The Great Recession programmed lasting value-consciousness into the minds of consumers. How might COVID-19 rewire us again?
The fourth annual dunnhumby Retailer Preference Index for U.S. Grocery (RPI) sheds light on what makes a retail winner, and how the pandemic has impacted consumer shopping behaviors. Known as retail's equivalent of the Gartner Magic Quadrant, the RPI surveyed about 10,000 consumers to understand what's driving customer preference and rank the top 57 grocery retailers in the United States.
Join dunnhumby CEO Guillaume Bacuvier as he dives into the latest study, revealing the levers for success, and which retailers are winning the hearts, and wallets, of shoppers today.
In order to reflect on how the grocery world changed in 2020, we have changed how we calculate our overall Grocery RPI score. Given the historically unique metrics we've witnessed in the economy, the restaurant industry and the grocery industry, along with the rare influence a global pandemic has brought to consumer behavior, we're viewing grocery success in 2020 through a different lens than we viewed grocery success in prior years.
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.
Starting in 2018, our Retailer Preference Index (RPI) score established which retailers' value propositions were best positioned to win with customers long-term. Our rankings were the result of a statistical model that predicted how retailer execution on various customer needs – or Preference Drivers – impact both lasting emotional bonds formed with customers, as well as longer-term financial success:
2018-2020 RPI Approach
By understanding how different Preference Drivers propel overall market share
we understand what it takes for a retailer to scale their offering up to different regions, to a wider variety of consumers, which takes time. Modelling against Five Year rather than Year-Over-Year sales growth ensures we understand what it takes for a retailer to maintain growth that isn't just the result of a trend. Finally, knowing what it takes to secure a strong Emotional Connection with consumers sheds light on what will get consumers to keep coming back to retailers long-term, even in spite of events that would temporarily steer them away – like job loss or illness. This year, we are introducing another element to our calculation: the Covid Momentum Metric. This metric results from a statistical model that predicts how retailer execution on the same Preference Drivers impact short-term financial success, namely market share gains or losses during 2020.
By modelling against Covid Era market share gain or loss
we can understand what is driving changes in consumer behavior during Covid. This does not tell us what it takes to win with customers long-term, since the Covid Era is a unique moment in time. However, we nor any retailer should dismiss the Covid Era changes in consumer behaviors or preferences as definitively temporary, especially given the length of the Covid Era and how long these new behaviors have had to wear new grooves in consumers' brains and lives. Therefore, to understand which retailers are best positioned now and for the future, we must consider how their value proposition is positioned to win Emotional Connection, long-term financial results and short-term Covid Momentum. As a result, the RPI score this year is really the RPI+ score. It blends how well a retailer's customer value proposition is positioned for long-term success with how much short-term momentum that same value proposition generated for the special circumstances surrounding Covid:
2021 RPI Approach
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.
Our study is different because it quantifies the preference driver importance based on a combination of a banner's emotional connection and financial performance. The emotional connection was captured through a 15-minute online survey across 7,000 US households about how customers think and feel about 56 US grocery retailers.
The list of banners evaluated, in alphabetical order, include:
Big Y Foods
Frys Food Stores
Smart & Final
Stop & Shop
The Fresh Market
To learn more, download a free copy of the report. If your banner is in our report and you'd like your custom brief, contact us.