Trader Joe's topped a customer-satisfaction survey of 6,600 consumers as North America's favorite grocery store, followed by Publix and Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM), the Huffington Post reported on Wednesday (July 24).
The study by Market Force Information also found that Wegmans, Aldi and Hy-Vee also scored well in both satisfaction and customers' willingness to recommend the chain to another customer. Walmart (NYSE:WMT) trailed dozens of other chains by both measures.
But when the survey asked where customers actually shopped most frequently, the leadership shifted. In the northeastern U.S., Stop & Shop got the top spot; in the midwest it was Kroger (NYSE:KR); in the south, Kroger and Publix virtually tied; in the west Safeway (NYSE:SWY) led by a wide margin; and in Canada, Loblaw dominated.
And when it came to areas that survey participants said mattered most to them, Ralphs ranked first in convenient location, Aldi and WinCo were price leaders, Winn-Dixie (NASDAQ:WINN) got top marks for sales and promotions, Meijer was ranked best for merchandise selection, and Walmart and Target (NYSE:TGT) tied for one-stop shopping. That's the trouble with surveys that look at multiple dimensions: They don't pick a simple horse-race winner. (Or that's the advantage, if you're a grocery chain looking for something to brag about.)
Aside from the something-for-everyone aspect, the survey really does provide useful fodder for figuring out which differentiators matter to specific chains. For example, Walmart's strength appears to be more in one-stop shopping than in price (far more shoppers said Aldi and WinCo had lowest prices). That could be a challenge as Walmart increasingly moves into urban areas with smaller stores, where there won't be as much room for all the merchandise customers want to pick up in one stop.
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