QUINCY, Mass. — By responding to an online survey, shoppers of Stop & Shop here and sister Ahold USA company Giant Food, Landover, Md., helped the chains select “New Smarter Package” as the name of their recently introduced ground beef packaging, said Andrea Astrachan, vice president of consumer affairs for both chains.
Customers who belong to both chains' “Grocery Advisory Board” (GAB) — approximately 12,000 shoppers — were asked in an online survey for feedback on names for the packaging change. The survey was one of about 20 that participating GAB shoppers have answered since the program was launched a year ago.
In the ground beef packaging survey, “we gave them a variety of names and asked them what they conveyed, their preference and why,” said Astrachan. “We were able to obtain quantitative and some qualitative information. We used the feedback to help us determine what the naming for the new package should be and what the look and feel of the package should be.” The new “leak-proof” packaging is designed to “retain freshness” and “minimize freezer burn,” according to information on Giant's weekly flier.
Participants in GAB “have been supportive and responsive,” added Astrachan, who writes a column for the chains' weekly print circulars and can often be heard over the public address system in stores. “We find [the GAB program] tremendously beneficial.”
In addition to the packaging survey, GAB online survey topics range from advertising and brand issues to shopping and product preferences. Participating shoppers recently responded to a survey asking them for feedback on the kinds of prepared foods they would like to see for lunch and dinner in the deli department. “We're in the process of reviewing that one,” said Astrachan.
“If we're interested in learning the best way to implement a program, we seek out feedback via the surveys,” she said.
The GAB surveys have been beneficial to the chains, in part because of their efficiency. “We're able to obtain feedback in real time; feedback to surveys comes to us almost immediately,” she said. “It's very cost-effective.” She added that the system also helped “build a sense of community with customers.”
Shoppers can join GAB at www.giant.grocerygab.com  or www.stopandshop.grocerygab.com . GAB participants are emailed a “short, easy-to-complete” survey “no more than once a month,” said Astrachan. “If they're not in the mood to answer it, they can wait till the next one.” In return for being in the program, shoppers receive a special quarterly email newsletter for GAB participants and are eligible to win monthly cash prizes. Upon joining the program, they are entered into a drawing to win $1,000.
In the newsletter, the chains explain to shoppers “how their feedback was incorporated into our decision-making process,” said Astrachan. The newsletter also includes recipes and recipe links, consumer messages, the chains' activities in the community and “fun food facts.” The spring newsletter featured a link to a cooking video in which Astrachan demonstrates how to prepare beef sirloin kabobs.
The Ahold chains originally sought shoppers for GAB by sending a mailer to top customers and inviting them to join the program; a coupon for a discount off their next order was included. The program was also promoted in Astrachan's column.
Although the GAB program was recently featured on the Stop & Shop website, it was not there last week.