In dunnhumby's second annual Retailer Preference Index (RPI) study, a comprehensive nationwide study, we re-examine the evolving US grocery landscape to help retailers navigate an increasingly fragmented market where shoppers are, on average, shopping at four grocery stores per month and regularly buying groceries from at least three other channels. The study focuses on the following questions:
- What drives preference?
- Who is winning and losing?
- Why are they winning or losing?
- What can grocery retailers do to improve preference and performance?
Existing retailer rankings by Consumer Reports or Market Force only use survey data to capture how shoppers feel about the various banners without linking the emotion to financial performance. Others, like Supermarket News, rank banners based on financial metrics but fail to capture how people feel.
Retail success takes many forms in today's dynamic marketplace. From large legacy retailers to disruptive start-ups and all manner of competitors in between, the paths to retail success involves common principals around which there is a wide variation of understanding and execution.
To bring clarity to the issue of what makes a winner, dunnhumby, the global customer data science firm, conducted a massive survey of more than 7,000 U.S. shoppers for the second annual Retailer Preference Index (RPI), the first study of its kind in the industry. In what's quickly become known as retailing's equivalent of research firm Gartner's often-cited Magic Quadrant, dunnhumby's RPI is a ranking of more than 50 large food and consumable retailers based on a combination of shopper sentiment and financial performance.
The traditional, regional U.S. grocery store—it's the institution that has fed communities for decades and families for generations. It offers that connection to a simpler time, a time when the guy behind the meat counter would know Customers by name, a time when a dad pushed his child around in a shopping cart while they "helped" him shop and a time before mobile phones invaded our lives and sped up the pace of life…
That place—the traditional grocery store—has history. Customers and the people who work there are part of a family. That kind of emotional connection is priceless.
A new format in grocery retail is emerging: the 50,000 square foot convenience store. Its value proposition to customers is simple: higher quality perishables and ready-to-eat items than your typical grocery store. Thousands of the same center-store products you can also find at Walmart, Target, Amazon, Costco and Sam's Club. Everything at higher prices. Added bonus: since the store is 10x to 20x bigger than your typical c-store, you can get your steps in and burn calories at the same time.
When considering trip types and categories sought by customers, five general types of retail destinations emerge:<ul><li>All-around grocery shop</li><li>Perishable and ready-to-eat small basket</li><li>Quick and convenient meal</li><li>Non-perishable stock-up</li><li>Non-perishable small basket</li></ul><p>Certain channels lend themselves to certain destination types. Specialty grocers like Trader Joe's or Sprouts, with fewer SKUs and smaller formats than the traditional grocer, tend to fall in the "Perishable and ready-to-eat small basket" destination type. Club and mass are non-perishable stock-up destination. Drug, dollar and digital in non-perishable small basket. C-stores in quick and convenient meals. However, many traditional grocers have an identity crisis. Only 6 in ten are seen primarily as "all around grocery shop" destinations, despite all of them carrying the full complement of SKUs.</p>
In our third annual Retailer Preference Index (RPI) for the U.S. grocery channel, we look at the $700 billion grocery industry which finds itself potentially less than a year away from an economic downturn, according to many economists. Which grocers are best prepared to weather the storm, and what can other retailers do to compete? The RPI seeks to answer these and other questions, including:
- What drives customer preference for grocery retailers?
- Which retailers are winning and losing? And why?
- What can grocery retailers do to improve performance and win more trips?
Existing ranking methods focus primarily on retail growth based on store counts and revenue size, without linking growth to emotional or financial performance. We have a different perspective, one that focuses on the consumer and their emotional connection to the various retailers within the grocery channel. Our study surveyed 7,500 US consumers to uncover how they think and feel about grocery stores, and how they shop them. All with a goal to understand how Customers perceive stores through seven different drivers, and how these perceptions affect both the emotional connection and financial performance.