Empathica Consumer Insights Panel:
Grocery Report

Analysis of U.S. & Canadian Consumer Behaviors in the Grocery Industry

Executive Summary

The Q1 2011 Empathica Consumer Insights Panel surveyed more than 16,000 U.S. and Canadian consumers, focusing on their sentiments around the grocery industry — from overall customer service, to merchandise and store operations, through to preferred store technology and promotions. This survey also took a comprehensive look at consumer spending behaviors and intentions based on current economic factors. This detailed examination is analyzed both on a standalone basis and compared to data pulled from earlier Empathica Consumer Insight Panel survey data that analyzed consumer spending behaviors this past year.

A few notable statistics that came out of the survey are as follows:

  • Despite the current recession, the vast majority of consumers (85.5%) indicated that they will spend more or the same amount at grocery stores/supermarkets within the next three months.
  • The survey revealed that while an overwhelming 97% of consumers reported that they value good customer service at a grocery store, almost half (44%) said that today’s grocery stores aren’t delivering on that expectation.
  • Delivering an excellent grocery experience is increasingly important for word-of-mouth marketing. Nearly three-quarters of consumers said they would promote a grocery store or share positive experiences with others if they had a great experience. Seventy-two percent of women and 66% of men indicated they would make a recommendation if they had a great experience.
  • Self-checkouts ranked as the No. 1 technology that enhances consumers’ overall shopping experience.
  • Half of consumers indicated that an easy-to-use grocery website is also important. Despite its importance, a third of consumers say websites only ‘sometimes’ meet their expectations (28.8%) or ‘never’ meet their expectations (4.1%).
  • The Insights Panel study revealed that 80% of consumers between the ages 18–24 said grocery technology was an important factor in their grocery shopping experience. However, this percentage declined consistently across each age range with only 44.5% of those over 65 expressing these sentiments.
  • When looking at overall consumer sentiments in the U.S. versus Canada, grocery expectations for service elements were very similar. Consumers felt that operations and merchandise were the two most important elements in grocery shopping versus other elements such as promotions, people and technology.
  • Consumers chose Wegman’s Food Markets in the U.S. and Safeway in Canada as the top grocers delivering a great overall customer experience.
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