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Trader Joe’s, Publix And Aldi Rank As Consumers’ Favorite Grocery Stores

Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 10:25 am

Trader Joe’s continues to build a loyal following with its diverse grocery selection and 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 grocers 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 percent, and was closely followed by Publix with 74 percent. Aldi, Hy-Vee and H-E-B rounded out the top five. 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 California-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.

“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 were 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 percent prefer to buy organic products when given a choice. Produce is by far the most popular organic item—90 percent said they had purchased it in the previous 30 days. Meat wasn’t far behind with 55 percent, dairy was a close third with 54 percent, and packaged canned (soups, sauces, etc.) and dry products (cereal, pasta, etc.) were each cited by 29 percent to tie for fourth. On the flip side, only 6 percent 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 percent said they have purchased prepared meals from a grocer at least weekly in the past month, a 10 percent increase from 2014’s findings. 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 percent 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 percent have used click-and-collect, but 75 percent of those said they were highly satisfied with the experience and more than half are repeat users.

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 percent 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 percent clip coupons from them and 63 percent use them to compare prices between grocers.

The Market Force survey was conducted online in April across the U.S. 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 percent reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to 65-plus. Approximately 68 percent were women and 32 percent were men.

About the author

Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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