Retail Foodservice

What’s Driving Retail Foodservice Consumers?

A look at the factors that are whetting customers’ appetites

From deli takeout and self-serve food bars to chef-prepared entrees, consumers are increasingly turning to grocery stores for fresh-prepared meals. Without question, the growth of retail foodservice programs has been nothing short of phenomenal. Here, we breakdown data from Technomic that explores what’s driving consumers’ perceptions of the leading retail food-service (RFS) banners.

Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics (CBM) program, powered by Ignite, measures several aspects of the customer experience. Its brand image rating is a weighted average based on the number of consumers who say they strongly agree with eight distinct statements about attributes of each brand’s image, including social responsibility, trustworthiness, reputation, shared values, uniqueness and more.

So what’s differentiating the top-rated food retailers among consumers?

Brand Image Rating

  • Wegmans: 55.5%
  • H-E-B: 50.3%
  • Publix: 48.9%
  • Trader Joe’s: 48.3%
  • Whole Foods Market: 44.3%
  • Food retailer average: 37.7%

Source:Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics; Base: 9,493 recent retail visitors (Q4’16-Q3’17)

Shoppers who visit Wegmans, the top-ranked RFS banner, are not shy when expressing their passion for the chain. Its scores reveal positive perceptions of Wegman’s uniqueness and innovative product launches, and it receives the highest rating for trustworthiness across all the CBM-tracked food retailers. Seven in 10 Wegmans customers strongly agree the chain has an excellent reputation—many point to a lifelong connection to the brand.

H-E-B ranks second overall among the tracked RFS leaders, but the San Antonio, Texas-based regional retailer earns top scores for corporate social responsibility and support for local community activities. The company’s commitment to donate 5% of pretax earnings to local causes clearly resonates with consumers, as 35% of millennials believe social responsibility is very important when selecting a retailer. Too, 58% of H-E-B customers strongly agree they can trust the brand.

Employee-owned Publix earns its highest ratings in the area of standing, as 59% of shoppers strongly agree the food retailer has an excellent reputation. The high level of staff engagement goes all the way back to the roots of the company and its founder, and 39% of those that experienced excellent visit satisfaction cite service as a reason—more than any other determining factor. In fact, 53% strongly agree Publix is a place where the customer comes first.

Though Trader Joe’s favors prepared chilled meals to on-premise foodservice, its quirky themes and private-label selections help fuel strong brand image ratings. Hawaiian shirt-clad store associates, dubbed “the Crew,” propel its service ratings to the No. 2 spot among the tracked food retailers. However, consumers indicate its innovative, affordable products with inspiration from around the globe are the real drivers of its scores.

Despite receiving the lowest rank for value-related attributes, Whole Foods Market earns above-average ratings for brand image, with strengths including innovation and social responsibility. After its recent acquisition by Amazon—and immediate in-store price-cutting steps taken by the retail giant—consumers will likely reassess their ideas of the Whole Foods value proposition.

Methodology

Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics conducts ongoing consumer tracking of foodservice occasions for leading retailers, restaurants and convenience stores to provide you with up-to-date competitive information, customer behavior analysis and brand insights. Retail CBM tracks customer experience at 24 top supermarket, warehouse club, mass merchandiser, drugstore and specialty food retailers.

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