A new survey by Alix Partners LLP sheds considerable light on the current state of mind of American grocery shoppers.

Alix Partners LLP, American grocery shoppers, Walmart, Kroger Co., Target Corp., Costco Wholesale Corp., Publix Super Markets Inc., ShopRite, Meijer, Kroger

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Inside This Issue - News

Study eyes grocery shoppers

September 19th, 2011

NEW YORK – A new survey by Alix Partners LLP sheds considerable light on the current state of mind of American grocery shoppers.

The good news for food retailers in all channels is that, while consumers’ economic outlook is increasingly gloomy, relatively few plan to cut their grocery spending this year.

The nationwide poll of 1,000 adults age 18 or older shows that, while the country’s persistent economic doldrums have most consumers looking for ways to save money — including buying more private label goods and using coupons — they are still paying close attention to such merchandising tactics and media as sampling, product displays and in-store signage. The vast majority (93%) said product displays and signage influence purchases not on their shopping lists, while 79% acknowledged purchasing items sampled with in-store coupons.

However, one way consumers are dealing with the current environment is to shop for groceries at a variety of outlets. In fact, traditional grocers are getting only 51% of consumers’ grocery dollars. Discounters, including supercenters, have claimed 30% of respondents’ purchases, followed by membership warehouse clubs with 13%. Drug stores and dollar stores trail distantly with 5% each.

Traditional grocery remains most popular with higher-income (annual household income of $75,000 or more) consumers, who are also twice as likely to shop warehouse clubs as lower-income shoppers, who favor mass merchandisers and dollar stores.

One of the more striking findings of the study was the broad popularity of Walmart as a grocery outlet. No less than 47% of respondents named Walmart as one of their top three preferred grocery retailers.

Equally interesting is the fact that Walmart’s popularity is not limited to lower-income shoppers. In fact, 15% of respondents with incomes between $75,000 and $99,999 named Walmart as one of their top three grocers, more than any other segment except those earning less than $25,000 (17%).

Kroger Co. and Target Corp. tied for second place, being included in the top three choices of 16% of respondents, furnishing strong validation of Target’s strategy of expanded grocery offerings in its new PFresh format. Costco Wholesale Corp., despite offering a limited grocery assortment, came in third with 14%, followed by Publix Super Markets Inc. at 11%.

The survey also underlined the shopper loyalty enjoyed by some of the regional chains.

Among respondents who mentioned Publix as one of their top three, 66% said it was their first choice for grocery shopping, followed by ShopRite with 58% and Meijer at 48%.
Among national chains, Kroger led as the No. 1 pick of 46% of those who mentioned it, followed by Walmart with 35% and Safeway at 34%.

Region also influences retailer preference. For example, in the West, Walmart was most often the top choice, but Costco and Safeway were very close.

In the Midwest, on the other hand, Walmart and Meijer enjoyed the greatest popularity followed by Kroger. In the South, Publix demonstrated nearly as high a level of loyalty as Walmart. In the Northeast, however, regional supermarkets retain strong popularity, with Stop & Shop and ShopRite contending strongly with Walmart.