Findings from a new large-scale consumer study of more than 10,000 consumers conducted by Market Force Information (Market Force) reveals that as more shoppers are crunched for time, prepared foods continue to be a popular choice, with two-thirds indicating they purchased some form of prepared food from their grocer in the previous 30 days.
Forty-three percent did so once a month, 19% once a week, and 8% twice a week or more. Convenience was overwhelming the most popular reason for purchasing prepared foods, but many also turn to pre-made foods as an alternative to dining out or because of the quality of food offered.
The most common types of prepared meals purchased were ready-to-eat main courses and ready-to-eat side dishes/appetizers/desserts. Ready-to-cook main courses and ready-to-cook side dishes/appetizers/desserts ranked third and fourth, respectively.
Wegmans Rises to the Top
For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent grocery shopping experience and their likelihood to refer that grocer to others. The results were averaged to rank each brand on a Composite Loyalty Index.
After not earning enough votes to make the list in 2015, Wegmans garnered double the votes in 2016, resulting in a score of 76%, enough to secure the top spot. Publix ranked second for the fourth year in a row with an earned a score of 75%, followed by Trader Joe’s, which slipped 5 percentage points from 2015 for a score of 73%. Hy-Vee and ALDI rounded out the top five.
Wegmans, founded in 1916, is known for its fresh produce, reasonable prices and massive stores. The Rochester, New York-based chain is expanding modestly, but steadily and winning over more devoted customers along the way. Its focus on employee training to ensure customers have the best experience has been a winning strategy that creates super fans eager for a new location to open near their home.
Publix Has Best items, ALDI Best Prices
Market Force sought to uncover which brands excel in specific operational and service categories that set leading grocers apart. It found that Publix and Wegmans led in most areas, including the ability to find desired items, cleanliness and specialty department service. ALDI was the price leader, followed by WinCo and Costco. Trader Joe’s, known for its friendly service, ranked first for cashier courtesy. ShopRite, Meijer and Kroger offer the best sales and promotions. Hy-Vee also performed well across the board, ranking in the top five in many categories.
Organic and Local Foods Taking Root
Shoppers are increasing seeking local and organic foods while grocery shopping. The study showed that 49% of consumers prefer to purchase organic items when given a choice. Produce, meat and dairy were the most frequently purchased organic products, followed by packaged canned foods, packaged dry foods and frozen foods. Less popular were organic baby products, paper products and personal hygiene products. Purchases of organic options for all but two categories increased one to three percentage points from 2015, indicating a growing importance on the availability of organic selections. A majority (58%) of shoppers also indicated that locally sourced meat, produce and dairy products are important.
Home Delivery and Click & Collect Not Yet Widely Used
Despite the rise in alternative shopping and delivery methods, 99% still do their grocery shopping traditionally – a trip to the store to buy and bring home products. In the past 90 days, just 5% ordered online for home delivery, 2% ordered online and picked up groceries in-store, and 2% used “Click and Collect” – ordering online and collecting through the grocer’s drive-up. Of the 4% who have ever tried Click and Collect, 73% were satisfied with the experience and nearly half are repeat users.