Download Report

Thank you! Your copy of the report opened in a new tab. If you have trouble viewing it,click here.

Your personal information is kept in accordance with our Privacy Notice.



Quality pillar is the most complex preference driver in our study because it includes many different attributes. The two underlying customer needs are the Quality of the store experience and the product assortment.

The Quality pillar composition is very similar to previous years, but the importance of Quality dropped from the second most important pillar in previous years to the second least important in 2020. In previous years, we would see strong positive correlation between the Quality score of a banner and their financial performance, but there was noticeably less correlation in 2020. Customer needs shifted from finding a preferred, branded paper towels to simply finding any paper towels. Thus, many shoppers went from satisfying their higher-order emotional needs to simply finding product on the shelf that would meet their more basic functional needs. In addition to the pillar attributes being consistent to previous years, the list of top banners also looks familiar, although these banners did not get the usual Quality tailwind of previous years.

In the pre-Covid Era, we would expect those making large Quality gains to also see increases in YOY sales. Viewing the Notable Gainers, big increases in Quality perceptions did not necessarily translate into YOY sales growth. The one outstanding banner in Quality improvements is Giant PA, which also improved significantly in Digital and Operations. These latter two improvements are likely strong drivers of their YoY sales gains. It is also interesting to note that all these banners are traditional grocers, except WinCo. And although Quality was less important in driving short-term financial results this year, the top-Quality gainers are another data point that shows the relative gains made by traditional banners during Covid.

As customers and the supply chain return to a more pre-Covid status, we expect Quality to stay a key driver in longer-term store preference and performance. During Covid, shoppers concentrated their share of wallet more into a single store to cut down on exposure to infection risk, but as shoppers become more comfortable shopping multiple banners and begin to once again purchase ready-to-eat grocery items, we would expect Quality importance to bounce back.

Quality and Covid: Voice of the customer

"I don't feel comfortable standing and looking through produce while someone else is standing near me doing the same thing. I feel uneasy walking up to employees and asking them for help, like I always have.


Smarter operations and sustainable growth, powered by Customer Data Science.


Better understand and activate your Shoppers to grow sales.

In the first episode of Customer First Radio, Dave Clements, Global Head of Retail for dunnhumby and David Ciancio, Global Head of Grocery for dunnhumby kick off the series by discussing what it means to be a truly Customer First business, share which retailers and brands today embody a Customer First mindset, and examine how Customer First materialized during the pandemic with retailers.

black and silver headphones on black and silver microphone
Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash

The 2021 Retailer Preference Index: Who's winning and why. David Ciancio, Global Head of Grocery discusses the 2021 U.S Retailer Preference Index (RPI): Grocery Edition with the lead author of the RPI, Erich Kahner. They unveil key insights and discuss who is winning and who is best positioned for the future.

dunnhumby’s Prophets of Aisle Six, Episode 2: Heinen's Fine Foods

The Prophets of Aisle Six is the first online reality series focusing on innovation in the food retail industry. In this episode, Jose Gomes, dunnhumby's North America Managing Director, travels to the downtown Cleveland store of Heinen's Fine Foods. Jose meets with Tom and Jeff Heinen, co-owners and brothers, and learns how they are evolving their grandfather's mission of delivering excellent customer service. With 23 stores in Northeast Ohio and the greater Chicago area, and a 90-year legacy, Heinen's is proving that being a small retailer can be an advantage when it comes to data.

In this series, dunnhumby tours the globe and speaks with some of the world's greatest brands, exploring their biggest challenges and how they are using customer data science to meet those challenges.

In my last post, I posed five questions to retailers to help them determine whether they're ready for a customer-first mindset. Now, I'd like to challenge the retail basics that seasoned retailers were trained on, and suggest instead a new customer data science approach.

"Retail is detail" is common industry wisdom, and it means that achieving success is subtle and difficult. Success in any field demands practice and experience, and so it is little wonder that many senior retail and brand leaders and managers have vast years of involvement, and that most have grown up through the business in progressive steps.

Keep Reading... Show less