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Grocery store loyalty is weak, reports tcc global in its 2018 International Loyalty Study [pdf]. Indeed, almost 4 in 10 shoppers surveyed across 15 global territories agree that it wouldn’t matter to them if their usual store closed (as they’d just shop elsewhere), and about 1 in 8 report having switching their main grocery store within the previous year.

Loyalty to grocery stores may be weak due to the drivers of store choice, which revolve primarily around convenience as opposed to store-specific characteristics.

Globally, the top 2 drivers of banner choice are the store being “close to me” (54% citing) and “easy to get to” (48%), according to the survey of more than 15,000 shoppers.

Some store-specific factors also figure into the equation, though. Shoppers, for example, cite good selection of food products (41%) and good value offers (38%) as being among their top drivers.

Furthermore, 7 in 10 shoppers want retailers to offer various incentives beyond the traditional loyalty card. More than one-third would like retailers to offer them simple solutions to make life easier in the kitchen, and more than one-quarter want grocery stores to encourage healthier eating habits among kids.

Overall, just 5% of shoppers globally agreed that they would switch to another retailer if their current store withdrew their loyalty card scheme, suggesting that these programs are not affecting shopper behavior.

Of note, grocery store loyalty program memberships declined by 24% in the US between 2015 and 2016 (in part due to mergers and acquisitions activity), according to recent research, even as the broader retail sector saw a sizable increase in overall loyalty program memberships.

Shoppers Spread Their Grocery Trips Among Numerous Stores

Another potential factor in grocery shoppers’ low levels of loyalty is the amount of store choice. Across the 15 markets analyzed, shoppers have 5.5 easily reachable grocery stores, regularly using 3.3 of them on average.

Among the 15 markets, respondents in the US have the largest number of easily reachable stores (10.9) and also visit the most number of stores (4.7) on a regular basis. However, respondents in the US are among the least likely to spread their visits across stores: they visit on average 43% of available stores, compared to 50% or higher for shoppers in 11 of the 15 markets.

Other Survey Highlights

  • Among US stores, Trader Joe’s ranks highest in perceptions of customer experience and of customer care. Previous research has also found high customer satisfaction with Trader Joe’s.
  • Kroger, meanwhile, leads all grocery stores in loyalty reward delivery perceptions.
  • Discounters are picking up customers, as they now account for 16% of main shopping trips. Discounters also have higher net promoter scores (NPS) on average than convenience stores, hypermarkets, and supermarkets. Discounters are being recommended not only for low prices but also for their range of private label offerings and the quality of their available fresh produce.

About the Data: The results are based on 15,165 online interviews with main shoppers in 15 markets. The markets were Australia, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, the United States and the United Kingdom. The research was conducted in March 2018.

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