Trader Joe’s is Consumers’ Favorite Grocery Store for Third Straight Year, According to New Market Force Information Study

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ALDI is again value leader and ShopRite has best promotions

grocery supermarket retail research trader joe's publix ALDI Hy-vee H-E-B

Graph 1: Ranking of Favorite Grocery Store Chains

Our research revealed one in eight shoppers was disappointed with the most recent visit to their primary grocer, leaving ample room for improvement

Trader Joe’s continues to build a loyal following with its diverse grocery selection and exceptionally friendly service. A study of more than 7,200 consumers by Market Force Information, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions, found that Trader Joe’s is America’s favorite grocery retailer for the third year in a row. Publix ranked a close second and ALDI was third.

The study was designed to uncover consumers’ grocery-shopping habits, including the brands they prefer, why they prefer one to another, how they engage with various grocery retailers and their social media use.

Trader Joe’s the Crowd Favorite
For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent grocery shopping experience and their likelihood to refer that grocer to others. The results were averaged to rank each brand on a Composite Loyalty Index.

Trader Joe’s took the No. 1 spot out of the 14 grocery chains studied, with a score of 78%, and was closely followed by Publix with 74%. ALDI, Hy-Vee and H-E-B rounded out the top five. [See Graph 1]. This is the third straight year that Trader Joe’s and Publix led the rankings. Brands such as WinCo Foods, Albertsons and Sam’s Club made this year’s list, after failing to garner enough mentions in 2014.

With its neighborhood feel, zealous customer service, and an array of exotic and affordable food items, such as Speculoos Cookie Butter and Mandarin Orange Chicken, Trader Joe’s has built a following of devoted customers. The Greater Los Angeles-based chain has outlined an aggressive growth plan that calls for opening more than two-dozen stores in the next year.

ALDI Wins on Value, Publix on Merchandise Selection
Market Force looked at the operational and service attributes that set leading grocery brands apart, and found Publix and Trader Joe’s led in many key areas, including cashier courtesy, speedy checkouts and cleanliness. ALDI, WinCo Foods and Costco led in the value category, while ShopRite was rated highest for sales and promotions. H-E-B, Hy-Vee and Kroger also performed well in most areas. [See Graph 2].

“In the fiercely competitive grocery industry, customer satisfaction is the one measure that can tell you if you’re delivering on your brand promise or falling short,” said Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer for Market Force. “Our research revealed that one in eight shoppers was disappointed with their most recent visit to their primary grocer, leaving ample room for improvement. This is especially impactful when you consider that delighted customers are 2.4 times more likely to recommend their grocer to others.”

High Importance Placed on Organic and Local Items
As consumers adopt more healthy eating habits, organic and locally sourced products grow in importance. The study found that 48% prefer to buy organic products, when given a choice. Produce is by far the most popular organic item – 90% said they had purchased it in the previous 30 days. Meat wasn’t far behind with 55%, dairy was a close third with 54%, and packaged canned (soups, sauces, etc.) and dry products (cereal, pasta, etc.) were each cited by 29% to tie for fourth. On the flip side, only 6% of shoppers reported purchasing organic baby products.

Prepared Foods Heating Up
Prepared entrees and sides are gaining steam among time-crunched shoppers who are finding more quality options to choose from, and embracing ready-to-go and ready-to-cook meals as convenient alternatives to dining out. In fact, 28% said they have purchased prepared meals from a grocer at least weekly in the past month, a 10% increase from 2014’s findings. [See Graphs 3A and 3B]. Ready-to-eat entrees are the most commonly purchased, followed by ready-to-eat sides, ready-to-cook entrees and ready-to-cook sides.

What’s Trending in Tech – Mobile Apps and Click-and-Collect
Mobile app adoption in the space continues to gain traction. Thirty-nine percent of shoppers have used a grocery app, primarily to obtain coupons and scan barcodes, and seldom to build lists or research nutritional facts. Of those, 23% are using the app provided by their primary grocer. However, shoppers are beginning to adopt apps that compare grocers, such as Checkout 51 and Saving Star. The transparency in pricing and product availability made available through these apps will continue to blur competitive lines between grocers.

The click-and-collect model, which involves ordering online and picking up curbside, appears to be building a loyal and satisfied following. Only 5% have used click-and-collect, but 75% of those said they were highly satisfied with the experience and more than half are repeat users. [See Graph 4].

Long Live the Circular
Meanwhile, one old standby – the printed circular – is as popular as ever. Nearly half of consumers are reviewing them once a week, and 16% are reviewing them three to four times a week. They’re also influencing where and how consumers shop. Eighty percent said they plan their shopping trips based on what is in the circulars, 67% clip coupons from them and 63% use them to compare prices between grocers. [See Graph 5].

Survey Demographics
The survey was conducted online in April 2015 across the United States. The pool of 7,203 participants represented a cross-section of the four U.S. census regions and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 51% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 68% were women and 32% were men.

About Market Force Information
Market Force is the leading global customer intelligence solutions company for multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies. Market Force has pioneered the industry with a suite of customer intelligence solutions that enable multi-location business to manage operational excellence and customer loyalty. Proprietary decision-support tools comprise a platform of data collection techniques including mystery shopping, customer surveys and contact center; analytics algorithms for predicting growth in loyalty and financial metrics; and a technology platform for integrating multiple data streams. Market Force solutions enable brands to identify the actions required at the store level to increase customer loyalty and improve financial performance. For more information, visit http://www.marketforce.com.

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