Retail Feedback Group Study Finds Store Associates Are the Trump Card in Nurturing Supermarket Loyalty

Core Experience Factors Measure Channel Strengths and Weaknesses; Social Media Opportunity Gap Remains

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y.--()--The Retail Feedback Group (RFG), a leader in providing actionable stakeholder feedback, today released the 2015 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study. The research, now in its eighth year, found that supermarkets continue to generate high satisfaction among their shoppers, scoring an average of 4.44 on a five-point scale, where five is highest.

Store Associates Hold Key to High Trip Satisfaction
Shoppers who felt like a welcome guest (4.70), believed that store employees had food expertise (4.66), or encountered exceptional service (4.66) handed out the highest overall trip satisfaction scores. All three show the significant impact that store associates can have on shopper satisfaction.

Core Experience Factor Satisfaction in the Supermarket Channel
Additionally, several retailing fundamentals can greatly impact the overall trip experience and store satisfaction. Supermarkets performed well in some of these areas yet show room for improvement in others.

  • Quality/Cleanliness: Supermarket shoppers rated quality/freshness of the food and groceries (4.47) followed by cleanliness of the store (4.44) as the two highest-rated core experience factors.
  • Service: While shoppers gave high marks to the friendliness and attitude of the store personnel (4.43) and the speed and efficiency of checkout (4.41), helpfulness and knowledge of personnel (4.35) realized a lower rating and availability of personnel to provide assistance if needed (4.26) received the lowest rating across all core experience factors.
  • Value: The value for the money spent on this visit received the second lowest rating at 4.27.
  • Variety: A mid-tier core experience factor was variety and selection of products, at 4.38.

Doug Madenberg, RFG Principal noted, “Our findings show that two of the three lowest-rated areas among the core experience factors are people-related – helpfulness and knowledge of personnel and the availability of personnel to provide assistance. It is important to strengthen these areas, especially considering how store associates can positively influence overall satisfaction.”

Dirty Stores and Discourteous Employees Irritate Shoppers
Nothing detracts from a good experience at the supermarket more than unsanitary conditions, according to 69 percent of shoppers who say a dirty store really gets on their nerves. Two-thirds are highly irritated by unsanitary carts and baskets. At 64 percent, discourteous employees follow in third place. Second-tier irritants are inaccurate price scans (44 percent) and an unpleasant odor in the seafood department (44 percent).

Millennials Embrace Technology in Interaction with Supermarket
Considering all the ways in which consumers might interact with their primary supermarket using digital technology, at most half actually do so. The most common way is to check the digital circular (43 percent), followed by building online grocery lists (36 percent) and researching special online promotions (34 percent). Online services such as ordering groceries, reading blogs and getting nutritional advice receive little uptake across the entire population, but are distinctly more popular among Millennials, as are building digital grocery lists and researching special online promotions.

Social Media Usage Among Supermarket Shoppers Grows Yet Opportunity Gap Remains
Supermarket shoppers continue to be highly engaged with social media. While the total share using one or more social media vehicles with at least some regularity remained flat at 83 percent, shoppers increased their usage across vehicles over the past year: from an average of 2.9 different platforms in 2014 to 3.3 in 2015.

Up from 26 percent in 2014, 31 percent of supermarket shoppers are connected to their primary store on one or more social media platforms. Compared with the 83 percent who use social media, this still represents an opportunity gap of 52 percent. While down from 59 percent last year, working on closing the gap continues to be important for food retailers in the face of ever-growing competition and diminishing store and brand loyalty.

Further, the influence of grocery shoppers' social media circle on food-related choices is growing — particularly the willingness to try new restaurants based on social media recommendations that jumped from 34 percent in 2013 to 51 percent this year (percent "very willing") or to make a recipe or meal not cooked before (50 percent, up from 40 percent in 2013).

Brian Numainville, RFG Principal, commented, “Shoppers are changing the ways in which they interact with the supermarket pre-trip to increasingly include technology and social media. This is especially true for the Millennial shopper. As this Millennial shopper base grows in numbers; older generations become more comfortable with technology; and retailers improve and amplify their digital offerings, the adoption speed of using technology and social media when interacting with supermarkets will only accelerate.”

Satisfaction with Online Shopping Models Varies
Survey respondents who had shopped for groceries online reported varying levels of satisfaction, all of which were lower than satisfaction with the in-store visit. The average satisfaction for online ordering from general/specialty food websites (4.38) fell only slightly below overall in-store supermarket shopping satisfaction (4.44). Pure-play online shopping ended up somewhat lower (4.30). Traditional grocers offering delivery (4.15) or in-store pickup (4.14) had much lower average satisfaction.

Shoppers Use of Money-Saving Measures Declines
As the economy is recovering, some shoppers are starting to abandon money-saving practices — both measured in the share of shoppers using some form of money saving measure and the number of ways in which people look to save money. However, overall, money saving measures remain prevalent, used by 76 percent of shoppers. The top money-saving behavior, employed by 70 percent of shoppers, is reviewing the traditional paper circular at home or in the store. An additional 16 percent review the circular electronically. Clipping paper coupons (obtained from newspapers or other printed sources) is the second most popular money-saving measure at 25 percent, down from 32 percent. Additionally, 14 percent downloaded digital coupons. The use of special (unadvertised) sales promotions offered in the store continue to drop from 28 percent in 2013 to 17 percent last year and 14 percent in 2015.

A summary of study highlights is available at www.retailfeedback.com. Grocery retailers and media outlets can obtain a free copy of the full report or request an interview/presentation of the results from the principals of Retail Feedback Group at report@retailfeedback.com. The study is based on a nationally representative study of 1,200 supermarket shoppers and was prepared in conjunction with 210 Analytics, LLC.

About The Retail Feedback Group
The Retail Feedback Group offers a broad spectrum of research, consumer insight and consulting services. Its flagship program, Constant Customer Feedback (CCF), is the first automated feedback platform specifically designed and introduced for supermarket retailers, and is currently implemented in hundreds of locations across the United States. Other key RFG services include employee engagement and culture assessments, customer satisfaction surveys, consumer research and market analysis. For more information visit www.retailfeedback.com, follow on Twitter @retailfeedback, and read Retail Feedback Today magazine on Flipboard.

Contacts

The Retail Feedback Group
Brian Numainville, Principal, 516-829-4200 ext. 115

Release Summary

Retail Feedback Group Study Finds Store Associates Are the Trump Card in Nurturing Supermarket Loyalty. Core Experience Factors Measure Channel Strengths/ Weaknesses.

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Contacts

The Retail Feedback Group
Brian Numainville, Principal, 516-829-4200 ext. 115