Survey: Only Nine Percent of Consumers Dislike Grocery Shopping

Discussion
Dec 16, 2009
Tom Ryan

By Tom Ryan

A survey from
The Nielsen Co. found that only nine percent of primary shoppers in U.S.
households "dislike" or "hate" grocery shopping. Indeed, more than half (53
percent) indicated they "really enjoy"
or "like" the activity.

Eighteen percent
of the consumers that like or enjoy shopping regularly browse the entire
store when shopping.

About 38 percent
of respondents considered grocery shopping a chore but not difficult. Of
those 38 percent, 46 percent knew what parts of the store had the items
they want.

Other findings
from the survey:

  • Approximately
    30 percent of grocery items are purchased on deal, with deal rates up
    nearly 11 percent for high-income households, nearly 10 percent for middle-income
    households and seven percent for low-income households;
  • A large percentage
    of U.S. households use shopping lists (58 percent), store circulars (47
    percent) or coupons (37 percent) and compare prices (50 percent) on most
    grocery store trips;
  • Only nine
    percent of consumers purchase from end-aisle displays on most grocery
    trips, and three-quarters of consumers never ask for assistance in the
    meat or produce department.

“Knowing consumers’
attitudes toward grocery shopping is critical for retailers to understand
how to encourage shoppers to spend more each trip, thereby helping grow
their business,” said Todd Hale, senior vice president, Consumer & Shopper
Insights, Nielsen. “For example, retailers shopped by consumers who dislike
shopping or think it is a chore, consider simplified store layouts.
Adequate staffing at registers and shelf check-out are a must. Retailers
shopped by more consumers who like to shop have more flexibility to drive
sales across the store. Leverage sights and smells with cooking and demo
stations in strategic sections of stores.”

Discussion
Questions: Why does grocery shopping appear to be a more enjoyable experience
for some consumers? What should food retailers focus on
in looking to improve the shopping experience versus other channels?

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18 Comments on "Survey: Only Nine Percent of Consumers Dislike Grocery Shopping"


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Joan Treistman
Guest
11 years 4 months ago
There is something to say about instant or almost instant gratification. Grocery shopping brings you face to face with what will soon provide you and your family pleasure. You know when you leave the store you are on your way to a happy experience. There is little to do in terms of “homework” and any mistake you make will not weigh heavy on your mind. Compare the above with buying home electronics, a car, or even clothing (where trying on can be an emotional event). This article does not surprise me at all, except for the part about shopping lists. This article and the survey results suggest to me that it’s all about the grocery shopping experience. Retailers can leverage the positive foundation or undermine it entirely. When I looked at the list of items where grocers can concentrate, I narrowed in on checkout. After all, it’s the last memory of the shopping experience. Make it a good one. We don’t know the profile of the shoppers in the survey, gender, family composition, etc. But… Read more »
Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
11 years 4 months ago
Here’s my problem: it’s hard enough for retailers to target consumers and position themselves based on what consumers actually buy, let alone how they’re feeling when they make the purchase. So, on the one hand, I think it’s really important to understand what gets wrapped up in consumers’ heads when they grocery shop–I think it’s probably even more complex than simply liking or disliking. In fact, I can see it possibly getting wrapped up in self-image and things like whether or not you are a good provider for your family–grocery shopping differs in my mind from other verticals in retail because it is so wrapped up with the fundamentals of providing basic sustenance. But–and this is a big exception–what would retailers really do with that information? You don’t need to understand what percentage of your customers like or dislike grocery shopping to know that staffing the registers and keeping the lines short is a must. Simple layouts that are easy to navigate help everyone, not just shoppers that find it a chore. And yet, I… Read more »
Justin Time
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

I really think the results of this survey indicate that shoppers are resigned to feel that their shopping trip isn’t going to get any worse, so they better just accept it.

To get lower prices, shoppers have to work hard, comparing flyers, loading up their frequent shopper cards with paperless coupons savings, shopping smart, and hopefully reaping the savings being offered in the marketplace. This is no small feat.

As long as the product is on the shelves when they get to the store, and the checkout lines move them fairly quickly out the store, the food shopping experience will be tolerable.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 4 months ago

Supermarkets have evolved over the last 25 years. 4 walls and shelving will not cut it anymore. Now it’s all about creating turnkey dinner packages, offering products that are unique, and private label. Enhancements to store layouts, product mix, loyalty programs and the in-store experience have made supermarkets a destination for shopping. With what grocery merchants are offering these days, this statistic does not surprise me. I’m wondering what the result would have been if asked on a Saturday while waiting in line, though.

Ben Sprecher
Guest
Ben Sprecher
11 years 4 months ago
The results of the survey are interesting, but I wonder how they map to actual shopper behavior in the store. Does someone who “Really Enjoys Shopping” buy more or less? Are they more or less likely to impulse-buy? Are they more or less influenced by specials and end-caps? Are they more or less profitable? Even more important, there is often a major disconnect between what shoppers say they do and what they actually do. 58% of shoppers say they use lists, and 47% of shoppers say they use circulars, but even casual observation of shopper behavior in the store would lead me to question these numbers. I’ve stood at the front of a store and watched shoppers as they enter. Over the course of a half-hour of observation (hardly a scientific study, I admit), roughly 2 in 10 shoppers picked up a circular, and 2 in 10 pulled out a list. Not surprisingly, some questions are best answered using frequent-shopper data. For example, while it’s interesting that 9% of shoppers claim to buy from end-caps,… Read more »
David Livingston
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

The survey results appear consistent with other survey results I’ve seen over the past 10 years. It’s one reason why online grocery shopping has been mostly a flop. We all have our own reasons for grocery shopping and enjoying the experience. I shop multiple stores such as Aldi for low prices, Wal-Mart for low prices and a few other stores for reasons ranging from nice employees to specialty products. If I didn’t have choices then I probably would not enjoy shopping very much. If my only choice was a high-priced, sterile, publicly held chain store, I probably wouldn’t enjoy grocery shopping. The formula for success is very simple. Just make shopping fun and make the customers feel better about themselves for shopping.

Paul R. Schottmiller
Guest
Paul R. Schottmiller
11 years 4 months ago

I tend to agree with Nikki. The feeling slant has just too many other variables…gender, age, purpose of shopping trip, type of grocery store, how many kids you have to take into the store with you, store experience at the time that you are able to shop. The “why’s” of both the positive and negative that drive behavior are far more interesting. Did the survey get into these?

Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

Grocery shopping is all about two things: stocking up, and inspiration. Home cooks are always looking for something new that will provide a fun eating experience for the family.

The buzzkill, though, is a half-hour line at checkout, which is especially annoying to working customers who can’t shop during the day. Retailers: if you know we’re coming, open up those checkout lanes!

Now, if they could just figure out a way to put it all away in my cabinets….

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
11 years 4 months ago
Oh boy, where are the one armed economists when we need them? Saying that “only 9%” hate or dislike grocery shopping seemed so counterintuitive that I had to do some research. It is also interesting to see the link to MyWebGrocer on the Nielsen site that uses the 38% (in addition to the 9%) who find it a “chore” to promote their online shopping service. I could not find any details on how the survey was conducted, but I think there might be some bias effect caused by the extreme nature of the words “hate” and “dislike.” Just as the vast majority of people tend to shun extremes in politics or religion, I would bet many of the people who showed up in the “chore” category really don’t want to go grocery shopping. It is kind of like having a toothache, you don’t know how bad you had it until the pain is stopped. I agree with the MyWebGrocer conclusion that the survey indicates people are ready for an alternative. The challenge with groceries will… Read more »
Juan Diego Ribes
Guest
Juan Diego Ribes
11 years 4 months ago

I’m missing one important issue to talk about in the report. It doesn’t say anything about the main tool the shoppers use when entering a grocery store: the shopping cart.

I work at a shopping cart manufacturing company and one of our main concerns when we designed our product was the shopping experience. If you shop with a shopping cart that is hard to maneuver, weighs like an elephant and looks rusty, you want to exit the store, the sooner the better, and you end up buying fewer items.

We made a survey in September, ’08 at the stores in Spain where we first introduced our all plastic, single block shopping carts and the results were that over 40% of the interviewed agreed that they spent more time shopping at the store because of the better shopping experience due to the lighter and easy maneuvering, new shopping carts.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
11 years 4 months ago

The grocery shopping experience is one of the few places that one can experience an adventure with today’s humanity. Rubbing elbows with people as well as people watching are gratifying experiences. And when you go to the grocery store you’re among the mainstream of life…and you can get your groceries too. That’s makes grocery shopping worthwhile. Think about it!

Mark Burr
Guest
11 years 4 months ago
Checkout? Finding Help? Ease of Layout? Out-of-Stocks? Choose one? Interestingly, so far nearly 2/3 chose checkout. Important? Yes. Yet, aren’t the others all equal? If the item you went in for couldn’t be found, was hard to get to, or was out of stock; you wouldn’t need checkout. They are all nearly equal in importance. We all know them as part of the basics and are a part of the interdependent fundamentals necessary for success. Focusing on them is a formula for it. Yet, scores in these areas are many times average to low among most. Are consumers willing to accept that? Likely. But are they getting it? Maybe not. While ‘Mrs. Scanner’ loves grocery shopping, she is, at least among our peers, likely the only one that says anything but they very much dislike it, or actually do hate it. In my world, those results here seem skewed. Maybe it is indeed the language, as mentioned. I just don’t see most in the 90% as it would indicate as something even that they remotely… Read more »
Lee Peterson
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

We talk to grocery shoppers all the time and the only reason I can think of as to why they “don’t dis-like it” is because it is such a mindless, rote process for most people (a chore like cutting the grass) that in a way, it’s relaxing. It’s actually a very negative statement in that the merchants aren’t actually making the customer investigate and be ‘wowed’ by something.

I’d be interested to see those numbers from Whole Foods vs. a middle player. I’ll bet the middle players would like to see them too.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
11 years 4 months ago

I think we can look at this study and gain something by thinking about it from the 30,000 foot view. First, consumers might enjoy/like grocery shopping (53% according to the survey) because they are A. Hungry B. It beats what they are doing the rest of the day.

With that in mind, I’d suggest supermarket operators be grateful for these numbers and look for the opportunity in them. If 53% like grocery shopping, it could mean that price isn’t everything, so they still have a chance (vs. ‘you-know-who’) IF they make the shopping experience as enjoyable as possible. Publix seems to do just fine providing a great experience, even though they don’t play the price game too much.

Nick Samson
Guest
Nick Samson
11 years 4 months ago

I was pleasantly surprised by the survey findings. When you have 53% of the group that don’t see it as a chore or worst, I’m impressed.

Having spent a substantial portion of my career in the grocery and petroleum industry, I was always under the impression that consumers considered them the two worst buying experiences. I stand corrected!

Now, my next question asks why does 47% of consumers not enjoy the experience or see it as a chore. I hate chores. When I think chores…I think of vacuuming!

If we could nail down why 47% feel this way, maybe we could increase customer basket size, visit frequency or customer drift.

I believe I just found a new study for my team.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

Lee Peterson has in interesting point. It would be enlightening to this discussion if we knew where the positive respondents shopped.

But as I hear the cost of living in the US has dropped (yes, no?) the first area of drop is usually in the areas of basic living, i.e. food. So maybe grocery shopping is not only a necessity but somewhere that the shopper feels comfortable and scared off. Also, as someone else pointed out, shopping for food gives instant gratification, rather than waiting for the event to wear that new frock or the weather to clear to drive the new car. I can’t remember ever having buyers remorse after shopping for groceries, at least not to the level of other purchases.

Phil Rubin
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

It is not surprising that consumers like grocery shopping. It has gotten much better over the years, in perhaps not so ironic contrast to other retail categories.
– There is food, which most people love.
– There is more competition from large scale companies making value and values much more compelling.
– There is also the adventure of discovering new items and taking part in many of the new ancillary experiences and services (banking, pharmacies, etc.) embedded in the stores today.
– Last, grocery shopping is still a local experience, for the most part. It is not completely generic and commoditized like so many other aspects of retail (chains).

Rick Boretsky
Guest
Rick Boretsky
11 years 4 months ago

Grocery shopping is like ‘comfort food’ or maybe we can call it ‘comfort shopping’. We know what we want, we know what we like, we know its basic value, and we know where to find it. What more can you ask for in a shopping experience? In our local grocery chains, like Loblaws, Metro, or IGA, it is all very familiar. The layout is the same in all stores. From fruits & vegetables, to bakery, meat & fish, etc, it’s all about ‘easy’. No major decisions, no major questions on value, and we can buy what’s familiar and maybe the odd new thing to add some interest.

It’s all about ‘easy’.

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