2013 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study Released

The Retail Feedback Group (RFG), a leader in providing actionable stakeholder feedback, released the 2013 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study.

In its sixth year, the study found that supermarkets continue to generate high satisfaction among their shoppers, scoring an average of 4.45 on a five-point scale, where five is highest. Doug Madenberg, RFG Principal commented, “The supermarket channel continues to show strength in cleanliness, cashier friendliness, checkout experience, sales promotions, grocery variety and fresh foods. This results in a high degree of overall trip satisfaction among shoppers, coupled with nine out of ten of shoppers indicating a willingness to recommend their primary store to other shoppers. Our research also illustrates the importance of a fun and exciting shopping environment but not to the detriment of speed and value.”

Interplay of Exciting Environment, Fast Checkout and Value

Just two out of ten shoppers indicate that their primary store “absolutely” provides a fun and exciting environment. Those shoppers gave their store very high satisfaction marks of 4.78 on a 5-point scale. Conversely, shoppers who don’t believe their store provides a fun experience gave a low satisfaction rating of 3.95. Seasonal items and displays are identified by shoppers as the number one way to create a more exciting destination, followed by sampling and frequent new item introductions.

While retail excitement is important and can provide significant benefits, the fundamentals of facilitating a fast shopping trip and offering value remains key. When considering a fun and exciting experience against a fast trip, shoppers allocate an average of 5.95 points out of a maximum of 10 to the need for speed (versus 4.05 for fun). When weighing a fun and exciting experience against value/low prices, affordability wins out with an average point allocation of 7.91 versus 2.09 for experience. These findings clearly reinforce that supermarkets must focus on the basics right alongside building an exciting shopping experience.

Brian Numainville, RFG Principal indicated, “The satisfaction rating gap, based on whether or not a store provides a fun and exciting environment, illustrates ample room for supermarkets to improve in-store theater to help win shoppers. At the same time, supermarkets must not lose sight of the necessity for a fast trip and value/low prices as part of this equation – it’s the interplay of these three factors that appeals to shoppers.”

Technology and Social Media Provide Opportunities

  • Nearly half of all grocery shoppers own smartphones, with a much higher concentration among younger shoppers. Consumer predictions for “very likely” use in the next year include leveraging smartphones to save through digital coupons (42 percent), access weekly sales items (38 percent) and make grocery lists (31 percent).
  • Supermarket shoppers regularly use Facebook (71 percent), Twitter (21 percent) and Pinterest (18 percent). However, just 24 percent of grocery store shoppers are friends with or connected to their primary supermarket. At the same time, many would be very willing to try a new recipe/meal (40 percent) or purchase a new food item (34 percent) based on recommendations from their social network.
  • Just one in 10 shoppers cite a high likelihood of using their primary store’s website for pickup or home delivery instead of going to a physical store to buy groceries.

Brian Numainville, RFG Principal, noted, “Supermarkets must be in sync with today’s technology and social media tools in order to build a relationship with shoppers. Considering social media, for example, there is a significant opportunity gap between use by shoppers and a connection with their primary supermarket.”

Out of Stocks Remain Critical to Satisfaction

Supermarket satisfaction among shoppers unable to find all items they had planned to buy on their shopping trip averaged 4.08 on a five-point scale, compared with 4.47 among shoppers who did find all items. The survey also found that out-of-stocks may cost retailers sales, with 46 percent of those shoppers going or planning to go to a different store to purchase the item; 38 percent foregoing the item; 18 percent buying a different item at the store instead; and 13 percent buying a different brand or size.

Store Department Satisfaction Ratings Show Strengths and Opportunities

  • The supermarket continues to show strength in store cleanliness, the top scoring attribute on the survey.
  • Highest satisfaction in the perimeter departments are found in dairy/frozen, meat and produce. Prepared/takeout food and seafood offer opportunities for improvement, receiving the lowest marks.
  • Grocery variety receives the top score for variety in departments across the store. The biggest opportunity presents itself in growing areas like variety in natural/organic products, ethnic/international items, and locally-sourced items.
  • Cashier friendliness, the second highest scoring area, along with strengths in overall checkout experience and bagging, illustrate the edge supermarkets have at the final point of the customer transaction.
  • The majority of supermarket shoppers patronize the most conveniently located store. Top reasons for bypassing one or more stores are quality and variety of fresh foods, lower prices in general, and promotions and specials for specific items.

Shoppers Still Primarily Review Print Sales & Advertising Vehicles
Nearly three-quarters of shoppers use some form of money-saving measure during their visit to the supermarket. The printed, home-delivered circular remains the most frequently used measure (76 percent), followed by printed coupons (35 percent) and in-store promotions (28 percent). Electronic circulars and store/website coupons register 24 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

A summary of study highlights is available at the Retail Feedback Group website. Grocery retailers and media outlets can obtain a free copy of the full report by sending a request to The report is based on a nationally-representative study of 1,200 supermarket shoppers and was prepared in conjunction with 210 Analytics, LLC.

Source: The Retail Feedback Group