The latest ranking of America’s best-loved supermarkets is just in, and once again, Trader Joe’s lands at the top of the heap, followed by Publix, Aldi, Costco, and Hy-Vee.
The survey, from Market Force, a Colorado-based market research company best known for its fleet of mystery shoppers, bases its results on responses from some 6,200 adults around the country, who rate their satisfaction with stores by service, assortment and price, as well as the likelihood that they’d recommend it to a friend. It then factors in geographic distribution, to make a level comparison for regional brands.
Trader Joe’s, best known among marketers for its aversion to advertising and social media, won first place for the second year. Of the 12 chains studied, it earns an overall score of 82%. “With its quirky branding, unique private-label products such as Speculoos Cookie Butter and Green Tea Mints, and a constantly rotating array of merchandise, Trader Joe’s has amassed a loyal following of shoppers looking for an unconventional grocery shopping experience with a neighborhood feel,” the report says.
Publix came in second, with a score of 80%, although it ranked highest for service, with loyalists praising both its atmosphere and speedy checkout service. And Aldi, the limited-assortment chain that came in third, actually came in first place for low prices.
But all three got high marks for courteous and fast service, in addition to the quality private-label brands.
Whole Foods and Wegman’s fell in the rankings, while Safeway moved up. ShopRite received the highest scores for sales and promotions, while Walmart is the overall favorite for one-stop shopping.
By product category, Costco is tops in meat, Publix in produce, and Trader Joe’s fares best in categories related to healthy food and nutrition. (It scores an 83% for its natural and organic food choice, for example, far ahead of Publix with 31%.) Trader Joe’s also took top marks for best private-label brands.
In terms of where shoppers spend the most money, Walmart wins in all regions except the Northeast, where it’s bested by ShopRite.
Locavorism is gaining ground, with 59% of respondents saying local sourcing of meat, produce and dairy products is important, and 65% that they are more likely to purchase locally sourced items. Organic foods are also increasingly in demand, with shoppers saying they like them because of better nutritional value, better quality and absence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Perhaps more interesting than any single store’s results, however, is just how much people dislike grocery shopping, in general -- with 50% ranking their most recent shopping experience as either just okay, or lousy.
Major pet peeves? Long checkout times (cited by 46%); inability to find what they want (32%), produce quality (16%); poor service by floor associates (15%) and poor service by cashier (15%).
“Competition is fierce and growing in the grocery sector with regional players going national and national players moving toward neighborhood market concepts,” writes Janet Eden-Harris, Market Force’s CMO, in the report. “It’s only getting more difficult to attract and keep customers, and being adequate is no longer good enough. We’ve found that delighted customers are three times more likely to recommend a grocery store than those who had just an okay experience. This tells us that chains that truly wow their customers on their first visit can establish brand advocates who go on to recommend the grocer to friends and family.”