May 30, 2014
Quirky grocery chain Trader Joe’s took the top spot as North America’s favorite grocery retailer, a ranking based on customer satisfaction, in a survey conducted by Market Force Information.
Cincinnati-based Kroger was No. 7 on the list of favorites, while retail giant Wal-Mart was 12th.
This is the second year in a row that Trader Joe’s ranked first in the study, designed to uncover information such as customer satisfaction and frequency of visits.
Trader Joe’s popularity was linked to its ability to “truly wow their customers,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force Information.
The grocer has amassed a loyal following of shoppers by offering an unconventional grocery shopping experience with a neighborhood feel, Eden-Harris said.
In addition, consumers are increasingly interested in local and organic foods and prepared meals, she said, and “being adequate is no longer good enough.”
“We’ve found that delighted customers are three times more likely to recommend a grocery store than those who had just an OK experience,” Eden-Harris said.
The results echo a report from Consumer Reports in March, indicating that consumers loved Trader Joe’s for its combination of high-quality food, low prices, cleanliness and exemplary service.
Kroger spokeswoman Jackie Siekmann said that while the company wouldn’t comment on the rankings, “I can tell you that we are seeing more of our customers trending toward local and organic products.
“There are 71 stores in the Columbus metro area, and anytime we remodel one of those stores, we always focus on expanding our organic and natural food departments to keep up with the growing demand,” Siekmann said.
“A little over a year ago, we rolled out Simple Truth Organics, our private label brand, and that has really taken off with our customers. That just points to the growing interest in organics."
In responding to interest in local food sourcing, organic foods and prepared meals, “Kroger is very middle of the road,” said Lee Peterson, executive vice president at WD Partners, a Dublin-based consulting company that recently conducted a similar study.
“In prepared foods, for instance, Whole Foods is pretty much untouchable,” Peterson said. “The one in Upper Arlington is a knockout in prepared food. Kroger didn’t rank low, but they didn’t rank high, either. If you think about Kroger, you think middle-of-the-road, traditional grocer that does a ton of volume and serves medium- to low-income consumers.”
That point is confirmed by the Market Force study, which also collected data on where consumers spent most of their grocery dollars.
In that category, Kroger was second, both nationally and in the Midwest, edged out of first place only by Wal-Mart. The ranking was a slight drop for Kroger, which was first in the previous two years in the survey.
The poll of more than 6,200 consumers was conducted in March and looked at 12 grocery chains.