Despite glowing headlines about America’s economic recovery, millions of people struggle with stagnant wages and an increased cost of living. As a result, nearly 60 percent of consumers say finding a deal is important when they’re food shopping, according to the 2015 Annual National Grocers Association (NGA)-SupermarketGuru Consumer Survey.
Nearly 1,000 shoppers completed surveys that detailed their experiences, behaviors and sentiments on what appeals to them (or not) about supermarkets, as well as their purchase influences, eating habits and nutritional concerns. A total of 129 shopping attributes are addressed in this year’s survey. Nearly three-quarters of the respondents were female.
“The results of this survey once again provide independent supermarkets important insights and trends about today’s ever-changing consumer,” said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of NGA. “It’s clear that customer service remains an important experience for today’s consumers, giving independent supermarkets another opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competition.”
The 2015 NGA-SupermarketGuru Consumer Survey Report reveals a bounce of nearly 10 percentage points for “deals.” Six in 10 consumers call finding deals “very” important. This measure was 50.4 percent in 2014 and 49.1 percent in 2013. This increase equals the 2010 recession peak of 60.0 percent.
“Retailers need to maximize the impact of trade promotions and communication to consumers to differentiate their store as price-friendly,” said Phil Lempert, CEO of SupermarketGuru.com and The Lempert Report. “Technology is available to reach target audiences and to communicate opportunities that matter to the shopper.”
According to the survey, consumers are taking notice of this type of outreach. Nearly 41 percent of consumers grade supermarkets “excellent” on this measure, an advance of nearly four points that reflects improved technology, better planning and a more polished communications approach.
In addition, nearly half of consumers (48 percent) rate their favorite food store “excellent” in high-quality fruits and vegetables. This continues to rise—from just 43.5 percent two years ago. A vital trend since perimeter fresh foods are magnets to three-quarters of adult shoppers (74.percent), and two-thirds (67 percent) call produce their primary attraction.
The survey also shows that supermarket employees are improving their customer relations. More than half of consumers (52 percent) rate their preferred supermarket “excellent” on courteous, friendly employees. This is up nearly four points from last year—another pivotal measure since shoppers prefer to spend money in stores where workers are nice to them. A commanding 96 percent say this is “very/somewhat” important to their choice of a primary supermarket.
“Stores also need to stay updated with technology for both the benefits and the issues,” said Lempert. “Stores need to remain updated on data security to prevent breaches and lost privacy, and also offer online orders with both pick-up and delivery options.”
The survey also reveals that consumers wouldn’t be too fazed if there were a security breach at their retailer; however, more shoppers would likely switch stores upon a second incident.