Shop local, grocery customers say

February 14, 2018

About two-thirds (64%) of shoppers are ”very/extremely satisfied” with their local supermarket, based on findings released from the third annual National Grocery Shoppers Survey. In fact, more than 80% of shoppers prefer their local store to an online/delivery alternative, such as Peapod or Hello Fresh.

Additionally, independent grocers are strongly associated with friendly employees, quality meats and produce, and easy-to-navigate layout.

The study was conducted among 3,000 U.S. adults by Nielsen on behalf of the National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry.  This year’s survey reflects consumer attitudes and behaviors from both The Harris Poll consumer panel and Nielsen’s panel-based Independent Grocer Shopping database, a new subset of the Nielsen Homescan panel, making this the largest and most developed view into today’s independent grocery shopper, the researchers said.

“There’s no doubt that the supermarket industry is rapidly changing, either because of the growth of e-commerce or the explosion of new formats, along with shifting consumer trends. However, independent grocers are nimble enough to quickly overcome obstacles and with strong ties to their communities, they know what consumers want and need,” said NGA President and CEO Peter Larkin.

Among the other key findings:

  • E-commerce insights: Even those who prefer to shop online do additional shopping in-store (68%), with the majority of their purchases (75%) done at the store. Convenience is the main reason for shopping online for groceries, while the need to see items and concerns about freshness are the biggest barriers to online shopping.
  • Health and Wellness: The majority of Independent shoppers (63%) expect their grocery stores to support them with a healthier lifestyle. The top recommendations included: Instructions on how to cook with certain foods (28%); help with label reading including ingredients and nutritional claims (25%); and general guidance on food that gives good nutritional value for the dollar (23%). Shoppers were almost split on where healthy foods should be displayed, with 58% saying that healthy food alternatives should be shelved alongside other food items, compared to 42% who think healthy food should be in its own section, separate from main aisles.
  • Areas that are valued most: Shoppers value low prices, quality meats and produce, friendly staff, cleanliness, and offers of locally grown produce and other packaged goods. Almost 7 in 10 shoppers (67%) have no plans to switch from their independent stores.

Finally, you cannot poll shoppers and avoid complaints. Respondents said that independent supermarket operators need to improve their website usability, with consistent pricing online and offline, the same products online and in-store, and an easy-to-use smart phone app.

Research contact: communications@nationalgrocers.org

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