Survey: Shoppers love Aldi, but say Walmart's customer experience lags
- A consumer survey released by Retail Feedback Group Study had positive news for Aldi and cautionary news for everyone else. The 2017 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study, which examined shopper attitudes on a range of industry topics, indicated Aldi is winning with shoppers on value and checkout experience, while Walmart received the lowest scores in all core areas of grocery shopping.
- The survey found that millennials gave the lowest ratings of any shopper group on the overall grocery trip experience, while baby boomers gave the highest.
- More and more supermarkets are incorporating meal kits into their assortments, with 15% of consumers reporting their primary grocer now stocks a kit offering. Just 14% of supermarket shoppers used a meal kit delivery service last year, though millennials were more likely to use them than other generations..
Retail Feedback Group’s survey touched on numerous topics, though three seemed most pressing for grocery retailers today.
Aldi, Walmart and the store experience
Walmart and Aldi have been running close to neck and neck on pricing, but according to RFG’s survey, there’s no comparison when it comes to customer sentiment. Shoppers gave Aldi a 4.54 out of 5 on the question of whether they would recommend the retailer to friends, compared to a 3.66 for all supermarkets. Thirty-three percent of shoppers who had visited Aldi in the past 60 days, meanwhile, said they would shop at the discounter more, compared to the 21% grocery average and just 10% reported by Walmart visitors.
These results may reflect Aldi’s store growth and extensive remodeling campaign, which plays up the chain’s fresh selections in locations across the country. The results also indicate that price is just one factor in determining where consumers shop. Value placed on small stores and private label products is increasing. Aldi hits on both of those points with stores that average just 16,000 square feet. As Aldi continues to build and remodel stores near Walmart locations, it will be interesting to see how this battle plays out.
Generational differences in aisle 2
RFG’s study highlighted the different perceptions and expectations among the generations of shoppers. From quality and freshness of the products to cleanliness of the store to attitude of the staff, millennial shoppers gave grocers the lowest grades. Gen X shoppers straddled the middle and baby boomers were the most positive.
These results follow a pattern seen in all retail, as millennials' expectations demand businesses to raise the bar on their performance. Boomers will certainly benefit from fresher products, cleaner stores and nicer staff, but as grocers try to satisfy millennials, they shouldn’t ignore the needs of the more experienced shopper.
Grocers could score a value win with meal kits
As consumer demand for meal kits grows and companies like Blue Apron struggle with profitability, grocers wonder when and how to get involved. Some, like Albertsons, which recently bought Plated, have jumped in, while others remain more cautious, slowly rolling out private label kits in stores.
RFG’s survey indicates private label kits like Kroger’s Prep + Pared could resonate with shoppers looking for value. According to the survey, 65% of meal kit users are dissatisfied with the value they get from online companies like Hello Fresh and Home Fresh. Conversely, among those who had bought supermarket meal kits, 54% said they found the selections to be a good value.
Prep + Pared meal kits cost $14 per two-serving kit, compared to $20 for the same size portion from Blue Apron. As retailers like Kroger and Publix continue to roll out their own meal kits, if they can keep up this price and satisfaction level, they appear to stand a strong chance of attracting customers of online providers.