H-E-B has been named the top U.S. Grocery Retailer in the seventh annual dunnhumby Retailer Preference Index (RPI), a nationwide study that examines the U.S. grocery market.
H-E-B is the first grocery retailer to be recognized three times as No. 1 in the RPI ranking, surpassing Amazon and Trader Joe’s which have ranked as top grocer twice. Amazon and Costco round out the top three grocers in the U.S. for a second year in a row.
The seven other retailers in the top 10 of the RPI are: Market Basket, Sam’s Club, Wegman’s, Aldi, Shoprite, Walmart Neighborhood Market and Walmart. Retailers in the top quartile of the RPI have a five-year CAGR of 8.5 percent compared to 3.6 percent for retailers in the fourth quartile. In addition, 59 percent of customers of first quartile retailers have a strong emotional connection with retailers compared to 41 percent of customers of fourth quartile retailers.
“Knowing your customer and your competitive positioning regarding customer needs will be critical for retailers to scratch out any organic growth in 2024. Customers are re-evaluating their opinions of retailers more than ever, and that will only intensify in the coming months due to the economic headwinds facing consumers,” said Matt O’Grady, president of the Americas.
“In this year’s RPI, we illuminate how the consumer views the grocery market and how different retailers are meeting the general population’s needs as well as the needs of different consumer segments.”
Key findings from the study:
- Dunnhumby forecasts the U.S. grocery market sales growth will be 0.5-1.5 percent in 2024 – one of only three times in the last 30 years with growth below 1 percent and the slowest growth rate since the Great Recession of 2009. This slowdown is due to the economic headwinds still facing consumers – slowing disposable income growth, lower savings rate, higher debt, cost to service consumer debt and the drying up of pandemic-related savings buffers.
- Competitive intensity is at an all-time high in this fourth year of economic uncertainty. Customers are re-evaluating retailer value propositions, ensuring those value propositions align with their needs. The average retailer ranking in a value proposition changed by six spots, higher than any previous year.
- Savings through low base prices and personalized promotions and rewards remains the strongest driver of better long-term retailer performance, followed by maintaining high quality assortment. Market Basket, Winco and Aldi are the top three in the RPI’s “Price, Promotions, Rewards” pillar, due to the strongest combination of mass and personalized pricing levers. Wegman’s, Trader Joes and The Fresh Market are the top three in the “Quality” pillar. Wegman’s has held the top position in the “Quality” pillar every year of the RPI.
- H-E-B topped the RPI ranking because it has the strongest customer value proposition for the long-term. This is due to its ability to deliver a combination of better savings and better experience/assortment, supported by time savings through superior digital capabilities.
- Amazon has been in the top three every year of the RPI and has ranked first twice. It is doing this with a segmented approach, rather than building a customer value proposition that equally attracts different segments of the general population.
- Two Kroger banners (Kroger and Fry’s) made it to the top quartile for the first time in the history of the RPI. The Kroger banners’ move into the first quartile can be explained by improvements they drove in overall price perception in 2023, a year when saving customers money mattered more than any year in this study, prior to 2022. Two other Kroger banners (Fred Meyer and King Soopers) were also among the biggest climbers in this year’s RPI ranking. These latter two sit in the second quartile, just outside of the first quartile.
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