According to a the the 2017 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study, released Wednesday by the Retail Feedback Group, supermarkets have some key challenges to face when it comes to the consumers' instore experience.

The research, now in its 10th year, found that while supermarkets receive the strongest marks in quality and variety, Aldi has a decided advantage in value for the money and a slight edge in the checkout experience. Also, millennials gave lower ratings than older shoppers in every aspect the supermarket visit.

Shoppers gave an overall satisfaction rating of 4.42 on a five-point scale for shopping times before 3 p.m., but that mark fell to a 4.36 between 3 and 7 p.m. A number of factors ratings fell after 3 p.m., including cleanliness, quality/freshness, staff friendliness and value for the money. This is a key challenge since many retailers focus on this daypart to attract consumers to their retail foodservice departments for nightly meals. 

Shoppers were most pleased with the quality and freshness of the food (rating that area a 4.45) and the cleanliness of the store (4.40) while associate friendliness was a 4.34, associate helpfulness/knowledge was 4.24, checkout speed/efficiency was 4.23 and associated availability was 4.19.

Areas that saw low scores were natural and organic items (4.05), ethnic/international products (3.97), allergen-free items (3.97) and locally-sourced items (3.96).

Value for the money spent was a t a 4.18, including a 3.98 for meat prices, 4.03 for produce prices and 4.03 for everyday prices. 

"These survey findings point to a critical need for grocery retailers with a physical presence to step up their game," says Doug Madenberg, RFG principal. "When people shop in supermarket, the overall experience, assortment, and value proposition need to be excellent in order to earn their next visit. There are too many grocery options available online, in hard discount stores, and across other formats, for an average of sub-par supermarket visit to be acceptable."

Aldi shines

Shoppers who visited an Aldi in the last 60 days are more likely to recommend the store (4.54 on a five-point scale) than supermarket shoppers, who give an average rating of (3.66). Further, 33 percent of those who shopped at Aldi say they plan to shop there more than now in the next 12 months versus 21 percent for supermarket shoppers and just 10 percent for Walmart. In core experience ratings, Aldi shoppers give value for money the highest marks (4.68), and also score Aldi higher than supermarkets on checkout speed (4.30). Walmart shoppers give lower scores on the all the core experience factors.

Millennials give low marks

Millennials scored supermarkets the lowest on all core experience factors, as well as overall trip satisfaction. Boomers, on the other hand, rated overall trip experience and nearly all core experience factors highest (and only one area – staff knowledge/helpfulness—was rated equal by both Boomers and Gen X). 
Brian Numainville, RFG principal, says, "The fact that overall trip satisfaction and all of the core experience factors register lowest among Millennials should be a call to action for supermarkets. Traditional supermarkets must find ways to make the supermarket more appealing and relevant to younger shoppers or risk becoming endangered as Boomers age and purchase less."