What factors inspire the most trust? Understandably, this year’s answer to that question has new facets related to COVID-19. While quality, low prices, freshness, selection and service remain relevant, new criteria such as pandemic safety protocols, curbside pickup and delivery have increased in importance.
“Online ordering and curbside pickup increased their impact on shopper trust the most vs. last year, and shoppers became less concerned with getting the absolute lowest prices in light of the pandemic,” reports Philip Scrutton, BrandSpark’s VP Shopper Insights.. Indeed, “lowest prices” decreased most in importance, down 6 percentage points from last year.
“More than half of shoppers have used online grocery services this year, which increased a third last year. Curbside pickup gained the most among all the online grocery services,” says Scrutton. Thirty-three percent of shoppers availed themselves of grocery curbside pickup services, up 13 points from the previous year. Nineteen percent were attributable to Instacart (up 6 points vs. 2019), while “other grocery delivery” accounted for 15% (up 8 points from the previous year), finds BrandSpark.
Shopper Penetration and Trust
While online ordering became more important, it was only cited as one of the top three factors impacting trust in a grocery store by 7% of shoppers, reflecting how a great in-store experience remains vital.
“Having a good online click-and-collect and delivery program is important,” he asserts. “All the top stores delivered on that. They also attracted additional shoppers who weren’t necessarily in-store shoppers.” And while the shift to online grocery shopping is not surprising, says Scrutton, it does represent the most significant change in 2020. “It’s interesting and impressive how retailers were able to pivot so fast, making improvements to their online presence, and managing it all so quickly.”
Top Trust Drivers
While quality remains a top trust driver, online ordering/curbside pickup grew the most vs. last year. Shoppers became less concerned with getting the lowest prices in light of the pandemic.
Topping this year’s list of trust drivers, quality of fresh produce is key, with 37% of respondents indicating it is among the three most important builders of trust. Lowest prices are next in line at 36%, with quality of fresh meat still meaningful at 31%. But before product selection, friendly service or a well-maintained store, a grocer’s handling of COVID (26%) is of critical importance for consumers seeking a supermarket they can trust.Among all the grocery stores in the U.S., shoppers believe that Publix and San Antonio-based H-E-B responded the best to COVID-19. “Publix outshined other grocers in their markets in their handling of COVID-19 risks, as well in providing quality service to customers despite the disruption,” Scrutton says. “It also did particularly well in terms of its selection of new products, total food and beverage offerings, and self-checkout experience.”