Associate availability scored lowest among all the core experience factors (4.20). The other service factors – associate friendliness/attitude (4.36), associate helpfulness/knowledge (4.27), and checkout speed/efficiency (4.32) – only showed moderate ratings

“Our research shows that when service receives high scores, the average trip satisfaction is significantly higher along with spending in the short-term and loyalty in the long-term,” Madenberg noted. As a result, “We can’t stress strongly enough the impact that store employees have on the shopping experience – whether it is fostering a pleasant interaction, providing service above and beyond expectations, or simply being available to help.”

Shopper Satisfaction Declines Throughout the Day

Considering overall satisfaction with the trip, as well as on all of the core experience factors, the research found that satisfaction declines as the day progresses. Highest scores registered before 11 a.m. with lowest scores found after 7 p.m. This finding illustrates an opportunity to evaluate channel readiness during peak evening shopping hours.

Item Availability Greatly Impacts Trip Satisfaction

If shoppers could not find all items they came in to purchase, their satisfaction was significantly lower (3.92) compared to those who did find all items (4.43). This finding is a recurring theme in supermarket experience research. In-stock position must consistently be high for retailers to ensure shopper satisfaction.

Value: Value for the money spent on this visit received the second lowest rating at 4.27. Drilling down deeper into prices, the results show meat (4.01), produce (4.06) and everyday prices (4.07) all generated low scores in the supermarket channel, while advertised sales items scored much higher (4.41).

Advertising Vehicles Straddle Traditional, Social, Mobile and Digital Media

Supermarket shoppers continue to use money-saving measures but the mix of these measures is evolving. Overall, 77 percent of shoppers referred to one or more advertising or sales vehicles before or during the store visit. The top money-saving measure, used by 56 percent of shoppers, was reviewing the traditional paper circular at home.

An additional 31 percent reviewed the circular in the store and 26 percent examined the circular digitally. Clipping paper coupons (obtained from newspapers or other printed sources) registered at 38 percent, while downloading digital coupons was at 27 percent and in-store promotions at 22 percent. Money-saving measures used less frequently were loyalty card offers (19 percent), smartphone research (12 percent) and social media specials (7 percent).

Millennials Migrating to Digital Faster

Examining the use of money-saving measures by generation, the research shows that Boomers reviewed the circular at home (64 percent) and clipped paper coupons (45 percent) at much higher rates than Millennials (46 percent and 31 percent, respectively). Millennials, on the other hand, utilized smartphone research (22 percent) and social media specials (13 percent) at higher percentages than Boomers (6 percent and 4 percent, respectively).

“As younger generations, specifically Millennials and Generation Z, continue to grow in their spending influence over the coming years, supermarket advertising will need to increasingly blend traditional vehicles with social, mobile and digital,” explained RFG principal Brian Numainville. “Retailers should carefully evaluate their markets and shopper base on an ongoing basis to ensure the right mix.”

Grocery retailers, food distributors and media outlets can obtain a free copy of the full report here.



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