ARLINGTON, Va. — The vast majority of shoppers believe their primary supermarket cares about them, at least moderately, according to the 2011 National Grocers Association Consumer Survey Report.
The survey, conducted by The Supermarket Guru, is scheduled to be presented this week at the NGA Convention by Phil Lempert, chief executive officer of The Supermarket Guru and a contributing editor at SN.
For the first time this year, the survey polled shoppers about whether their primary supermarket “cares” about them, and found that about 89% agreed that it does — 34% wholeheartedly, and another 55% who said they felt a “moderate” amount of caring from their store. Only 2% responded “not at all,” and the rest said their store “barely” cared about them.
When asked what factors signal a level of caring by their primary store, the most popular response was that the store was clean and well organized, cited by 87% of respondents. Fair prices came in at No. 2, with 80%, followed by “produce, meats and seafood are always appealing and fresh,” with 77%. Close behind were “carries the items and brands that I like” and “items are never or rarely out of date,” both cited by 68% of respondents.
This year's survey also showed some differences in the way customers are shopping, compared with previous years, including a slight shift toward alternative formats. While the vast majority of shoppers said they buy most of their food at a supermarket, that percentage dipped by a point, to 84%, vs. a year ago, while warehouse clubs and specialty food stores each gained a point to 4%, compared with 3% in the 2010 survey.
Interestingly, shoppers placed less emphasis on low prices as an important feature of their supermarket in this year's survey. The number who cited low prices as a “very important” feature totaled 44% of respondents, vs. 51% in each of the preceding two years.
“The public is tired of holding tight, even though most continue to do so,” the report stated. “Regarding necessities in a food store, at least, they want the quality and items they used to enjoy routinely.”
Shoppers also want their grocery shopping to be efficient, and, as the report noted, “chasing low prices in more stores takes time.” (See Data Points for information on what consumers find annoying in supermarkets.)
In this year's survey, another 51% of respondents said lower prices were “somewhat important,” with only 5% saying low prices were “not too important.”
Similarly, in this year's survey, 55% of respondents said it was “very important” for their store to have items on sale or money-saving specials, down from 60% in the year-ago survey.
Private label also has declined as a “very important” store attribute, with 22% of respondents citing it this year, vs. 25% last year and 27% in 2009.
LOCAL AND ORGANIC
While consumers might be suffering from sale-searching and private-label fatigue, as the study points out, their quest for organic product is only gaining momentum.
This year, 31% of respondents said offering organic products was “very important” to them, up five points from a year ago, and another 37% said it was “somewhat important,” up one percentage point. Leading this surge in the popularity of organics are Baby Boomers, women, and households that spend more than $100 per week on groceries.
Meanwhile, 70% of respondents said their primary supermarket was doing a “good” or “excellent” job with organics, down 1 point from a year ago. Another 26% said their store did a “fair” job, and 4% rated their primary supermarket as “poor” in its organic selection.
The local movement also gained steam this year. A total of 86% of respondents said the presence of locally grown produce and locally sourced packaged foods were either “very” or “somewhat important,” up from 83% a year ago. The gain was entirely reflected by those who think this is “very important,” at 45% of respondents, vs. 41% last year.
Respondents also said they thought their primary supermarket was getting better at offering local items, with 23% rating their store as “excellent,” up from 21% last year and 18% in the preceding year.
Offering more local product was No. 1 on the list of improvements respondents said they wanted to see in their primary stores, with 44% citing it, up from 41% a year ago. More organic foods was No. 4 on that list, at 26%, up from 20% a year ago.
Among other findings from the report:
91% of respondents said having high-quality fruits and vegetables is “very important,” the same as last year but up from 86% in 2009.
74% of those polled said offering high-quality meats was “very important,” and another 19% said this was “somewhat important,” about the same total as a year ago.
76% of shoppers polled cited the availability of nutrition and health information as being either “very” or “somewhat important,” the same as last year, when this attribute rose in importance.
The survey polled 1,718 chief household shoppers between November 2010 and January 2011. The survey addressed a total of 74 shopping attributes. Respondents, who are members of the 105,000-member SupermarketGuru.com Consumer Panel, were 80% female.
of shoppers polled believe their primary supermarkets “care” about them.
Source: 2011 NGA Consumer Survey Report