BOULDER, CO – Trader Joe’s is North America’s favorite
grocery store based on customer satisfaction, according to a new study of 6,600
consumers conducted by Market Force Information. Publix Super Markets and Whole
Foods Market rounded out the top three. All three received high marks for
courteous staff, inviting atmosphere and high-quality produce. Hy-Vee also
scored well on those measures.
Market Force’s grocery retailer study was designed to
uncover where consumers prefer to grocery shop, as well as why they favor one
grocer to another.
When asked to rate their satisfaction with their most recent
grocery store experience and their likelihood to refer that grocer, consumers
scored Trader Joe’s above all others. Publix, Whole Foods, Wegmans and ALDI
also ranked high on the customer delight index, which reveals the intersection
between overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending a grocer to
Trader Joe’s operates nearly 400 stores and has experienced
steady growth in recent years. With a neighborhood-store feel, the national
chain is known for its customer-centric operations and a revolving inventory of
products that carry the Trader Joe’s brand name.
Market Force also looked at which grocery stores consumers
frequent the most, asking where they had spent the majority of their money in
the previous 30 days:
- Northeast – Stop & Shop (1% of the votes), Giant (6%), Wegmans and
Market Basket (5%)
- South – Kroger (16%), Publix (15%) and H-E-B
- Midwest – Kroger (11%), Meijer (9%) and Hy-Vee
- West – Safeway (12%, Kroger (9%) and Costco (7%)
- Canada – Loblaws (15%), Sobeys (11%), Costco and
Convenient location is the factor that consumers said they
like most about their preferred grocery store — in fact, it ranked higher than
prices, which was second on the list, while sales and promotions was third.
However, these characteristics aren’t necessarily helping grocery
chains earn more business. When Market Force drilled deeper to see how the
grocers fared in these areas, no one brand dominated the votes across these
important characteristics, suggesting that they’re table-stake attributes that
consumers have come to expect from their grocers. It was the operations-focused
attributes that seem to make a bigger difference.
Although none of the chains dominated in the five attributes
that consumers said they like most about their preferred grocer, some did shine
in individual areas.
Ralph’s ranked first in the important convenient location
category, ALDI and WinCo were the price leaders, Winn-Dixie scored the top spot
for sales and promotions, Meijer was recognized for its merchandise selection,
and Walmart and Target were neck and neck for one-stop shopping.
“With most consumers satisfied with their grocery-shopping
experiences, it makes for a very competitive playing field for grocers looking
to distinguish themselves from the masses,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief
marketing officer for Market Force. “We start to see the greatest opportunities
for differentiation in operations-related attributes such as fast check-outs,
gracious staff and atmosphere.”
Real competitive differentiation begins to emerge when
viewing operational excellence attributes. Both Trader Joe’s and Publix
performed well in this area, with Trader Joe’s ranking first for its atmosphere
and quick checkout process, and second in the other three categories. Publix
was tops among shoppers for its cleanliness and courteous staff, and second to
Trader Joe’s in atmosphere. Hy-Vee and H-E-B also fared consistently well in
When it comes to consumers’ perceptions of high-quality,
healthy product selection, Whole Foods dominated across the board. It was tops
among shoppers in every category studied — from high-quality meat and produce
to organic options and sustainable practices. It had an especially sizeable
lead in the produce category. Trader Joe’s also scored in the top three of most
of the attributes, as did Publix.
Although some shoppers are practicing extreme couponing,
that doesn’t seem to be a common trend. In fact, the research findings suggest
a steady decline in coupon use over the past three years. Of those who are
redeeming coupons, most are clipping them from a newspaper, magazine or other
print media. The second most popular source for coupons is the grocery store.
The survey was conducted in May 2013 across the United
States and Canada. The pool of 6,645 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of
income levels, with 60% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a
year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 19 to over 65. Approximately 73% were women
and 27% were men, and half have children at home.