America Has Picked Its Favorite Grocery Store(s)! for 2017

America has voted on its favorite grocery store, or we should say stores. Wegmans and Publix tied in Market Forces’ 2017 survey of more than 12,700 shoppers. This is the second consecutive year Wegmans has been named, bumping Trader Joe’s, which had a long winning streak. TJ’s still came in a close second and H-E-B third.

 

Graph 1-Grocery CLI

Consumers Love Unique Assortments

One aspect that likely pushed Wegmans ahead was its specialty departments which we wrote about in the weeks prior. Wegmans is known for not only having meat, cheese, produce and flower departments where you can buy just about anything imaginable, but also having a sumptuous olive bar and offering exotic treats from around the world. Publix was touted for having the products you wanted available on the shelf.

Local & Organic Strong Factor 

It may be these specialty and sustainable products that make the biggest difference. In the survey, nearly 60 percent of shoppers said that it was important to them to be able to buy locally sourced meat, produce and dairy products. Half said they prefer organic and 93 percent said they’d purchased organic produce in the last 30 days.

Graph 3 - Organic Products Purchased

Organic Products Purchased

This reflects an ongoing shift in consumer preferences that retailers and CPG companies alike could take as a clear heads up for future planning.

The Convenience Winner

A lot of shoppers are searching for ways to make shopping more convenient but some approaches are working better than others. There’s a definite trend toward home delivery of groceries, with 18 percent of shoppers trying home delivery compared to 15 percent last year.

But many people prefer to shop online and pick up their own groceries. Click-and-collect services more than doubled since 2016. The numbers are still small, only 9 percent of shoppers, but that’s compared to 4 percent the year before. If it continues to grow at that rate it could be huge in a short amount of time. Nearly  80 percent of click-and-collect shoppers were satisfied or very satisfied with their experience. Millennials are leading this trend.

 

Graph 5 - Click and Collect Frequency

Click and Collect Frequency

Are Meal Kits Losing Their Luster?

Another convenience trend that’s not doing so well is meal kit services where all the ingredients are delivered, with a recipe, to consumers’ homes. Only 11 percent of consumers had tried meal kit delivery services, half of them looking to add variety to their meal planning. But 76 percent of shoppers who tried meal kit services said they wouldn’t use them again because they felt like it wasn’t a good value and didn’t deliver what they hoped for or expected.

Graph 4 - Reasons for Using Meal Kits

Reasons for Using Meal Kits

Consumers Value a Great Price 

Of the top stores, all of them try to create a great shopping experience, use innovation, focus on sustainability measures and offer special products to customers. But surprisingly, right behind the top line stores were stores like ALDI which have built their reputation on value, and less about the availability of specialty products or experience. ALDI although is hot on a campaign to revamp what it offers customers in terms of both variety and experience and it appears to be working.

Competition Pushes Innovation 

It’s clear that with so many options available both online and in brick-and-mortar stores, shoppers expect to be able to buy whatever they want as conveniently as possible. They also still want a great value and a great in-store experience. What’s exciting is seeing what retailers will do with that information in the coming year as the fight to be America’s favorite grocery retailer continues to heat up.

Graph 2-Grocers Ranked by Attributes

 

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Seth Nagle, Senior Marketing Manager at RW3 Technologies provides a fresh perspective to a complex CPG industry that even Watson would have a difficult time analyzing.